Drunk Driving: Its official legal name is Driving While Intoxicated (DUI). **Go to bottom of article to read facts**All stats provided by MADD and Drunkdriving.com. Article written by John Feinberg.

Currently in the United States, the Blood-Alcohol Intoxication (BAC) percentage is 0.08% for legal intoxication. However, research has shown that there still can be effects from alcohol with a lower BAC of 0.08%. This all depends on several factors, two mainly being the weight and sex of the person.

What is a DUI? If you are the driver of the vehicle, you assume responsibility for yourself, your actions, and any incidents that occur from the use of the vehicle. If you are intoxicated, your judgement skills will not be as good if you were sober. You also lose reaction time from the alcohol, as it depresses the nervous system.

If a person chooses to drive a car, and gets into an accident and he/she is not at fault, there is no repercussion for that accident. However, let’s say the person is legally intoxicated, and chooses to drive. If that person were to get into an accident, regardless of fault, he/she will receive the fault for the accident.

If a person accidentally kills someone in a car, and the driver is not at fault, there are no legal charges that can be pursued for that death. If that person is legally intoxicated, and kills someone, regardless of fault, will be charged with crime he/she committed due to the alcohol the driver consumed.

Legal Issues

When a person is stopped by a Law Enforcement Officer for a driving infraction, the officer does a variety of checks to make sure you have a valid license, insurance, registration, etc… However, the officer also checks you. If you appear intoxicated, the officer may request a sobriety test (they cannot demand one, but can demand a BAC test). Police are more active on DUI’s during holidays. There are sobriety checkpoints scattered throughout highways and major roads. If you are intoxicated while driving, you could be:

  • Fined (depends on number of previous offenses)
  • Arrested (depends on number of previous offenses and if BAC is at legal intoxication level)
  • Car impounded (If arrested)
  • License Suspended/Revoked (depends on previous offenses/BAC level + another other offenses at time of BAC test)
  • Incarceration (depends on previous offenses and severity of charges)

Social Issues

If a person has been arrested for DUI (whether it be once or more), this person has to deal with many new challenges that will have risen from the DUI charge. Some possible challenges or problems could be:

  • Job Applications: If this person tries to apply for a job and the employer sees a DUI charge, they are 77.32% less likely to hire the person. If it is a felony DUI charge, there is a 96.31% chance the employer is less likely to hire the person.
  • Insurance: Insurance companies will raise your premium, or sometimes even drop you as a customer. They do not want that raised liability that you may get into an accident, and possibly kill someone and/or yourself.
  • AA Classes: If you are convicted of a 2 or more DUI charges, you will be sentenced to go to mandatory Alcohol Anonymous (AA) classes. Not only do the classes take time away from your job or family, they also go on your record.
  • Transportation: If your license is suspended or revoked, you will have to find other means of transportation to get from place to place, especially work. Plus, this can also put a burden on your family/friends, who now have to drive you if you cannot take mass transit.
  • Social Life: Studies have shown that those who have been convicted of DUI, have shown 33% more likely to be aggressive towards family and friends, which can hurt relationships. Not many people want to be around a convicted DUI person, especially if it is a felony.
  • Money: One of the biggest factors. You have to pay for whatever fees the police have, fees from the DMV, court fees, lawyer fees, it keeps going. In 67% of DUI cases, the defendant had to pay an average of $4,000 for the fees. That is money you could have spent on something important.

Under 21? Under age? Under a lot of legal trouble!

21 is the legal drinking age in the United States. If you are under 21 and you are pulled over by an officer, and your BAC is tested, you cannot have any alcohol (BAC of 0.00). This is the new Zero-Tolerance law passed to make sure underage drinkers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

If you are convicted of a DUI and are under 18, you are not subject to the same laws as adults. If 18-20, you are, plus the zero-tolerance law. If you are under 18, and it is your first offense, and it is a misdemeanor, it will be off your record by age 21. Felonies stay with you for life. If you are over 18 and you are convicted with the Zero-Tolerance law, you are subject to license suspension until age 21, or 12 months (whichever is longer).

Repeat Offenders

Didn’t learn your lesson? Well, then the judicial system has ways to teach you. You may be given the right to drive again, but not before a little “tinkering” is done to your car. Ignition Interlocks are devices set up that require a breath analysis of the BAC for the car to start. You blow into the breathalyzer, and if your BAC is under the legal limit, you are able to start your car.

However, this system is extremely ineffective in most cases, as the driver can have someone else blow into the device for them. Until DNA-recognition software is developed, then this system is extremely inefficient. However, 70% of ignition interlocks are successful in their applications.

What the author thinks

Not sure if you care for my opinion, but I will tell you anyway! I believe drunk driving is one of the easiest crimes to prevent if the right steps are taken. Bars often do not stop serving visibly-intoxicated customers because they want the business. Also, those who decide to drink should be aware of it, and either find another way home, or designate a driver who cannot consume any alcohol. However, alcohol depress correct judgement, and this is where the problems start. If these plans were thought of ahead of time, that would be great. If the plans are carefully followed, then DUI’s would be drastically reduced.

