It is a common saying that drinking and driving should not mix. But, the thousands of annual DUI-related offenses, crashes, and deaths in the USA show that many people do not subscribe to that saying.
What is DUI
DUI is an offense of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When a person is suspected of consuming alcohol or drugs to the point of intoxication, they are administered one of a sobriety or breath test (at the spot) or a drug test (carried out on a sample in a lab). In some states, DUI offenses include not just driving a vehicle but operating it or being in the driver’s seat and holding the key when pulled over.
Demographic characteristics like age and gender have essential roles in predisposition to DUI offenses. DUI offenses are quite spread among different age groups, but young people tend to be the group with the most offenders. Of the hundreds of DUI-related accidents that occur daily, 67% involve drivers aged 34years or below. This means that young people are more likely to cause or be involved in a DUI incident than any other group.
On sex distribution, females are more likely to be arrested for DUI offenses than males. Also, females are more likely to be involved in an actual crash/accident resulting from intoxication. In summary, young females are more likely to be involved in a DUI than any other group due to differences in body weight.
DUI is a grave offense even though many first offenders are encouraged to wave it off by family and friends. A significant number of DUI arrestees will commit the crime more than once in their lifetime (1 out of 3 are repeat offenders), meaning that your chances of getting arrested again increase with the first offense. While they may differ slightly from state to state, driving under the influence has similar legal consequences worldwide. They range from fines to license suspension or even jail. The following are consequences of DUI and reasons why you need to start treating it more seriously.
Any person accused of an offense is deemed innocent until a competent court rules otherwise. Many DUI offenders, upon conviction, get fined. Usually, first-time offenders receive a fine of $500 – $1000, especially when the offense did not result in a crash. This is the most lenient punishment for a DUI offense.
2. License suspension
Punishment for DUI increases with the severity of the offense. Apart from fines, a person convicted of drinking under the influence may get their license suspended for a period of 6 months to 3 years. The two factors that may raise the punishment from fines to license suspension include repeat offense and refusal to take a field or lab test.
In many cases, a DUI offender may get jail time, alone, or combined with either or both a fine and license suspension. Rarely do first offenders get jail time, but it is still possible. Jail time for first offenders can start from 5 days to 6 months, depending on the state. A combination of repeat offense, alcohol level when arrested, and the incidence of the crash and its severity will increase the possible jail time from days/months to several years.
DUI has consequences for other people, not just the offenders. One out of every three fatal road accidents is caused by intoxication. In 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 211 children were killed in drunk driving accidents.
Below are tips for staying safe if you at worried about DUI and the legal consequences that come with it.
1. Do not drink if you intend to drive: If you plan to go out to drive, do not drink. While the first or second bottle may not cause intoxication for some, it does for many, and sometimes, it is hard to stop when you have started. So, avoid drinking if you intend to drive later.
2. Get a designated driver: If you have had a drink, or more than one, you should hire or get a non-drinking friend to drive you and others who drank with you.
3. Avoid drunk drivers: You may not have been drinking, but you must avoid being in a vehicle with a driver who has been. If you don’t, it won’t matter if you observed the two tips above. If you see or learn of a drinker who intends to drive, take steps to take their keys away or contact the authorities.
4. Hire a lawyer: If you have failed to observe the above steps and already have a DUI case, you should immediately hire a lawyer. They are your best bet at escaping a severe fine, license suspension, or jail time.
DUI offenses are serious, and their consequences can be dire for all parties involved. Offenders are usually young, aged 34. Females record more arrests than males. Many of these incidents result in death, with over 30% of all road accidents deaths resulting from alcohol consumption. Consequences can range from simple fines to jail time. However, people can avoid DUIs altogether or reduce the legal punishment by observing the tips outlined in the article, thereby keeping themselves and others safe.