More than 97 percent of Americans feel that drunk driving is a serious threat to societal well-being. Drunk driving kills more than 17,000 people and injures another 500,000 every year on the US roadways. Drunk driving is responsible for more than 41 percent of all auto accident fatalities each year. About thirty percent of Americans will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives.
Drunk driving is the nation’s most frequently committed crime, killing someone every thirty minutes. This crime is usually charged as a DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWI (driving while intoxicated), depending on the applicable state-specific laws. Each state enacts its own laws governing drunk driving offenses, though many states have similar penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A drunk driving charge is punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the drunk driving incident. In most states is it a crime to operate any motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level that meets or exceeds 0.08 BAC. Zero tolerance laws are enforced in many states, making it a crime for a minor to drive with any amount of alcohol in their systems. Drunk driving offenders may also be charged with violating implied consent laws. Implied consent means that upon receiving a driver’s license, you implicitly agreed to the chemical testing of your BAC as requested by a law enforcement officer. Failure to comply can lead to additional drunk driving penalties.
A drunk driving conviction can lead to a number of penalties. A DUI or DWI conviction can result in possible jail time, fines, probation, restitution, community service, mandatory drug, and alcohol treatment therapy, and drunk driving school. In addition to these criminal consequences, drunk driving convictions are also penalized by the department of motor vehicles. The department of motor vehicles can suspend, restrict, or revoke a person’s license if they are found guilty of drunk driving.
Drunk driving penalties can be enhanced under a number of circumstances. If a person has a prior drunk driving conviction, penalties for subsequent offenses will be much harsher. If children are involved, injuries are sustained, a person’s blood-alcohol level is particularly high or if other vehicle infractions are committed, the punishments in a drunk driving conviction can be significantly enhanced.
Drunk driving convictions stay on a person’s permanent criminal record. Drunk driving records also stay on the department of motor vehicle records for a number of years following a conviction. These records can be accessed by insurance companies, employers, schools, licensing agencies, and other groups that may be used against a person in future endeavors.
A qualified legal drunk driving attorney can maximize and protect a person’s legal interests in a drunk driving case.