California DUI: Knowledge Is
Each day in the United States, nearly 30 people die as a result of a drunk driving collision. That equals out to approximately one person every 50 minutes. In 2010 alone (which is the most recent year on which data has been recorded), damages and deaths related to DUI incidents amounted to $44 billion dollars.
More recent data from 2018 shows that almost 11,000 DUI-related deaths occurred in 2018, contributing to almost 30% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities that year. 231 of those fatalities were children aged 14 years or younger.
Drunk driving is truly a plague on our roads and is inarguably one of the greatest dangers to even the most responsible drivers. Perhaps by being aware of the risks associated with this dangerous behavior, we can mitigate the potential for being involved in a DUI-related incident.
What counts as a DUI?
In all 50 states, including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, drunk driving is illegal. What counts as drunk driving? Driving with a BAC of ) 0.08 or greater. Here's what that means:
Once ingested, the walls of the stomach and small intestine actually absorb the alcohol. The result is a certain amount being transferred directly into your bloodstream. The alcohol content in blood grows until the body metabolizes it using the liver. “BAC” or “Blood Alcohol Concentration” is a measure of the relative weight of alcohol in a certain quantity of blood.
Thus, a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 can be interpreted as having 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. This can be measured by an individual's breath, hence the widespread use of breathalyzers when investigating the BAC of potential drunk drivers. Why 0.08? Studies have shown that BAC levels at or above this level significantly increase one's risk of injuring themselves when behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Effects of Alcohol
Although effects vary per person, each successive level of Blood Alcohol Concentration are associated with certain unique feelings and impairments:
- 0.02 – Effects at this level include minor judgement loss, feelings of relaxation, mild warmth in the body and a change in mood. Already this can impair one's sight by reducing their ability to keep track of a moving target and reduce one's ability to conduct two tasks at once which is often a skill required for safe driving.
- 0.05 – Effects at this level include behavioral exaggerations, loss of small-muscle control (such as those required to focus your eyes), impairment of judgement, less alertness, and a release of inhibitions. These effects can manifest in driving by diminishing an individual's coordination, ability to keep track on non-static objects, and response time to sudden obstacles.
- 0.08 – Effects at this level include substandard coordination of many muscle groups in the body, a reduction in the ability to accurately assess dangerous factors in the environment, and an overall impairment in core bodily functions such as judgement, discipline, reasoning, deduction and even memory. For a driver, this often means loss of necessary concentration and short-term memory, slowing of their ability to process information, and a reduction in responsible decision making. It is clear why this is the level at which DUI laws are based in the United States.
- 0.10 – Effects at this level include significant deterioration of the time one takes to react, control and coordinate, slurring of speech, and slowed thinking and reasoning. At this point, an illegal driver finds it difficult to stay in the lanes and brake appropriately.
- 0.15 – Effects at this level include extreme deterioration in muscle control, potential vomiting and a significant loss of balance. An individual illegally operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.15 would likely have very little control over their vehicle and dangerously slow reaction times to both visual and auditory information.
The moral consequences of driving under the influence alone should be enough to prohibit drivers from participating in this dangerous behavior. If it is not, the law is rightfully unforgiving when it comes to punishing those who still decide to do so. This strict enforcement arose in the 1980's and has only grown more strict since.
A driver who was found by authorities to have been operating their vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 or above can incur a misdemeanor or even felony charge. Penalties include but are not limited to revocation of a driver's license, costly fines and even time in jail. Even a first-time offender may find themselves paying upwards of $10,000 in legal fees and fines.
For those who continually disobey DUI laws, many states force them to install “ignition interlock devices” which require the driver to blow into a device and start the vehicle only if their BAC is less than about 0.02, well below the legal limit. This device is installed at the driver's expense. Those who choose not to install it not longer have the privilege of operating a vehicle in the United States.
With rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft as widely available as they are today, there is absolutely no excuse to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you do not have the money for a rideshare service, consider asking a sober friend to drive you home. Either way the bottom line is that if you choose to drive with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, you not only risk endangering the lives of you, your passengers, and all nearby drivers, but you risk incurring serious legal liability that could cripple your finances and reputation for years to come.
Call An Accident Injury Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of another’s driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important that you contact an accident injury lawyer right away. We will inform you on what steps must be taken in order to set you on the optimal path toward recovery.
The expertise of our attorneys also enables our clients to obtain a fair settlement. These settlements reduce the financial stress associated with vehicle collisions and injury. Call our office today to request a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys.