DUI and College Admissions

Getting admitted into the college of one’s choice can be a challenge.  In addition to submitting essays and letters of reference, colleges may ask for information regarding arrests and criminal history.  A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction is something that could result in getting denied admission to one’s dream college.

There are two kinds of DUI convictions: misdemeanor and felony.  Most first-time DUI convictions are misdemeanors.  A DUI becomes a felony based upon a few factors.  A DUI may get upgraded to a felony charge based upon blood alcohol level at the time of arrest, prior convictions, or if the DUI resulted in an injury or death.  While every state limits the blood alcohol level for a DUI to 0.08 percent, they don’t all penalize a DUI the same way.  Because of that, there is no way to definitely say when a DUI charge will be considered a misdemeanor or a felony.

Regardless of what type of DUI one has, the conviction can have long-lasting effects.  If a college application asks for information regarding arrests and convictions, it is best to be honest about having a DUI.  A one-time offense may not be considered a reason to deny an application, especially if the student is willing to prove a change in attitude and behavior by completing a drug and alcohol program.  In some cases, the dishonesty about having a DUI conviction or arrest will result in an admission denial, not the DUI itself.  However, multiple DUI arrests and convictions are definitely considered grounds for a university to deny admission, as this pattern reveals a lot about the character of the applicant.

While actually getting admitted into college is often a big enough stressor in a student’s life, many also have the extra concern of how to pay for their education.  Financial aid is another area of the college admission process that can be negatively impacted by DUI convictions.  A felony DUI conviction is a reason for many federal financial aid programs to deny assistance to students.  Privately offered scholarships may also be affected by a DUI arrest or conviction.  The requirements for different financial aid options vary and it is the applicant’s responsibility to qualify for the aid and also divulge all requested information.  There are scholarships available for college applicants who have a DUI arrest record, so it is important to be honest and hopeful.

DUI arrests and convictions can add another level of uncertainty to a college applicant’s life.  Universities and colleges set their own rules for how they deal with the criminal background of potential students.  In addition, financial aid options may be limited due to DUI arrests and convictions.  Although a DUI arrest or conviction may make the college application process more challenging, there are opportunities available for anyone who is willing to put in the work.

DUI / DWI Conviction Road

DUI Conviction Road

From the first traffic stop to the legal process concerning of a DUI or DWI conviction, the time, cost and potential injury involved with drinking and driving is a tangled mess that can be avoided. By simply understanding a person’s inability to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, lives can be saved, as well as the money, frustration and embarrassment of a DUI or DWI conviction.

 

Caution: Driving After a Night of Drinking

When a DUI offender is convicted, many states require the installation of an ignition interlock device on the offender’s vehicle. These devices ensure that the driver is not operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, helping to save lives and combat the problem of DUI recidivism across the country. The device, however, does not prevent a person from consuming alcohol, but is a method to help change the behaviors associated with drinking and driving.

Morning After Drinking DrivingIgnition interlock devices are able to detect the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a person through a “breath test” of the offender. Blood alcohol content is measured to ensure that the driver is able to safely operate the vehicle, whether alcohol was consumed within an hour of testing, or even several hours before. These devices help ensure the safety of our roads, and enable an offender to resume the normal activities of life, such as maintaining employment and fulfilling social and family obligations. As such, many offenders are satisfied with consuming alcohol safely, by staying home or appointing a designated driver.

After a night of drinking, however, it is still possible that a person’s BAC is too high to safely operate a vehicle and an ignition interlock device can detect alcohol that was consumed even the night before. Since the metabolism of alcohol can depend on several factors, such as gender, body weight and the amount of alcohol consumed, it is always safest to assume that any alcohol consumption the night before can affect a breath test the next morning. In order to remain safe and follow the guidelines of a DUI conviction, all offenders with an IID are encouraged to wait until there is no chance of alcohol remaining in the blood stream before operating a vehicle.

