Impaired Driving and Child Passengers

Intoxicated drivers who are arrested for DUI with a minor under the age of 16 in the vehicle are usually charged with child endangerment or child abuse in addition to a charge for drinking and driving.  Child endangerment is defined as the act of placing a child in a potentially harmful situation, either through neglect or misconduct.

The statistics for a DUI with a minor in the vehicle reveal how prevalent and dangerous the issue has become.

Impaired Driving and Child Passengers

  • Over half of all children killed in impaired driving crashes are killed while riding with the drunk driver. Most of the time, that person is old enough to be a parent or caregiver.
  • From 1988 through 1996, an estimated 149,000 child passengers were non-fatally injured in crashes involving a drinking driver. Of these, 58,000 (38.9 percent) were riding with a drinking driver when injured in the crash.
  • A 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 2,335 children were killed in drunk driving accidents between 1997 and 2002. Of those children who were killed, 68 percent of them were in a vehicle driven by an impaired driver.

Those arrested for child endangerment and/or child abuse (in addition to DUI) face a slew of legal consequences as well as personal consequences. Even a charge of child endangerment or child abuse that is eventually dismissed may be registered in a statewide database of offenders against children.  Because of the nature of the charge, some states will not allow these types of charges to be expunged or erased from a person’s police record.

Most states have laws enhancing consequences for those who drive drunk with a child passenger in a motor vehicle.  Visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information on the consequences of child endangerment and/or child abuse.

Planning Ahead with Designated Drivers for Holiday Parties

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, bringing fun events, celebrations and parties at work and with family and friends. During this time of the year, the food, festivities and alcoholic beverages seem endless, and while a great time can be had by all, each holiday season brings a sobering fact to light – drinking and driving do not mix.

Planning Ahead with Designated Drivers for Holiday PartiesAlcohol-related injuries and fatalities are far too common in the U.S. and around the world. While nobody may set out with the intention to get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol, one in three motor vehicle crashes involve a driver who has been drinking alcohol. An intoxicated person can not only show impaired judgment when attempting to get behind the wheel of a car, but, that poor judgment continues as the person starts up the vehicle and drives, putting everyone on the road at risk for injury or even death.

With a little careful planning, vehicle accidents involving a driver under the influence of alcohol can be avoided or eliminated completely. Designated drivers are a smart choice when it comes to being safe behind the wheel, creating a feeling of safety and peace of mind for all. Assigning a designated driver within a group of co-workers, family or friends is one of the best solutions to the problem of drinking and driving. During the holiday season, in fact, many bars and restaurants offer free, non-alcoholic drinks to the designated drivers in the mix. For private parties and gatherings, a designated driver can not only enjoy the festivities, but can also be proud of making a difference in the lives of those who could be a victim of a drunk driver.

Many local establishments, taxi companies and motor vehicle associations also offer free or discounted rides to people that are unable to drive safely. These community services take the place of a designated driver, and offer a life-saving opportunity to those who have had too much to drink while at a holiday celebration. If a designated driver is not available, keep a list of these services handy. If there is a doubt about your own ability to drive, or someone else’s level of intoxication, call for a ride.

For the holiday season, a little preparation and planning is the best way to avoid an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident. By staying safe and relying on a designated driver, alcohol-related fatalities and injuries during the holidays can be virtually eliminated, allowing the fun to continue throughout the holidays and years to come.

What Does .08 BAC Look Like?

Most people know that alcohol decreases a person’s ability to drive safely.  The more you drink, the higher your Blood Alcohol Concentration.  The amount of alcohol required to become impaired varies according to how quickly you drink, your weight, your gender, how much food you have in your stomach and your use of other medications.

BAC Facts:
What Does .08 BAC Look Like?

  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in the blood at any given time, which determines the effect the alcohol is having on the body.
  • The body metabolizes (or burns) alcohol at a consistent and steady rate.
  • The only thing that can lower a person’s BAC is time. There is NO way to decrease or dilute the amount of alcohol in the body by drinking and/or eating other things.
  • The faster a person drinks, the higher the BAC.

So what does a person with a .02 or higher BAC look like?

BAC .02

When a person has a .02 BAC he will experience some loss of judgment, relaxation, slightly warm body and an altered mood.

A driver with a .02 BAC will have a decline in visual functions and in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.

BAC .05

When a person has a .05 BAC he will experience exaggerated behaviors, may have trouble focusing his eyes, impaired judgment, lowered alertness and a release of inhibition.

A driver with a .05 BAC will have reduced coordination, a reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and reduced response to emergency driving situations.

So what happens at .08, the legal limit?

When a person has a .08 BAC his balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing are all uncoordinated. He will have a harder time detecting danger. His judgment, self-control, reasoning and memory are clearly impaired.

A driver with a .08 BAC will have difficulty concentrating, maintaining speed control, impaired perception and short-term memory loss.

BAC .10

When a person has a .10 BAC, which is above the legal limit, he will show a clear deterioration of reaction time and control.  He will display marked slurred speech, poor coordination and slowed thinking.

