Drunk Driving: Increased or Decreased in the Last 5 Years?

One Friday night, Linda met up with some co-workers for appetizers, trivia and a few cocktails.  At the end of the night, one friend called a cab, Linda had one drink in a 3 hour period, and another friend, Joni, who left without saying good-bye, had 3 or 4 margaritas.  When Linda noticed that Joni had left the restaurant, she tried to stop her from leaving the parking lot, but her car was already gone.  Joni has a bad and dangerous habit of driving while drunk, but promises she won’t do it each time they go out for drinks.  The next morning, Linda got a call from Joni, who was calling from the police station.  Joni had been pulled over for suspicious driving, was given a breathalyzer, and was taken to jail with a BAC of 0.100 (well over the legal limit of 0.08).  After receiving a DWI, Joni told Linda that she was surprised that she had been pulled over, as she had driven at least 3 dozen times while legally drunk.  “I drive fine!” she told Linda, “The only reason I swerved was because I was trying to make a phone call.”  Linda knew that Joni’s drinking behavior was problematic and urged her to seek help.  Had Joni not been pulled over by police, she could have been responsible for the injuries or death of an innocent victim.

The Drunk Driving Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average drunk driver has driven 80 times, while intoxicated, before the first arrest.  Drunk driving is expensive (an average of $500 per adult/year) and happens far too frequently (1-in-3 people will be involved in an alcohol related crash in their lifetime).  Additionally, drunk driving is responsible for thousands of crash-related injuries and deaths each year.  Fortunately, drunk driving incidents have decreased in the last 5 years.  In 2005, there were 13, 582 drunk driving related fatalities, but five years later, in 2010, there were 10, 228.  Reports show that the number of fatalities and injuries continue to decrease.  While thousands of drunk driving related injuries and deaths are still far too many, it seems as though drivers are finally starting to “wise up” and/or enforcement is becoming stricter.  Either way, the numbers show that more lives are being spared on our roadways.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the decrease in drunk driving incidents can be partly attributed to drunk driving awareness and enforcement efforts such as the Zero Tolerance Laws.  Additionally, among major crimes, driving under the influence (DUI) has one of the highest arrest rates with more than 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010.  High rates of arrests are potentially preventing drunk driving related incidents before they occur.

Just because drunk driving, overall, has decreased, it does not mean that you should start or continue to drive while under the influence.  Drunk driving is dangerous and very difficult.  When you are impaired, you’re driving becomes impaired.  Reaction time slows down, judgment is poor, and depth perception is inaccurate, which can all lead to an accident that could result in injuries or even death, leaving YOU with the legal ramifications.  Don’t take the risk, don’t increase the problem, don’t drink and drive!

Life Consequences After a DUI

Most people understand that a DUI is a serious conviction. It’s socially stigmatizing, and it will have long term effects on your driving, insurance and even employment. As such, it’s important to know what you might be up for if you expose yourself to a DWI conviction, or have already plead guilty.

Loss of a License

The most common punishment for DUI is a severe fine, but many states like to up the ante by removing your right to drive entirely. Whether by putting a large number of “points” on your license or by revoking it automatically, most states keep you from driving after a DWI. This is because preventing you from legally driving at all will make it difficult for you to drive drunk and get away with it, and also because unlicensed driving statutes are notoriously harsh. Jail time, impounding of the vehicle and painful fines will be put up to keep you from driving, and many states will require you to inform them of any and all cars you might drive so that police can keep a lookout and catch you the moment you try to drive unlicensed.

Increased Insurance Rates

According to Tenn and Tenn, our New Hampshire dwi attorney, f you are convicted of driving while intoxicated, your car insurance rates are guaranteed to go up. Drunk driving is not only inherently dangerous, it shows your insurance company that you are making bad decisions and exposing them to severe financial risk. Even insurance companies that don’t cover damage done to or by drunk driving incidents will nonetheless increase their rates because they believe you can’t be trusted to drive responsibly. Health and life insurance rates may also be increased, because drunk driving is a very dangerous activity and so it exposes those insurance companies to medical bills and death benefits they did not previously have to worry about.

