Weird DUI: What NOT to Steal when Drinking and Driving

DUI stealingAggravating circumstances are what cause stricter penalties for a crime. For instance, in many states, when you are caught shoplifting items over a certain value, you could face a felony charge, even if it is your first offense. An innocent bar brawl that causes serious injury or death is another example. The same goes for drinking and driving. A first-offense DUI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is well above the legal limit of .08 percent could result in a felony charge. High BAC is an aggravating circumstance for a DUI. So is any other crime that occurs during the course of your DUI. Like stealing a police car.

If you’re already in trouble for drinking and driving, please keep the other crimes to a minimum.

When you are out drinking and driving, you are a big enough risk to everyone else on the roads. You could hurt yourself or any passengers. Compounding that with additional crimes will only increase what you face in court. Besides, nobody has ever written a story about the DUI driver who stole a car in a panic and drove him or herself to freedom. It just does not work like that.

All states have aggravating and mitigating circumstances that can increase or decrease penalties for DUI, respectively. Obvious crimes, like child endangerment, high BAC, or injury to others during the DUI will result in longer ignition interlock requirements, possible jail time, and additional non-DUI charges at times. Mitigating circumstances (like your BAC wasn’t quite at the legal limit, but you were still charged) could help reduce your penalties. Stealing a police car will not help your case, but it will definitely invoke the ire and frustration of your local law enforcement, as well as the judges you face throughout your court requirement.

Tattletale DUI: Should You Call the Cops on Yourself?

Tattletale DUIYou are driving down the road, minding your own business, blasting Whitesnake or some smooth jazz and bopping along, and suddenly you realize… you’re drunk. You are not only drunk, but you are drunk and driving. You are a criminal, and you are dangerous. What do you do? Do you become one of those tattletale DUI stories? Would that help your case if you have to go to court?

First, the moment you call police and tattletale DUI yourself, you will have to go to court. Courtrooms rely on facts, not self-serving behaviors during the illegal act being defended.

Second, if you are reading this while you are drinking and driving, there’s an even bigger problem to address.

Whether or not you intended to drink and drive, you are now faced with being a danger on the roads – to others and to yourself. If those blurred lines no longer make sense, or that stoplight seemed to be a lot greener than its actual red, you need to pull over. If you feel like you are a danger on the roads, you probably have already alerted some other driver on the road who has called 911 to report your erratic or dangerous driving. Despite that, you can definitely call and be that tattletale DUI we occasionally read about. You are doing us all a favor.

If you do make that call, remember that the facts of your case will determine the consequences you face. There are no mitigating circumstances in any state for being a tattletale DUI, and you will still have the same court costs and fines, community service, ignition interlock requirement, and more (depending on your circumstances) even if you rat yourself out.

Before you get into a situation where you are in the middle of a self-proclaimed DUI, remember that all you have to do to steer clear of trouble is to have a plan for a safe ride home.

First-Time Wisconsin OWI Offenders Catch a Break With TAD Program

As you read this, someone somewhere is getting behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving while intoxicated is a problem in the United States. That’s why the punishments are swift and harsh if you get caught. You aren’t only endangering yourself, but everyone else on the road and the consequences can be dire. However, many states do understand that sometimes you just make a mistake. You think you’re fine to drive, get behind the wheel, and drive home, only to realizing too late that you are little more under the influence than you thought you were. When you see those blue lights show up in your rearview, you think your life as you know it is over , but there is hope yet.

If you are caught and convicted of drinking and driving in Wisconsin, you may get a second chance.

In the state of Wisconsin non-violent OWI offenders may qualify for their Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) Program if they have no active warrants or pending charges and are a first-time offender. This option is provided to help offenders avoid jail time and work toward getting their Wisconsin OWI conviction dismissed. However, this program is no walk in the park. You must meet every requirement and complete it satisfactorily to receive its benefits.

TAD is a 12-24 month diversion program that is designed for individuals who’ve committed non-violent offenses that had substance abuse as a contributing factor. This program allows for a diversion of the criminal charges while offenders are receiving treatment and services. Requirements of the program can include community service, alcohol awareness and treatment programs, drug and alcohol testing, case management, and the possible use of an ignition interlock device. It also requires a Cognitive Based Thinking Program (CBTP) which has been proven to reduce recidivism.

For Wisconsin OWI offenders, the TAD Program offers them a second chance for a clean record along with education and treatment that will help prevent future offenses. No one wants to be convicted of a Wisconsin OWI, but if the worst happens, know your options to try and mitigate the consequences and remember to never drink and drive again in the future.

No Diversion for First-Time Virginia DUI Offenders

VASAP no Virginia DUI diversionVirginia is one of the toughest states on DUIs. It doesn’t have a pre-trial diversion program that applies to DUI convictions. However, once convicted, you are court ordered to attend VASAP (Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program). Some people believe that VASAP is just a ten-week alcohol education course, but that is only one aspect of ASAP probation. Other measures may be ordered by the court, including supervision monitoring, ignition interlock monitoring, substance abuse treatment, and anything else the court deems necessary to your rehabilitation.

