The Two Automatic Statutory Offenses Drunk Drivers can be Charged With
When drivers drink and then drive, the possible consequence is road accident that can cause property damage and, possibly, injuries. For more than a hundred years, driving while impaired has put many lives in danger, including the drunk driver’s very own life.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has named drunk driving as one of the top causes of motor vehicle accidents. In 2010, it was the cause of 10,228 deaths and 1.4 million arrests. In 2011, another 9,878 individuals lost their lives due to it, while in 2012, the number of lives lost was 10,322.
The first blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers was determined at 0.15% – this was in 1938. Until the late 1990s, death toll due to driving under the influence had an average of 20,000 annually. In 2000, the US Congress passed into law a new national illegal limit for impaired driving: 0.08% BAC. This was in the hope of reducing substantially the yearly average of fatal car accidents.
Drunk driving offenses, especially repeat offenses or if the accident caused injury or death, can result to many legal implications for the liable, negligent driver besides the heavy fines and probable jail sentence (the amount of the fine and the length of the jail sentence depends on the severity of the offense). The court may also decide to require the driver to fill out an SR-22 form (also called Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR) form or FR-44), as well as have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed inside the liable driver’s vehicle. Aside from these, all U.S. states also apply two statutory offenses n those caught under the influence of alcohol while driving:
- The first is the charge of DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while impaired/ intoxicated), or OWI (operating a motor vehicle while impaired/ intoxicated). Determination of any of the three takes its basis from the arresting officer’s observations and judgment arrived at through roadside sobriety test results, and the driver’s slurred speech and driving behavior.
- The second is what is called “illegal per se” or driving with at least a 0.08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level.
An article in the website of the Sampson Law Firm says that despite much effort from the police department to “pull drunk drivers off the road before they can cause an accident, the fact remains that drunk drivers continue to cause serious accidents with disturbing regularity. Sadly, these accidents can be particularly dangerous because of the circumstances under which they occur—for instance, many accidents are caused in part by excessive speed, running stoplights and stop signs, and reckless behavior that can be difficult for victims to anticipate prior to the accident.
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