You Have a Full Week of DUI Decisions

DUI decisionsHappy Tuesday, how is your hangover?

This kind of week only happens every few years, where there is no pause between the Christmas and New Year holidays, just a few weekdays that nobody is taking seriously. There is a sense of intoxicating freedom in the air this week, or maybe that is the intoxication of alcohol. After all, with only a few days until Friday, when we start the New Year’s celebrations early, there’s no real reason to stay sober, right? DUI decisions can make or break the rest of your life. Literally. There is no “hair of the dog” that can fix a hangover built on regret.

When we take advantage of the time off during the holiday season, a lot of us will continue drinking like there is no work tomorrow. Whether or not you need to clock in, you may want to remember that drinking and driving is still a crime, and still deadly, even during the holiday break. This complicates the week of fun you had planned because each day is just one more of those DUI decisions you have to make.

Remember that even if you drink and get a few hours of sleep, you could still be intoxicated from the night before. Morning-after DUIs are still a thing to be aware of, especially if you tied one on the night before and lived to battle your morning commute.

When you have a week of DUI decisions to make, that is a nice handful of days to make the right decision. When you don’t drink and drive, you don’t have to worry about court costs and ignition interlock devices. There’s no panic over the past and how you could have done things differently. Choosing not to drink and drive means you made the right decision, one that saved lives in the process.

Celebrating Sober Driving with Holiday Glee

sober driving through the holiday seasonEither you love the holidays, or you cannot stand the holidays. Either way, they are almost over, and you have a lot to be proud of like you have not had any problems with a DUI so far! Right? Mistakes happen, and they happen a lot more frequently during high-stress times, like in December when we are so busy doing for others that we forget our normal safety routine when drinking.

Instead of beating yourself up later, let’s try a few of these:

  • This year, let us all be present for Christmas, and make sure nobody is driving home if they have had any drinks. Today is a gift, and so is sober driving.
  • Let us try to plan our parties and gatherings with an understanding that not everyone will be able to drive home safely, so we must make those calls ourselves. The holiday spirit can take away keys just as easily as it hands out drinks. It is called balance.
  • We can use our collective holiday cheer to raise money for DUI prevention programs, like MADD.
  • We can simply pledge to drive sober this holiday season, and mean it all year long.

We are not trying to take the fun out of the holiday season, but we know enough about DUIs, drunk driving, ignition interlock devices, and the devastation of impaired driving to remind you of what you stand to lose when you drink and drive.

Happy holidays to everyone, and may the coming year be one filled with fun, friendship, and more rolling good times than rolling retests!

From our ignition interlock elves to your family, we wish everyone the happiest of holidays, the seasoniest of seasons, the wonders of winter, and the security of safe roads. Enjoy these good times and keep fighting the sober driving fight.

DUI Danger: What Does a 155 MPH Drunk Driver Look Like?

dui danger speedingWhen it comes to drunk driving, we’ve seen it all. It is safe to say that the easiest way to find and arrest a drunk driver is by observing the driving abilities of others on the road. Drunk drivers may run stop signs or stop lights, run over curbs, or dangerously drive the wrong way down a one-way street. Perhaps the biggest indicator of a drunk driver is someone who is driving much too slowly, or, someone who is well over the speed limit and a clear DUI danger on the roads.

Speeding is a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes. Alcohol-related driving fatalities are recorded at a similar rate.

Drinking and driving is a problem across the country, and all states are doing their part to crack down on DUI danger each day. That means stricter laws, ignition interlock requirements, alcohol treatment programs and more. However, all of those efforts cannot prevent a person from driving under the influence and putting others in danger on the road. In one case, a driver claimed to not have even noticed the flashing blue lights as he cruised down the road at 155 MPH. Imagine what other tiny details he might not have been aware of as he sped his way toward certain death.

Speeding, reckless driving, and other traffic violations are often the probable cause needed for law enforcement to pull over a suspect for further investigation. From there, the DUI danger is quickly ascertained, and steps are taken to remove the driver from the roads. Unfortunately, not all DUI drivers are caught before their actions cause harm to others, including death, injury or property damage. A DUI is a problem, no matter what the speedometer registers, and we can all do our part to make the streets safer by simply having a plan for a sober ride when we are drinking.

Weird DUI: Food Excuses that Don’t Work

weird dui food excusesPeople do all sorts of interesting things to catch a little beer buzz, many of which are harmless and cannot do a thing to increase blood alcohol concentration (BAC). BAC is the measure of how intoxicated a person is and is often used by law enforcement as grounds to arrest a driver for DUI, DWI, or OWI. There is a logical connection between the terms “alcohol” and “BAC” but there is also a lot more to the kind of alcohol we consume, how it is consumed, and how that ends up impairing our driving than simple wordplay.

For instance, a weird DUI myth is that foods cooked with alcohol can actually cause impairment or drunkenness.

In most cases, the alcohol in beer-battered chicken or fish is minimal and is burned off in the frying process (high heat kills the intoxicants in alcohol), leaving just the flavor. The same can be said for foods that have liquor or wine enhanced sauces, like chicken marsala. A good rule of thumb is that foods cooked with alcohol are not intoxicating, just really yummy.