With shocking statistics regarding habitual drinking and driving, as well as the dangers of driving under the influence, even the most careful DUI offender can be held responsible for a night of drinking, well into the next day. Always be sure to drink responsibly, and eliminate the problems that can be caused by driving the day following a night of alcohol consumption.

Ignition Interlock Laws – Moving to a New State

Interlock Laws Between StatesDriving under the influence of alcohol is a problem across the country. With 1.41 million drivers arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence, the mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices in vehicles is saving lives each day. When a convicted DUI offender is ordered to install an ignition interlock device in a vehicle, that person is responsible for not only consuming alcohol safely, but also following legal guidelines related to the device itself. Most offenders readily comply with these regulations, but situations can occur where compliance becomes difficult, especially when it comes to the laws in different states.

If a driver is convicted of a DUI and must install an ignition interlock device in one state, but lives in another, compliance must be maintained with the original state. The device can be installed in the state in which the convicted offender resides, but, all reports must be sent to the state in which the conviction occurs. This assures the state in which the driver was convicted that the offender is complying with its regulations, even if they differ from the residential state.

If a convicted driver is compelled to move to another state during the time period in which an ignition interlock device is ordered as a result of a DUI conviction, the driver must still maintain compliance with the state in which the offense occurred. As part of the ignition interlock system, a monthly data report must be submitted to the original state by an interlock service center. These centers can be in any state, as long as the data is transmitted to the state where the offense took place.

As a word of caution, trying to circumvent a DUI sentence that includes the mandated installation of an ignition interlock device will only increase the fines, penalties and possible jail time associated with the DUI conviction. Whether moving to a new state while under the restraints of an ignition interlock device, or not reporting the data to an out-of-state agency, the risks involved will only increase the chances of further DUI penalties for the convicted offender, regardless of where he or she resides.

Safe & Sober Driving this Thanksgiving

Drive Sober this ThanksgivingDrinking and driving is a problem for many throughout the year, putting the lives of others at risk across the United States. Statistics show, however, that the night before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking night of the year, when family and friends gather together and celebrate a long weekend of food, alcohol and togetherness. Unfortunately, as the biggest drinking night of the year, Thanksgiving Eve is also one of the most dangerous nights for drivers on the road. Knowing and understanding the risks involved with drinking and driving is an important aspect of all Thanksgiving celebrations.

According to M.A.D.D., in 2010, 40% of highway deaths (174 people) occurred over the entire Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This figure is a 30% increase in drunk driving related fatalities over the course of the year. The day before Thanksgiving, known as “Blackout Wednesday” contributes significantly to these figures, as people choose to celebrate by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol without a designated driver safety plan in place. Choosing to drink and drive over the safety of the drinker, family, friends or others on the road is no way to celebrate, and in fact, can bring about devastating tragedies that forever mark Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season for everyone.

If alcohol is on the menu on the night before Thanksgiving, the best way to ensure a safe drive home for everyone is to have a designated driver safety plan in place. This can be as simple as asking a friend or family member to refrain from drinking in order to be able to soberly operate a vehicle. Other designated driver options include having the phone numbers of taxi companies readily available, or to make use of community-sponsored designated driver programs.

On the biggest drinking night of the year, be sure your Thanksgiving plans include a safe way to get home after drinking alcohol. By planning ahead and understanding the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, you can keep the Thanksgiving celebrations happy and joyous throughout the years to come.

Dram Shop Liability Laws

A dram shop is a legal term in the United States which refers to a bar or another establishment where alcoholic beverages are served and/or sold.  Originally liquor was served by the ‘dram’, a liquid measurement equivalent to roughly 1/8 of a fluid ounce.  Thus, the term ‘dram shop’ was born.

Dram Shop Liability LawsDram shop liability laws are laws which state that owners of a bar or hosts of a party who serves alcoholic beverages can be held legally responsible for what their patrons/guests do after they’ve been drinking.  For example, a person injured by an intoxicated person through a motor vehicle accident or even a bar fight, can sue establishments contributing to that person’s intoxication.

