DUIs and Serious Consequences of Alcoholic or Binge Drinking
Alcoholic or Binge Drinking
There was a time, not long ago, when one would drink too much get in his or her car and drive without serious consequences. Over the last few decades, perhaps due to the powerful voices of organizations such as Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) combined with the reality that drunk driving causes deaths and injuries every year, laws have changed. They are punitive and geared to teach a lesson. Whether or not they are actually working can be debated.
To understand the problem of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), we need to understand the definitions of binge drinking and alcoholic drinking. Neither is good and both produce serious health conditions and risk financial devastation for the addict’s family.
Binge drinking used to be defined as drinking heavily over several days. Today, binge drinking is defined as consuming great amounts of alcohol within a short period of time. Indeed, one may binge over the course of a weekend or over the course of an evening.
The definition of alcoholic drinking has also changed over the decades. The broad definition addresses the regular consumption of alcohol despite negative consequences (that is an abbreviated definition). Either way, binge drinking or alcoholic drinking and driving is a recipe for disaster because alcohol affects every body system.
Alcohol is a depressant. It slows all reflexes, so why we think we can drink and still be able to drive without placing others’ or our own lives at risk is a mystery. Furthermore, as blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases, the risk of accidents and impairment increases. According to the University of Potsdam, the risk of death for drivers in single vehicle crashes with high BAC is 385 times that of a zero BAC driver. According to Center for Disease Control, an average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before the first arrest. Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve alcohol impaired drivers. That is one person every 48 minutes.
The impact of alcohol on driving is easily understood:
- It slows reaction time
- It interferes with one’s ability to make decisions
- It interferes with the speed in which decisions are made
- It impacts one’s ability to judge distance
- It alters vision and hearing
- It limits coordination
- It induces a false sense of confidence.
Even small amounts of alcohol change perception and lower healthy inhibitions toward risk taking
DUIs and Consequences
Once drinks have been consumed and a person decides to drive, he or she is left vulnerable to suffering the consequences associated with DUIs. These consequences will impact one’s emotional well-being, finances, perhaps one’s career and definitely one’s family. It is a crime to drink and drive.
If you register over 0.08 BAC , you have reached your legal limit. Some researchers have indicated that the brain functions differently with a BAC as low as 0.03.
What are the consequences for even a first time offender?
- License revoked or suspended (if you refuse to take a breathalyzer, your license can be revoked for noncooperation). Some states begin suspension with 90 days. Repeated suspension can last a year or more.
- Restricted driving rights
- Installation of ignition interlock (a device that analyzes
BAC before a car’s ignition can be started)
- Mandatory court appearance
- Loss of vehicle for a month (on average)
- Attending Level II alcohol classes
- Enforced therapy
- Tire locks to make use of the car impossible
- Community service hours
Many individuals convicted of DUI assume it will not cost much to either represent themselves in court or hire an attorney. But with court orders, fees and hearings, the cost can mount quickly, adding up to $10,000. According to Alaska’s government page from the Division of Motor Vehicles, the average cost of a first DUI is $24,265 and perhaps 3 days in jail.
There are other unforeseen consequences of DUI as well, such as being able to maintain you car insurance. There is a good possibility that after a single DUI, your insurance rates will increase or, worse, your coverage may be cancelled. In some states, insurance companies will cancel a newly convicted drunk driver and reissue an SR-22 form. It costs more but, more significantly, it labels the driver. This insurance status is kept for 3 years and, only then, after a clean record is obtained, can one return to normal driver status.
There will also be a mark on your driving record. You may seek to have your record expunged after completion of your court ordered punishment, but that will cost more money. Expunging the record usually can only occur if it is a first violation and there are no other outstanding criminal motions, lawsuits or court order sentences.
Each state maintains its own regulations and sentencing guidelines for crime. The same is true for multiple offenses for DUIs.
If you have received a second or third offense, you will probably face more jail time.
- Jail time can range from days to months.
- License suspension can range from one year to five years. Some states will suspend a license for two to ten years for multiple offenses.
In Ohio, if you are convicted of 4 DUIs within 6 years, you can face felony charges with increased jail time and license suspension or permanent revocation.
In all states, penalties are contingent upon serious injury to another person, death to another, number of DUIs within a specific time period or DUIs without time limits.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
If you have been driving after drinking and have not been stopped, count yourself lucky but understand that your luck may soon run out. Do you really want to be the cause of injury to another human being or destruction of property? Do you want to place your career and perhaps your family’s financial security at risk?
You don’t have to wait until a crisis occurs to take positive action. Alcohol addiction treatment is available and does work. You can take control of your life and stop the craziness of binge drinking or alcoholic drinking by entering an alcohol rehab center. Change is possible now. Don’t wait until it is forced on you by the courts.
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