A driver with a .10 BAC will, in addition to the .08 BAC drivers, have a reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately.

Higher than .10 BAC?

  • At .12 – .15 BAC vomiting may occur.
  • .15 BAC is the equivalent of a half pint of whisky circulating in the blood stream.
  • At .25 BAC a person may lose consciousness.
  • Death may occur at .37 BAC.
  • BACs of .45 and higher are fatal for most people.

It’s important to note that even if you feel fine after a couple of drinks, remember that the alcohol IS affecting your judgment, reaction time and driving ability.

To completely reduce your risk of DUI and injury, plan ahead with a designated driver.

Drinking and Driving Reality Check

Facts about Drunk Driving

Drinking and driving is a serious offense, affecting the lives of one in three people over the course of a lifetime, whether as a passenger, impaired driver or victim of an alcohol-related accident. With an estimated 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day, costing the United States $132 billion each year, the implications of driving while intoxicated are both daunting and far-reaching. Even worse, one-third of drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated are repeat offenders, making recidivism a strong factor in the fight against drunk driving.

In 2010, over 1.41 million drivers were arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while intoxicated.
Preventing alcohol-related vehicle injuries and deaths begins with education and the support of laws restricting those who drive while intoxicated, including teenagers, repeat offenders and habitual drunk drivers.

What Are Saturation Patrols?

In general, a saturation patrol is a police tactic where a large number of officers are on patrol in a small area. Saturation patrols can be utilized for location-specific patrols.

With regard to motor vehicles, a saturation patrol is a procedure in which a number of law enforcement officers are dedicated to a limited geographic area for the purpose of detecting and apprehending drunk drivers. Officers working in a saturation patrol target impaired drivers by observing moving violations such as speeding and aggressive and/or reckless driving. Saturation patrols are legal in all 50 states. Unlike sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols do not need to be announced ahead of time in all jurisdictions, although many jurisdictions announce the patrols since they are scheduled in conjunction with a sobriety checkpoint.

What Are Saturation Patrols?According to a study published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, when measuring DUI arrests per hour, saturation patrols are seen as some of the most effective methods for apprehending drivers. They can be more effective than sobriety checkpoints since intoxicated drivers will often avoid the preannounced location of a sobriety checkpoint.

If an officer stops you during a saturation patrol, you should expect the same process if you were stopped by an officer at any time. If the officer suspects you are impaired, you will be asked to perform a standard field sobriety test and/or breathalyzer test.

There are not different penalties for being arrested and/or convicted of a DUI / DWI during the course of a saturation patrol. You can face fines, jail time, community service, loss of driving privileges and the installation of an ignition interlock, which has some similarities to a breathalyzer for your car.

For more information on saturation patrols in your area, contact your local police department.

Top 8 Ignition Interlock Device Q&A

With the resources available today, you can find out a lot of information very quickly about ignition interlock devices. Unfortunately some of what you hear and read is simply not true. Below are some very common questions and answers regarding interlock devices.

1.       Isn’t an interlock device really expensive?

The average daily cost of an ignition interlock device is less than a café grande in a coffee shop or a drink in a bar. Also, if you are unable to pay for a device, our expert agents will be able to tell you whether your state may be able to offset some of the costs through a special state fund set aside for those who need it.

2.    Do ignition interlock devices record false positives? exclusively uses devices approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which has set strict standards for accuracy in testing BAC. Before installation, your interlock device will be calibrated to meet the requirements of your individualized program and maintained throughout the probation period.

Top 8 Ignition Interlock Device Q&A3.    Will I be required to breathe into the device while driving?

You are never required to test while operating a vehicle. If the device signals you for a test it automatically allows time for you to pull off to the side and stop. These “running tests” are easy and fast to complete so you can be back on the road in just a couple of minutes.

4.    Do I have to have a device installed if I have breathing issues?

The ignition interlock device is designed to work for those that have asthma or other health conditions that prevent the ability to take deep breaths. With approval from the court and your physician, the installer can adjust the settings on your device to reduce the required breath pressure if needed. Check with your service provider first to determine if the default pressure requires adjustments.

5.    Will my vehicle’s battery be damaged by an interlock device?

Very little power from your car’s battery is used to power the device for a test. Use of an ignition interlock will not drain or damage car batteries.

6.    If I fail a test will the engine of my car stop while I’m driving down the street?

The ignition interlock device will not turn off your car while it is running. Some states require that the car produce a signal such as flashing lights or horn honking if you fail a test while the car is on and the signal will not stop until the car is off or until you pass a test.

7.    Will mouthwash or chewing gum mess with the test results?
We advise device users who use mouthwash or chew gum to rinse their mouths with water prior to testing. Users are also advised to use mouthwash that is clearly labeled as having no alcohol and rinse with water before testing to avoid any issues. Also be aware of the alcohol contents of any gum that you may chew as any trace of alcohol will cause the test to fail.

8.    Will the interlock device decrease the resale value of my truck?

Our service technicians are experts in vehicle wiring. The device will be installed professionally and when they remove it, the wiring will be restored to its former state so that the device will have no impact on your vehicle’s resale.

