Driving Down DUIs

Each year tens of thousands of people die in traffic crashes. Throughout the nation alcohol is the major contributor to traffic fatalities. In 2002, alcohol-related fatalities rose to 17,490, representing 41% of all traffic fatalities. In 1991, in a Gallup survey of over 9000 drivers nationwide, 14% of the respondents reported that, within the last three months of the survey date, they drove while close to being under the influence of alcohol. It is conservatively estimated that the typical DUI violator commits that offense about 80 times per year. In other words, the average DUI violator drives while “under the influence” at least once every four or five nights. Many underestimate the effect that just one alcoholic drink can have on our blood alcohol level. In Maryland, .08% or higher is a DUI, and between .04% and .08% a person’s driving may be impaired by the alcohol. Depending on a person’s weight, it can take as little as 2 drinks to raise the blood alcohol level to the level of impairment and 3 drinks to reach a level of legally drunk.

Several things can affect the impact of blood alcohol level of a person, including weight, food consumption, hydration, gender, and even mood! Tolerance, however, does not have an effect on this level. So, while heavy drinkers may feel as though they are fine because their body is able to adapt to the effects of alcohol, their blood alcohol level is still rising on every drink. Because of these many variables affecting a person, the best way to assure that you are not driving under the impairment or influence of alcohol is to abstain from drinking and driving all together.

Educating people on the effects of each drink they consume and the factors that come into play when considering alcohols effect is one way that can help reduce the number of DUIs and drivers risking their lives and the lives of others on the streets. If they are more aware of the point at which they are breaking the law, they may be less likely to take that chance after having a few drinks.

Another approach to reducing the number of drinking drivers is general deterrence of DWI. General deterrence of DWI is based on the public’s fear of being arrested. If enough violators come to believe that there is a good chance they will get caught, at least some of them will stop committing DWI at least some of the time. However, unless there is a real risk of arrest, there will not be much fear of arrest. The fear of the punishment does not seem to be enough:

1st Offense
  • Jail - Up to 1 year (DUI); up to 2 months (DWI)
  • Fines and Penalties - Up to $1,000 (DUI); up to $500 (DWI)
  • License Suspension - Min 6 months (DUI & DWI)
  • IID** Required - No
2nd Offense
  • Jail - Up to 2 years (DUI); up to 1 year (DWI)
  • Fines and Penalties - Up to $2,000 (DUI); up to $500 (DWI)
  • License Suspension - 1 year (DUI & DWI)
  • IID** Required - Yes
3rd Offense
  • Jail - Up to 3 years
  • Fines and Penalties - Up to $3,000
  • License Suspension - 18 months min.
  • IID** Required - Yes

The individuals that come to our office fall into numerous categories. There are those for whom it is their first offense and others who have multiple offenses for alcohol and/or alcohol and drugs. It is important, regardless of whether it is a first or subsesquent offense, that anyone reaches out to their attorney as quickly as possible to discuss the best route through the process. The purpose of this and other articles is to inform potential clients of the process and how a lawyer may assist you in navigating the system and, hopefully, with the best possible outcome.

Again, the best outcome for any person will result from abstaining from drinking when you have to drive, regardless of how far your drive will be. If you have even the slightest doubt, best to take a taxi rather than risk the troubles of these offenses which can be quite substantial regardless of which offense it is.

Fred Antenberg is an attorney who represents individuals charged with Driving Under the Influence and with Driving While Impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, and will defend you in court. Fred represents DWI/DUI cases in Howard County, Maryland, as well as throughout the State of Maryland. Call Fred today at 410- 730-4404.