Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above is illegal in every state. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) includes not only alcohol, but any intoxicant, narcotic drug, or other drug that can impair physical abilities and judgment, including prescription drugs. A driver can register a BAC of .00 percent and still be convicted of a DUI if a law enforcement is given sufficient probable cause for stopping the vehicle to investigate.
According to NHTSA, the median blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers involved in a fatal crash is .16 percent.
When you drive you have automatically given your implied consent to be tested to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood. The tests must be administered at the request of a law enforcement officer who has reasonable grounds to believe you have been driving under the influence of an intoxicant or drug. After stopping you, a variety of sobriety checks, including breath alcohol tests can lead an officer to conclude that you are "Driving Under the Influence."
If you have any doubt about your ability to drive, don’t get behind the wheel.
In 2007, there were 1.4 million DUI/DWI arrests and an estimated 41,059 people were killed nationwide in fatal traffic accidents. Of these traffic deaths, 31.7% or 12,998 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. As shown in the chart below, alcohol-impaired driving deaths as a percentage of total traffic fatalities has remained largely unchanged over the past ten years.
|Year||Total Fatalities||Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities|
|Number||% of Total Fatalities||Fatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Travelled|
Men outnumber women in DUI arrests four to one. 626,371 men were arrested for DUI in 2007 as compared to 162,493 women. But over the past ten years DUI arrests for women have increased by 28.8% versus a decline for men of 7.5%. (source: FBI report, September 2008)
There are driving under the influence laws in every state. In all states the legal limit is .08 BAC.
Different states use different legal terms under which driving under the influence of alcohol may fall. Depending on the state and statutes some charges are more serious than others. If you need to know if someone’s been charged with an alcohol related driving offense it’s always better to ask if they have ever failed a breathalyzer test than if they’ve had a DUI.
Per se law makes it an inherent offense, in and of itself, to drive with a blood alcohol concentration at or above .08 BAC. It means that if a driver registers a blood alcohol level of .08 he is presumed intoxicated, regardless of whether or not the driver shows visible signs of intoxication, and regardless of whether any other violation, injury, or accident has occurred. No proof is required. The per se law is grounded in good science as everyone is intoxicated at .08 BAC.
Implied Consent means that by virtue of having a driver’s license, you’ve automatically consented to submitting to an alcohol breath or blood alcohol test or other field sobriety tests if properly asked by police. If you refuse the tests, you can still be arrested if the officer has probable cause to believe you are intoxicated. If you refuse you may face more severe consequences than if you consent to the tests. Consequences can include fines, vehicle suspension and even jail time.
Implied consent laws differ by state. Implied consent applies to the state where you are arrested and not the state where you got your license. If you have a license from Colorado and you are arrested in Pennsylvania you are subject to Pennsylvania implied consent laws.
At time of writing 45 states (excluding Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Georgia) exchange information pertaining to driver’s license suspensions, DUI convictions and related traffic violations. This means that if you are travelling out of state for business or pleasure and find yourself on the wrong end of a traffic offense, such as DUI, your home state will be notified. You can expect your home state to impose the same penalties as does the state in which you are convicted. The offense will be added to your home state record.
There is never a holiday from drinking and driving. Whether on vacation, spring break or a business trip don’t drink and drive.
What is termed an SR22 auto insurance policy is required for drivers convicted of a drunk-driving offense. It is generally required for reinstatement of driving privileges after your regular drivers license has been suspended or revoked. SR22 auto insurance can be best described as a type of high risk auto insurance policy that guarantees the state that you have the minimum coverage required by law. It also requires the insurance company to notify the department of motor vehicles if the policy is canceled, terminated, or lapses for any reason. If you are required to maintain an SR22, the DMV will not reinstate your driver’s license without it. SR22 policies are higher risk for insurance companies, so are more difficult to obtain and generally much more expensive
The safest and best advice is to not drink when you know you are going to drive. In recent years the designated driver concept has proven very successful. Friends or family members decide before they start drinking which person will remain strictly sober. Some night clubs offer the designated drivers free non-alcoholic beverages.
If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, you should control your drinking to remain under the legal limit. Impairment to judgment and reaction times begin at levels of alcohol under the legal limit and is different for everyone. The law is set at .08 BAC because everyone is impaired at this level. Responsible drinking means being aware of your mental and physical tolerance to alcohol as well as staying under the legal limit.
Many social drinkers use breath alcohol testers to assist in their own determination of whether to drive or not. If you choose to do so be mindful of the following:
If, despite your best intentions, you realize you have had too much to drink don’t drive. There are far safer and less expensive options than the risk of getting a DUI which can easily cost you $10,000.
It takes about one hour to cancel the effects of one drink. It takes about three hours to cancel the intoxicating effects of three drinks.
You assume a great responsibility when you invite friends into your home and serve alcoholic beverages. Many states now have social host laws that can find a host legally responsible for the actions of intoxicated guests.
Increasingly home bar and party hosts are also using precision alcohol breath testers to assist in the identification and prevention of intoxicated driving. Contrary to first impression most users find their quests willing participants in self-testing.