For additional information on ignition interlock devices, please visit us at

SR-22 and You

SR-22 is a motor vehicle insurance document required by a court and/or DMV office which shows proof of financial responsibility.  The SR-22 documentation is kept on file at the Department of Licensing, Public Safety, or Motor Vehicle, depending on the state.  The ‘SR’ in SR-22 stands for ‘Safety Responsibility’.

A court or MDV office may require a driver to obtain an SR-22 document in order to reinstate any driving privileges after a DUI.  An SR-22 document may also be required:
SR-22 and You

  • after an at-fault car accident
  • after multiple traffic violations in a short period of time
  • after driving without a license
  • after driving with a suspended license

An SR-22, which can be required for up to 5 years for a first-time DUI, is state-specific and what is required in one state may not be required in another. In some states repeat DUIs can require that the SR-22 policy be carried for life!  Also, in some states, there is a fee to file the SR-22 document.

Even if you do not own a vehicle, you can still be required to obtain a non-owner SR-22 insurance document to be eligible to drive. If you allow your SR-22 documentation to expire, your license will be suspended.

So, what’s the big deal about an SR-22 document? Well, the big deal is that if you are required to have the SR-22 document, your insurance rates typically double, triple or even quadruple for as long as you have the SR-22 in place.  This is because people who are required to have an SR-22 are generally high-risk drivers.  High-risk drivers usually need to carry high-risk insurance or ‘non-standard’ auto insurance. Many major insurance carriers only carry standard insurance policies, so once you need non-standard insurance, your current policy will be cancelled and you will need to obtain a non-standard policy with a new company.

All states in the United States have SR-22 liability insurance document requirements with the exception of Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina.

For more information on SR-22 documentation, contact your auto insurance provider.

The Ins And Outs of Field Sobriety Tests

Just about everyone is familiar with basics of field sobriety testing.  Did you know the sometimes controversial tests are actually standardized and graded?  Failing the tests can be grounds for a DUI arrest in some jurisdictions.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a battery of three tests administered and evaluated in a standardized manner to obtain accurate indicators of impairment and establish probable cause for arrest. These tests were developed as a result of research sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and conducted by the Southern California Research Institute.

A training program was developed to aid law enforcement officers to become more skillful at detecting DUI offenders, describing the behavior of the drivers, and presenting effective testimony in court. Formal administration and accreditation of the program is provided through the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  In some states only the three tests of the SFST are allowed to be admitted to evidence in a DUI / DWI trial.

The three tests of the SFST are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)
  • Walk-and-Turn (WAT)
  • One-Leg Stand (OLS)

These tests are considered divided attention tests and test a driver’s ability to perform mental and physical multitasking that is required to operate a motor vehicle. These tests are administered and evaluated according to measured responses of the driver.

HGN Test

Man Taking Sobriety TestHorizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) is an involuntary jerking of the eye that occurs naturally as the eyes gaze from side to side. When sober HGN occurs when the eyes are rotated at high peripheral angles. However, when a person is impaired by alcohol, HGN is exaggerated. An alcohol-impaired person might also have difficulty smoothly tracking a moving object. In the HGN test, the officer observes the eyes of a person as he or she follows a slowly moving object such as a pen, horizontally with his or her eyes. The officer looks for three signs of impairment in each eye:

  1.  if the eye cannot follow a moving object smoothly,
  2. if jerking is distinct when the eye is at maximum deviation, and
  3. if the angle of onset of jerking is within 45 degrees of center.

If, between the two eyes, four or more clues appear, the suspect likely has a BAC of 0.08 or greater. NHTSA research has found this test allows proper classification of approximately 88 percent of testers.

Walk and Turn

The Walk-and-Turn test and One-Leg Stand test require a person to listen and follow instructions while performing simple physical movements. Intoxicated people have difficulty with tasks requiring their attention to be divided between mental and physical exercises.

In the Walk-and-Turn test, the tester is directed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the suspect must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction. The officer then looks for the below eight signs of intoxication.

  1. Cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions
  2. Begins before the instructions are finished
  3. Stops while walking to regain balance
  4. Does not touch heel-to-toe
  5. Steps off the line
  6. Uses arms to balance
  7. Makes an improper turn
  8. Takes an incorrect number of steps

NHTSA research shows 79 percent of people who exhibit two or more indicators during the test will have a BAC of 0.08 or greater.

One Leg Stand

In the One-Leg Stand test, the suspect is instructed to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands until told to put the foot down. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds. The officer is looking for the below four signs of impairment:

  1. swaying while balancing
  2. using arms to balance
  3. hopping to maintain balance
  4. putting the foot down

NHTSA research shows 83 percent of people who exhibit two or more signs during the test will have a BAC of 0.08 of greater.

Combined Measures

When the component tests of the SFST battery are combined, officers are accurate in an astonishing 91 percent of cases!

For more information about field sobriety tests, contact an attorney in your state.

Call Now Button