Dram shop liability laws, like DUI laws, vary from state to state. There are no dram shop laws in seven states (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota or Virginia), while in Alabama, Alaska and Michigan, the liability is limited to selling alcohol to minors or known alcoholics.  The laws in most other states cover serving people who are intoxicated.

Here’s a list of specific laws state by state: http://www.madd.org/laws/law-overview/Dram_Shop_Overview.pdf

Because bar owners are liable, to varying degrees, for the actions of their patrons consuming alcohol, many states require that bars carry liquor liability insurance in addition to general liability coverage.  However, these policies do not cover owners who serve minors and/or if they serve someone who is clearly drunk.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), dram shop liability laws are beneficial by helping to reduce alcohol-related crashes, increasing publicity of the impacts of over-serving and decreasing excessive and illegal consumption.  2001 research found that dram shop liability laws have decreased fatal motor vehicle crashes by 5.8 percent.

Contact an attorney for more information on dram shop liability laws in your state.

Can You Afford to Drink and Drive?

Can You Afford to Drink and Drive?

Drinking and driving is not only a dangerous and potentially deadly action, but one that has a tremendous financial impact on the offender. The costs associated with a DUI conviction are high, as much as $10,000 or more, and include bail money, fines and fees, attorney costs, insurance, towing and the costs of an ignition interlock device. With the enormous costs and potential for injury and death associated with driving under the influence of alcohol, drinking and driving just does not add up.

Weird Alcohol Laws

Weird Alcohol LawsWith Election Day just a week ago, we started thinking about all of the crazy legislation that citizens vote into law. Here are ten of the weirdest laws surrounding alcohol.

1. Utah – Starting this year Utah put a state-wide ban on happy hour drink specials.

2. New York – You can buy wine, wine glasses, wine stoppers and corkscrews at a liquor store, but the state of New York prohibits them from selling wine gift bags. Sell a gift bag to a wine buying customer and you’ll be fined $10,000.

3. Colorado – Wine must be sold in containers of at least 24 ounces and spirits in containers at least a fifth of a gallon. But, at the same time, it also states that no alcohol beverage can be stored in hotel minibars in anything larger than miniature containers.

4. Oklahoma – Lager beer is not allowed to be served chilled.

5. Missouri – Anyone under the age of 21 who takes out household trash containing even a single empty alcohol beverage container can be charged with illegal possession of alcohol.

6. Nebraska – It is illegal for a bar to sell beer unless it is simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.

7. Iowa – It’s illegal to “run a tab” in Iowa.

8. Indiana – It is illegal for liquor stores to sell milk or cold soft drinks. They can, however, sell unrefrigerated soft drinks.

9. California – No alcohol beverages can be displayed within five feet of a cash register of any store in California that sells both alcohol and motor fuel.

10. Kentucky and South Carolina – Both states ban alcohol sales on election days.

What weird laws have been passed in your jurisdiction?

Houston, er- Massachusetts, We Have a Problem!

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council shows astonishingly high acquittal rates when drunk driving cases go to trialA year-long study commissioned by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council shows astonishingly high acquittal rates when drunk driving cases go to trial with issues of defendants using “judge shopping” tactics, defense attorneys arguing timeframe technicalities for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing, and courts not allowing a defendant’s refusal of a BAC test to be admitted as evidence.

Jurors across the state acquit about 50% of the time, while judges find defendants not guilty 86% of the time. The highest percentage of acquittals by judges were in Worcester County, where practically all drunk driving defendants were found not guilty.

The study examined nearly 57,000 DUI cases that were heard from 2008 to 2011.  The study recommends better training for judges on how to handle specific evidence in criminal trials as well as measures to pass tougher laws and courtroom policies to help erase the ‘appearance of leniency’ in the DUI cases decided by judges instead of juries.