John Feinberg

©2010 FLR Productions

  1. Drunk driving causes approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities in the United States.a
  2. During the year 2007, alcohol-impaired driving was involved in the deaths of nearly 13,000 Americans.b
  3. On average, someone in the U.S. is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes.a
  4. Roughly three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related collision at some point in their life.e
  5. Over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in 2007. This number is less than 1% of the 159 million self-reported episodes of drunk driving in that year.a
  6. According to the law in all 50 U.S. states, a driver is considered to be legally drunk when his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) level is at or above .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL).e
  7. To reach a BAC level of .08 g/dL, a man weighing approximately 170 pounds would need to consume four standard drinks in one hour on an empty stomach. A woman weighing about 140 pounds would need to consume three drinks in one hour.e
  8. drunk-driving
    Alcohol remains in the body for up to six hours after drinking
  9. It takes approximately six hours after drinking for the body to completely eliminate alcohol from its system with a BAC level of .08 g/dL.e
  10. Because alcohol dilutes itself in the water volume of the body in order to travel through it, vital organs that contain a lot of water (such as the brain) are particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.e
  11. Even at BAC levels as low as .02 g/dL, alcohol can affect a person’s response time and driving ability. The probability of a crash increases significantly after .05 BAC, and even more rapidly after .08 BAC.e
  12. A driver with a BAC of .08  g/dL is 11 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than a driver who has consumed no alcohol.e
  13. In 2007, more than half of the drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes had a BAC level of .15 g/dL , nearly twice the legal limit.c
  14. Drivers are far more likely to be alcohol impaired during the night than during the day. In 2007, 36% of drivers involved in nighttime fatal crashes were legally drunk versus just 9% during daytime collisions.c
  15. Approximately 75% of fatal crashes occurring between midnight and 3 a.m. involve alcohol.c
  16. The highest rates of drunk driving occur among drivers aged 21-24. This age group makes up 35% of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal collisions.c
  17. Motorcycle drivers are the most likely to be involved in fatal drunk driving accidents, with 27% of such accidents in 2007 involving at least one drunk motorcycle operator.c
  18. drunk driver
    Nearly 75% of drunk drivers do not wear their safety belts
  19. Nearly 75% of drunk drivers involved in fatal collisions are not wearing their safety belts.b
  20. An alcohol-related collision is more than twice as likely to occur on the weekend than during the week. Roughly 31% of drivers involved in fatal crashes on the weekend are legally drunk, as opposed to just 15% during the week.c
  21. According to one study, a first-time drunk-driving offender has already driven drunk more than 80 times before being arrested.e
  22. State laws commonly use two different acronyms to describe drunken or impaired driving—DWI and DUI. DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated” and typically refers only to alcohol impairment, while DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and can refer to either alcohol or drugs.e
  23. Beer is the most common type of alcoholic beverage involved in both DUI arrests and fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). It is also the drink of choice in most cases of binge drinking and underage drinking.b
  24. Drugs other than alcohol (such as marijuana and cocaine) are involved in approximately 18% of fatal motor vehicle collisions and have most often been used in combination with alcohol.a
  25. Men are about twice as likely as women to drive under the influence of alcohol and to be involved in a fatal collision.b
  26. In 2006, nearly 20% of all 16- to 20-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle collisions had a BAC level of .08 g/dL or higher.a
  27. All 50 states and the District of Columbia currently have “zero tolerance” laws, which make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a BAC of .02 g/dL or higher.e
  28. Laws which set a specific blood alcohol concentration level that is above the legal limit are called “per se” laws and were first implemented in Norway in 1936. Per se is a Latin phrase that means “by itself,” and per se laws state that a BAC level of .08 g/dL or above is the only evidence needed of impairment.e
  29. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), one of the most vocal political action groups against alcohol-impaired driving, was formed in 1980 in Irving, Texas, by Candice Lightner. She started the group after her teenage daughter was killed by a drunk driver but later left the organization once she felt its focus had shifted from preventing drunk driving to preventing alcohol consumption in general.e
  30. The state of Wyoming is the deadliest state for drinking and driving, with just over 13 drunk-driving fatalities for every 100,000 people occurring each year. New York experiences the least amount of drunk-driving fatalities, with only 2.06 per 100,000 residents.b
  31. school bus crash
    The deadliest drunk-driving accident in the U.S. occurred when a drunk driver crashed into a school bus, killing 27 people and injuring 34 others
  32. The deadliest drunk-driving accident in the U.S. occurred in 1988 on Interstate 71 in Kentucky when a drunk driver with a BAC level of .24 g/dL caused a head-on collision with a school bus. The crash and ensuing fire killed 27 people (most of them children) and injured 34 others.e
  33. To determine if a driver is legally impaired, a police officer will typically administer a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer is a machine that estimates a driver’s blood alcohol content level by determining the amount of alcohol in his or her lungs.e
  34. According to one study, using a cell phone while driving can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, causing drivers to miss traffic signals and react more slowly to driving conditions. Frighteningly, the NHTSA estimates that more than 100 million U.S. drivers use their cell phone while driving and about 8% of drivers on the roadway at any given daylight moment are either conversing or texting on their cell phone.d
  35. In 2006, more than 40% of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with just 15% of drivers with no alcohol in their system.b
  36. Somewhere between 50% to 75% of drunk drivers who have their licenses suspended for DUI convictions continue to drive without a license.e
  37. According to one poll, over 80% of American drivers have heard of the term BAC or blood alcohol content, but only 27% of drivers can correctly identify the legal BAC limit for their state.e