VASAP is a condition of almost every DUI conviction in Virginia. There have been a few exceptions but rarely for a first-time offender. The purpose of this program is to not only provide education but also treatment for any underlying issues in the hopes that this will discourage any future offenses.

If your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is not elevated, you will most likely be put on the educational VASAP course track. This track is mostly just a series of classes without any excess monitoring or treatment programs. However, if you’re a repeat offender of your BAC is elevated as a first-time offender you will most likely have many more impositions in your life.

Another action you can take in Virginia to help yourself in the wake of a DUI conviction is to attend a voluntary driver improvement course. If you participate in a Virginia DMV-approved driver improvement program, then five points will be restored to your driving record. This helps to mitigate the six points that a DUI conviction puts on your license.

Obviously, your best course of action is to never get behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated. DUI convictions are no laughing matter, and the state of Virginia will make sure you understand the seriousness of your crime. There’s no leniency for a first-time offender, they will impress upon you what the consequences will be for any future bad behavior and encourage you to avoid these situations in the future.

Mistakes Happen. The Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Program Can Help

Iowa OWI diversion programDUI/OWI are serious offenses with serious consequences. However, sometimes you think you’re okay to drive when you’re really had too much. Many states make allowances for a one-time mistake in the form of diversion or deferred judgment programs, giving you a second chance with a clean record or a reduced sentence on your record.

The entire state participates in the Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Program. If you are a first time OWI offender in Iowa, you may be eligible if you willingly submitted to the chemical test at the time of your arrest, your blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.15%, you didn’t cause any type of bodily injury to another person as a result of your OWI, and you don’t have any other deferred judgements, including those in another state. You also have to be willing to plead guilty to your charges and meet the conditions that the court will impose within the specified time frame.

Most Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Programs last for one year. During that year, offenders must meet specified requirements, such as:

  • Mandatory attendance of an alcohol education class
  • Payment of court costs and evaluation fees, including paying for the alcohol education class
  • Visitation with a probation officer
  • Your drivers will be suspended for a certain period of time but you may apply for a temporary restricted license which will likely require an ignition interlock device

If you meet all of these requirements during your Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Program probationary period, you will not spend any more time in jail and will not have a conviction. A first time offender who does not participate in this program will serve at least 48 hours in jail and will pay a fine of at least $625, and they also will have a conviction on their record permanently. Through the deferred judgment program, your conviction is not entered and then can be expunged if you meet all the program requirements and paid all fees that you owed. This erases it completely from court files and public record, making it like it never happened.

Your Bartender May Save You From a California DUI

California DUI prevention bartenderAfter a few drinks, it gets a lot easier to convince ourselves that we are okay to drive. After a few drinks, however, it is never okay to drive. It is, however, embarrassing for some to wait out an Uber, taxi, or friend for a ride home. A new California DUI law has made that decision and process easier because now you can ask your bartender or server for a ride home if you have been drinking… and they can provide it.

Technically, the California DUI law says vouchers can be handed out for free rides home to intoxicated patrons.

That means that when it comes time to head home after happy hour, you may be able to score a free ride from your bartender. Your server may be able to swing the same deal. You may never have to worry about those moments of indecision, and you shouldn’t.

California DUI law has other big changes on the horizon.

In 2019, anyone with a first-offense DUI will have an ignition interlock requirement. The law changed in 2017 and will be fully implemented next year. The success in reducing subsequent drunk driving offenses in the original, four-county all-offender ignition interlock pilot program, was a launching point for this new law. Between these new consequences for driving drunk, and the even easier ways the state allows an impaired driver to find a safe ride home, we expect California DUI numbers to drop significantly, and for good.

It is never okay to drive after drinking, and with states like California showing the rest of the country how easy it is to provide safer solutions, that message is being understood, loudly and clearly. The choice to drink and drive is still a choice, but one that is made much easier when we make it a lot easier to opt for a safe way home than face the frustration of a California DUI.

Guess How to Get a Washington Ignition Interlock Violation

Washington State Ignition Interlock Tampering ViolationsWhen you have a DUI or drunk driving conviction in Washington State, you also have an ignition interlock requirement. You’re pretty lucky, as there are states in which you face different restrictions, including a suspended license and no ability to drive yourself around. Still, ignition interlock devices are seen as an inconvenience, something to just deal with, not a quick solution to maintaining life as it was before a DUI.

That’s probably how this guy forgot he was tampering with his Washington State ignition interlock device.

In case anyone else experiences this same memory loss, perhaps it is best to remind the public that tampering with an ignition interlock device is a crime. Crimes carry criminal penalties. In this case, the Washington state ignition interlock tampering will result in a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. Your one-year ignition interlock requirement will no longer count toward the penalties placed upon you when convicted of your DUI. You will not be able to drive, even with the ignition interlock device, until your full driver’s license suspension is up.

You could also have more penalties, like another DUI charge, depending on the circumstances surrounding the ignition interlock tampering. Washington state requires ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving convictions. If that is not enough to get you to call for a safe ride home, think of the potential you have to destroy the lives of others… all because you refused to admit you were not okay to drive.