As with everything, there are always exceptions to the alcohol-in-food rule.

The heat in coffee does not kill the alcohol in an Irish coffee. The rum in rum balls or the marsala in tiramisu won’t pass the breathalyzer or ignition interlock test. Drunk driving is drunk driving, and you may not only end up with a hangover the next morning but a weird DUI story, too.

Either way that you look at it, using food as an excuse for your drunk driving is… well, inexcusable. Either you are trying to get out of a DUI by blaming the dinner you just ate, or you are actually impaired from your food choices. If you have been drinking or eating alcohol, your only way to steer clear of a DUI is to find a safe ride home.

Another Year Older, Another DUI Excuse

another DUI excuseYou can use many excuses as a reason to drink, and most people do. But since the all-important 21st birthday, there has never been an excuse used more often than, “It’s my birthday!” Of course we want to celebrate our birthdays and other important holidays, but each year we grow older and wiser, and that means taking responsibility for our impaired choices.

All year long we find reasons to drink. From the explosive and often drunken start of the New Year to the often volatile and drunken end of the year, Christmas, we find many reasons to imbibe. Celebrations of anniversaries and weddings are all events that feature alcohol. Painting and yoga classes offer alcohol these days. The prevalence of alcohol in all aspects of our lives is still not a DUI excuse. The worst thing you can do after one of these admittedly fun events is getting behind the wheel of a car.

If you get pulled over on your way home or to the next gathering, the worst thing you can do is try to excuse your actions. “I only had a few during the reception” is not an acceptable DUI excuse. Designated drivers are not just for a night spent bar hopping, they are important for any event where alcohol will be present. This includes most sporting events, where “my team lost” is a common DUI excuse that does not excuse any dangerous driving on your part.

No matter if you are attending a professional sporting event or your cousin’s bat mitzvah, if there is going to be alcohol present make sure you have a designated driver or the number to a local cab company to get you home. Imagine yourself trying to explain why you were driving under the influence to your family, friends, or to a courtroom judge, and then make the right decision to avoid that inexcusable behavior. There are no acceptable DUI excuses, just more people living their lives with regret, an ignition interlock device, and a commitment to only driving while sober in the future.

Weird DUI: Diabetes and Blood Sugar

weird dui diabetes and blood sugarThere are legitimate health concerns that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. In some cases, those health issues may also test the validity of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test, whether a police breathalyzer or an ignition interlock device. A weird DUI myth about blood sugar may actually have some legs, particularly when it comes to the dangers of driving. However, blood sugar, hypoglycemia, or diabetes is still not an excuse for drinking and driving.

There is a weird DUI connection to blood sugar and BAC testing, both biologically and behaviorally.

Anyone who has hypoglycemia or low blood sugar understands the sluggish feeling and foggy head when sugar levels drop. Some people get headaches or cranky, others may pass out. All of that, when driving, can make it difficult to operate the vehicle safely. On top of that, it has been shown that hypoglycemic people produce more acetone, which can register on a BAC test (breathalyzer or interlock).

None of that means that a person with diabetes or hypoglycemia can be excused from a DUI or drunk driving charge. It is actually difficult, if not impossible, to use diabetes or blood sugar issues as an excuse for drinking and driving. No matter what, a drunk driving charge is based upon the presence of alcohol in the system. Even if the BAC reading is below the legal .08 percent limit, a person who is driving dangerously can still be charged with a DUI. If that danger is due to blood sugar problems, the consensus is that the driver already knew they had physical problems that could impair their driving. Then they chose to drink. That is not a weird DUI, that is just asking for trouble.

The risks of impaired driving, whether by BAC, bad health or just a bad mood are obvious. Taking care of your health means eating right, limiting alcohol, and never getting behind the wheel if you go over the limit.

Weird DUI: Toothpaste and Your BAC

weird DUI toothpaste mythWhen we get ready for a fun night with friends, we usually have a checklist of things to do before we leave the house. Not often enough does that checklist include a designated driver or a plan for a safe ride home if we are drinking. However, we usually do make sure we look and smell our best, including our teeth. This may get a little fresh, but we are here to expose another weird DUI myth: toothpaste and a positive breathalyzer test.

Much like the intoxicated milk theory, this blood alcohol concentration (BAC) myth is filled with assumptions and just plain bad information. Toothpaste will not be a factor in any drunk driving arrest or conviction. The weird DUI truth is that while there is sorbitol, or sugar alcohol, in many brands of toothpaste… sugar alcohol is not the substance that breathalyzers (or ignition interlock devices) detect. The stunner in this is that sugar alcohol is not even alcohol.

On top of that, even if sugar alcohol was detectable by a breathalyzer or ignition interlock device, you would have to have a lot of toothpaste in your mouth to register a BAC high enough to be illegal… or concerning. Intoxicated people drink a lot of alcohol, they do not binge brush their teeth. True story.

Would your dentist approve of your weird DUI?

