Play It Safe Tonight: Don’t Drink & Drive

Posted December 31, 2009 in Criminal Law by

On the typical day, 31% of all traffic fatalities involve a drunk driver or motorcycle rider. It’s a tragic statistic, because it means that about one-third of all traffic fatalities are preventable. Even more tragic? On New Year’s Eve, that rate climbs to 41%.

For years, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and the media have been emphasizing the dangers of driving while intoxicated. But the problem still persists, particularly on a night like New Year’s Eve.

If you make just one resolution tonight, please resolve not to drink and drive. And, if possible, do your best to keep other impaired drivers off of the road.

Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, (also known as driving under the influence, or DUI) is a serious crime in every state. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs may affect your ability to operate cars, boats or industrial equipment in a safe manner. It is against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs if you cannot safely operate your vehicle.

If the police observe you driving erratically or violating traffic laws, they are permitted to stop and question you. If they suspect that you are intoxicated, they can ask you to submit to various tests, including a blood alcohol test. Police in many areas set up extra roadblocks on New Year’s Eve in an effort to keep unsafe drivers off the roads.

Blood Alcohol Content

When you consume alcoholic drinks, alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream. The level of alcohol in your blood, called the Blood Alcohol Content, can be measured by different tests.

If the police suspect that you are drunk, they can require you to take a breathalyzer or other test to measure your blood alcohol content. Refusal to take a test may result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

You also can be convicted of drunk driving without the results of a blood alcohol test or if your blood alcohol test result is lower than the statutory amount. A jury may convict you based on evidence that your breath, conduct, language, and motor movements showed that you were drunk and unable to drive safely.

Punishment

The penalties for drunk driving are serious.

  • Punishment for first time offenders includes suspension of driving privileges, points on your driver’s license and fines
  • Punishment for second and subsequent offenses increases significantly and usually means jail time

In addition, a drunk driving conviction generally causes your automobile insurance premiums to increase dramatically. Tips to Stay Safe

Play it safe this New Year’s Eve by following these common sense rules:

  • Have a designated driver who agrees not to drink alcoholic beverages or take drugs that will impair their judgment
  • If you don’t have a designated driver, use taxis, car services, public transportation, or call a friend or family member to pick you up; alternately, stay where you are until you are sober and can drive
  • If you see someone who has been drinking and plans to drive, take their keys and find them a ride
  • If you’re hosting a party, offer a selection of non-alcoholic drinks
  • Be a responsible party host, don’t serve guests who have had too much to drink and invite people to sleep at your house if they don’t have a sober ride home

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