Meanwhile, as a result of the report, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.  MADD National President Jan Withers said, “The current system in Massachusetts is broken, and MADD urges legislators to make critical improvements to save lives and prevent injuries, including requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks for at least 6 months.”

Presently ignition interlock devices are only mandatory for repeat convictions in Massachusetts.

What actions do you think Massachusetts should take as a result of their high acquittal rates?

Alabama’s Ignition Interlock Device Law – Protecting People

In 2011, Alabama passed an ignition interlock law that increased the penalties and consequences for those who are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. As the last state in the U.S. to pass an ignition interlock law, Alabama’s Act 11-613 (HB 361) focused mainly on those who are repeat DUI offenders, as well as those with a BAC of .15 or higher, almost twice the legal limit in the U.S. This law not only increases fines and jail sentences related to drunk driving and driving under the influence in Alabama, but also defines the following criteria for ignition interlock installation periods and driver’s license revocation:

Criteria for Driving Under the Influence Convictions in Alabama

  • BAC >=0.15 OR BAC >=0.08 with a minor under 14 in vehicle
  • Or, refusal to submit to breath testing
  • Or, someone other than the driver of the vehicle was injured at the time of offense

Alabama’s Ignition Interlock Device LawFirst Time Revocation: License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 2 years.

2nd Revocation (In a 5-year period): License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 2 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.

3rd or Revocation (In a 5-year period): License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 3 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.

4th or Revocation (In a 5-year period): License revocation for one year, plus mandatory ignition interlock installation for a minimum of 5 years from the date of driver’s license re-issuance.

Additional Alabama Ignition Interlock Law Information

  • Convicted offenders are required to get an “ignition interlock required” type license to indicate the operator is required to maintain an ignition interlock device.
  • Any convicted offender required to utilize ignition interlock found operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device is subject to an additional period of six months of ignition interlock requirement, in addition to other penalties.
  • If the offender incurs any of the following violations while the ignition interlock device is installed, the time the IID is installed on the car will be extended for 6 months:
    • BAC >=.02 four or more times within a 30-day period
    • Tampering with or bypassing the ignition interlock device
    • Failure to get the ignition interlock device serviced within a 30-day period
  • If the convicted offender is arrested for a new DUI offense, refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test and is subsequently convicted OR the convicted offender’s BAC is >0.15, the duration of the time the IID is required shall be doubled.

Alabama’s Ignition Interlock Device law protects drivers on the road

  • Ignition Interlock Devices only work when they are installed. The NHTSA states that between 60% and 80% of drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive. Without an ignition interlock device, these drivers could be driving under the influence of alcohol. Long-term driver’s license revocations with no interlock options can lead people to complacency, encouraging convicted DUI offenders to drive while on suspension, leading to additional fines, legal issues, and compounded drunk driving offenses.
  • The Alabama Ignition Interlock Law allows convicted DUI offenders to drive legally and safely so that they can maintain employment and family/societal obligations. Recent studies prove that interlock devices can reduce DUI recidivism by up to 90% while they are installed (Voas & Marques, 2003; Willis et al., 2005; Vezina, 2002; Tippetts & Voas, 1997; Coben & Larkin, 1999).
  • The new Alabama law focuses on hardcore drunk drivers. In 2009, 70% of drivers involved in drunk driving fatalities had a BAC level >.15 or higher – a trend that has remained steady for more than a decade (NHTSA/FARS, 2010). By requiring Ignition Interlock devices, driving privileges for those with high BAC levels and numerous DUI offenses, this Act provides a reasonable alternative for safe driving that benefits the offender and the surrounding community.
  • The Alabama Interlock Act takes into account the time and effort needed to change behaviors. The longer IID installation periods for habitual offenders addresses the need for the time and effort required to support behavioral change.

While Alabama is the last state in the U.S. to pass an ignition interlock law, it is only the 13th state to require an IID for first-time convicted drunk drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or greater. More states should follow the example set forth by Alabama lawmakers, and increase the safety of the roads across the country.

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