Toothpaste has two things in common with some mouthwashes, or those products that actually have a shot at a false BAC reading: mint flavor and oral hygiene. Mint will not set off a breathalyzer, however. The alcohol in some mouthwashes will. That is why one of the big tips for those with an ignition interlock device is to make sure they swish out any mouthwash before submitting a breath sample. The trace amount of alcohol left behind by mouthwash can trigger a false positive reading on an interlock, but that is also at a much lower level than the legal limit for a DUI.

Refusing the Facts? Virginia Implied Consent Penalties

virginia implied consentEach day law enforcement officers are confronted by, or must confront, drunk drivers. That danger is just one more reason states have strengthened their DUI and implied consent laws, to protect everyone on the roads, including our police officers. Virginia implied consent laws help keep everyone safe by quickly establishing whether a driver is intoxicated, and steps should be taken next.

Spoiler alert: violating Virginia implied consent laws will increase the penalties you face in court and with the DMV.

The first time you refuse BAC testing, if you are under arrest you will have Virginia implied consent violations added to your charges. If found guilty, you will have a one-year driver’s license suspension. However, that suspension is not a criminal charge.

If you refuse another BAC test during a different DUI investigation, the consequences for violating Virginia implied consent laws increase. Not only will you have a three-year license suspension, but you will then face a misdemeanor charge for the implied consent violation in court.

Refusing a BAC test before an arrest is not a violation of Virginia implied consent laws. But, your refusal could be considered enough probable cause to arrest you under suspicion of a DUI, after which you will still be required to submit a BAC sample (breath, blood or urine) at the roadside, or if you are taken to a police station, BAC testing will happen there. For many, this means their idea of waiting out a BAC test, hoping the can sober up, just will not work out how they intend.

Also, there are administrative penalties for refusing BAC testing that kick in immediately. Virginia is an all-offender ignition interlock Commonwealth (state), which means that on top of any implied consent violations and DUI penalties, you will likely end up with an ignition interlock device if you wish to reinstate your license.

Weird DUI: Yep, Even on a Unicycle

weird dui unicycleThere are so many car-less ways we can use to get around town. Some people choose to walk from one place to another. Others use non-motorized vehicles like bicycles, skateboards, or scooters. Once in a while we are treated to the visual of a neighbor running the roads (well, sidewalks) on a unicycle. As crazy as that may be, there are still weird DUI cautions for these seemingly safe vehicles, like do not drink and try to “drive.” You are not a whole lot safer without a motor, nor are you any more able to operate those vehicles safely than if your vehicle has a motor. Plus, you can still be charged with a DUI… even if your vehicle is a unicycle.

In Colorado and several other states, there are laws that specifically criminalize drinking and riding a bicycle. Given the large communities of bicyclists in that state, the danger is apparent: intoxicated bicyclists are not exactly models of safety. The same sort of prohibition is extended to other non-motorized vehicles, like skateboards, unicycles, or roller skates. If you consider the difficulty an intoxicated person can have while walking, adding wheels to the mix is just asking for trouble. Weird DUI trouble.

No really, there are weird DUI stories, and then there are dangerous DUI realities.

Probably the biggest danger with a unicycle, bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle driven under the influence is to the driver. Much like the biggest risk to an intoxicated pedestrian is the actual walking (whether tripping or jaywalking) and bad decision-making at a crosswalk. As such, the law in many states can be interpreted in such a way that a “driver” of a unicycle who is found to be legally intoxicated could be charged with a DUI or other drunk driving charge. Furthermore, in states where ignition interlock devices are required for all DUI convictions, an intoxicated driver could end up with an interlock requirement on their motorized car, truck, or SUV, even if that vehicle was not part of the problem to begin with.

Oklahoma Implied Consent and Your New Ignition Interlock Device

oklahoma implied consentIn the past few years Oklahoma has been cracking down on drunk drivers with more restrictive laws than ever. The state recently passed an all-offender ignition interlock policy for drunk drivers that includes even those offenders that are just over the .08 limit for intoxication. For a DUI suspect to even know what their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is, they have to provide a breath sample to law enforcement. That’s where things get tricky, because if a suspect refuses the test, they are in violation of the Oklahoma implied consent laws. With that violation, the suspect will experience those tough DUI laws first-hand.

Oklahoma implied consent laws are policies that you agreed to follow when you applied for your license. When you signed the document, you also gave your consent for your BAC to be tested if a police officer believes you are intoxicated behind the wheel. If you refuse the test, your license is immediately revoked for at least six months. After that you will only be able to drive if you have an ignition interlock device.

If you willingly submit a BAC sample and you are over the limit, your license is immediately suspended and you will have the same ignition interlock requirement. Oklahoma implied consent laws do not offer a choice, but they do offer others on the road the assurance that a drunk driver will be dealt with quickly.

Oklahoma is sending a message to anyone who feels they are “okay to drive,” that there is nothing okay about driving under the influence of alcohol. No refusals of BAC testing will be tolerated. Instead, any suspect or convicted offender can pretty much count on encountering fines, possible jail time, an ignition interlock requirement, and a first-hand understanding of the benefits of staying sober behind the wheel.