Frankly stated, when you have an ignition interlock requirement, the easiest way to get your life back is to just use the device as instructed, for as long as you are required to do so. Once you have completed the time, you can then look forward to completely restoring your freedom and independence, with a much better understanding of the reasons we do not drive under the influence of alcohol.

Oklahoma DUI Diversion: Addressing Dependence not Detention

Oklahoma DUI diversionPretrial diversion programs exist to help offenders receive treatment for the problem that caused the crime instead of just receiving punishment for committing the crime itself. Often, putting first-time, non-violent offenders into the prison system just compounds the problem and helps to create habitual offenders instead of discouraging future offenses. Pretrial diversion programs offer an effective and less costly way to handle these types of offenses and are proven to reduce recidivism.

Oklahoma’s DUI Diversion program is a pretrial diversion program for first-time felony offense DUIs. The state created this program to keep first-time offenders out of jail and help them get the treatment that they need. If you are eligible for Oklahoma’s DUI Diversion program you will be required to attend drug and alcohol counseling classes at your own expense rather than go to jail along with any other requirements that are applied to you, including an ignition interlock requirement. If you complete the program you will not be convicted of a DUI.

Not all DUI offenders are eligible for Oklahoma’s DUI Diversion program. You won’t be eligible if:

  • You have a violent crime conviction.
  • You have been in a drug court program in the last five years.
  • You have prior felony charges or convictions.

The information about the Oklahoma DUI diversion program varies from county to county. Your best bet is to contact your county diversion office or an attorney for the most accurate and current information about the necessary steps to participate in the program and if you qualify. A DUI doesn’t have to be a blot on your record forever, you can make restitution and receive treatment and gain a second chance through a diversion program.

There have been very successful diversion programs instituted across the nation that have statistically proven the truth of their effectiveness. Not all states have them, and within each state not all counties or districts have them. There are detractors who consider them ineffective or even unconstitutional. However, the rising popularity and quantitative proof of their usefulness has quieted many naysayers.

Do You Qualify for the Nebraska DUI Diversion Program?

Nebraska DUI DiversionDUI diversion or deferment programs exist to give those who are least likely to be repeat offenders a second chance to be law-abiding citizens without a criminal record following them. Nebraska DUI convictions can have lifelong consequences that affect everything from your rights to your employment. Qualifying for a Nebraska DUI diversion program can benefit an offender in both short- and long-term ways.

As with most states, only certain counties participate in the Nebraska DUI diversion program, and there are strict requirements to qualify and to have your participation considered finished. To qualify, you may need to meet some or all of the following requirements:

  • Current DUI offense must be a misdemeanor or less serious felony
  • Any victim must consent to your participation in the Nebraska DUI diversion program.
  • You cannot have participated in a diversion program in the past
  • Clean criminal history
  • Eligibility for an ignition interlock device.

Nebraska’s DWI diversion program is 18 months long but you only remain active in the program for 6 months. During these six months, you are expected to complete a program of action that is determined by a screening process for substance abuse. The goal is to try to help you with any substance abuse issues you may have.

Other requirements that may have to be completed are community service at an approved non-profit agency, education classes, restitution, other fees, and monthly contact with your diversion case manager among others. The ignition interlock requirement is part of the diversion program if you are allowed to reinstate your license.

After completing all the requirements in the first six months, you must remain enrolled in the program for an additional 12 months. During these 12 months, if you commit another alcohol-related offense, the courts will file on both the new arrest and your original DWI. If you successfully make it to the end of the 18-month time period, your DWI charge will be dismissed and no conviction will appear on your record.

Winter Troubles With Your Interlock? That Blows!

winter trouble ignition interlockIt is SO cold outside, with polar vortexes and hurricane blizzards. Much of the nation is under the thumb of a seemingly angry Jack Frost, affecting a lot of our normal habits – like breathing. Cold air constricts our airways, and it is dry, challenging our reasons for even leaving the house. When you have an ignition interlock device, the winter season can add time and frustration to your normal routine. Blowing into the interlock can be especially challenging, for a couple of reasons.

Ignition interlock devices are sensitive to the strength of the air you blow, as well as the temperature outside.

Constricted lungs due to cold air, or because you’ve caught a cold or the flu, can reduce how strongly you can blow into your interlock. If you are unable to create the right amount of pressure, your device will prompt you to keep submitting a breath sample until it can accurately measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Unfortunately, you will not be able to start your vehicle until you can blow a clean breath sample, which could mean you are sitting in a cold vehicle for some time.

Your cold vehicle can also affect more than you blowing into your interlock. Cold temperatures can cause an ignition interlock to take additional time to warm up, and you will have to sit and wait for the device to do just that. If your vehicle’s battery is too weak to stand up to the cold temperatures, you may have additional concerns about violations that appear to show you “tampering” with the device (like you had disconnected the battery).

In any case, and no matter why you are having trouble blowing into your interlock, do not take matters into your own hands. Contact your ignition interlock service provider for assistance, and allow yourself the time to cool off, or warm up, so that you can get back on the road as soon as possible.