Employment Problems

Most people think that the only way a DWI conviction can keep them from getting a job would be that it would keep them from getting to work if their license was taken away. However, most employers now check the backgrounds of existing and future employees whenever they need to be evaluated, and a DWI conviction may result in not being hired or worse – being fired. This is because drunk driving shows that one lacks the ability to plan ahead and prevent severe consequences from coming up. As such, most companies do not want to hire someone with a DWI conviction, because they believe such a person is too risky to be trusted with company responsibilities and secrets. This is of course much worse for persons who will be expected to drive as part of their employment. Truck and bus drivers will get it the worst, because they are expected to drive responsibly in public.

The best way to avoid a DWI conviction is to not drink and drive in the first place. If you have been drinking, be sure to have a way home. If you think you are impaired, you most certainly are, and should stop driving. If all else fails, get off the road and out of your vehicle, and even think about calling an attorney if you are stuck and can’t drive out of the situation.

Anthony Joseph is a blogger and contributing writer for the law offices of Tenn and Tenn. Since 1951, they have been committed to providing the highest level of client service and trial advocacy. The hallmarks of their strategy include listening to their clients and understanding their objectives, with attention to detail.

What To Do When Your Teen Gets a DUI

Learning to drive is one of the defining moments in the journey from adolescence to adulthood. While driving can be a rewarding experience for many young adults, it can be difficult for some younger people to understand the risks associated with driving. In some cases, poor judgement can result in a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge. While it’s a good idea to contact an attorney if a teenager gets charged with an alcohol-related moving offence, there are several steps a parent can take to reduce the consequences of a DWI.

Teaching Proper Responsibility

  • The best way to avoid problems is by teaching a teenager about responsibility. Since many teenagers don’t think about the consequences of their actions, they will often take risks that could result in harm to themselves and other people. This isn’t just limited to DWIs; it can also include speeding, reckless driving and more.
  • It’s a good idea to have an accountability system for teenagers with their own vehicle. Instead of letting teenagers have full control of their vehicle, it’s important to set curfews. For example, teenagers drink alcohol in the evening or late at night. Because of this, these hours can be the most likely time a teenager will find himself or herself behind the wheel while intoxicated.
  • Teenagers should not be allowed to drive after 9 PM unless they are going to a school event, religious event or other approved activity. If teenagers are going to a party, it’s important to make sure they won’t be drinking and driving. If they will be drinking at a party, it’s important to make sure they spend the night at the host’s home.
  • It’s also important to make sure that teenagers have an open line of communication with their parents. Many teenagers will feel ashamed about underage drinking. Instead of calling their parents for a ride, some teenagers will risk driving under the influence.
  • Let teenagers know that while underage drinking isn’t good, DWI is much worse. Tell them that they can always get a ride from their parents if they have been drinking, regardless of the time. It’s also important to not shame or punish teenagers if they ask for a ride; instead, try to figure out a way to avoid these types of situations in the future.

Teaching Teenagers About Consequences

  • Our New Jersey DWI lawyer reminds us that very year, almost 30,000 people are killed in automotive-related accidents in the United States. Many of these accidents involve the use of alcohol.
  • It’s a good idea for teenagers to see the brutal consequences of a DUI-related crash. There are many websites that host disturbing photos and videos of vehicle accidents. Try finding an extremely brutal video or photo of a DUI-related crash. While accident videos with severe physical trauma or death can be disturbing, they can help children understand the harsh reality of driving. Operating a multi-ton vehicle at highway speeds can be extremely dangerous.

After the Fact

If a teenager does have a DWI, it’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. He or she can help teenagers and their parents negotiate down a DWI charge. There are some consequences that may be avoided by having the right defense at the right time.

Anthony Joseph studies legal subjects in his spare time, and is a contributing author for the law office of Evan M. Levow, a New Jersey DWI lawyer. Mr. Levow is a lawyer who exclusively practices DWI defense throughout every court in the state of new jersey. He has qualifications that no other attorney in this State shares, and he knows what it takes to properly defend you.