Drunk-driving or alcohol-impaired driving is the cause of at least 10,000 fatal car crashes in the U.S. (total yearly fatal crashes number to more than 32,000). Records from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics show 1.4 million individuals arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or both.
In all U.S. states, driving with a 0.08% (or higher) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is a crime. A first offense DUI is usually treated as only a misdemeanor; it is considered a more serious offense if the alcohol-impaired driver injures or kills someone, or if his/her BAC level is higher than the 0.08% limit.
Many federal and state authorities are determined and overzealous in catching violators of the anti-drunk driving law, thus, they are sharp and focused on observing any signs of drunk-driving, such as braking erratically, driving too slowly, swerving, stopping for no apparent reason or zig-zagging across the road. For the same end, they set up sobriety checkpoints to check on alcohol-impaired drivers, as well as measure their BAC level.
A DUI felony is punished with costly fines and at least one year jail time. In some states, a felony leads to other heavy sentences, such as:
- Mandatory installation of an Ignition interlock, which is a device that will prevent a vehicle from starting if it detects in the driver a BAC level that is higher than what is considered a safe level (about 0.02%);
- Administrative license suspension (ALS), a law that gives law enforcers the authority to confiscate a driver’s license if the driver fails a chemical test. This can last for 90 days – 180 days, during which driving privileges may be limited to/from work;
- Open container law. This law, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), requires states to prohibit the possession of open alcohol beverage containers, as well as the consumption of an alcoholic beverage, in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on public highways.
Understanding how serious a DUI charge is should make a person think twice before sitting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. However, there are just instances when impairment gets the better of a driver. It will require a seasoned Columbia DUI defense attorney if you get charged with a DUI offense, more so if the charge is a felony.