Size Matters: Tiny Bottles, Big BAC

tiny bottles big BACRecently, a woman in New York thought she had a pretty good idea for hiding the fact that she was driving while intoxicated. Most of the time, these ideas only seem great to the person who has already been drinking. In this case, the woman had likely been drinking tiny bottles of booze, prompting her prohibition improv act of hiding those bottles in her bra. Needless to say, she’s probably had better ideas, at least when she was sober. Upon her arrest, her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was reported at .34 percent, over four times the legal limit for DWI in New York.

At .34 percent BAC, a person could potentially be admitted to the ER for alcohol poisoning.

A few thoughts on BAC and the size of your drink:

  • No matter the size of the bottle, the cup, stein or glass, BAC will increase with every standard size drink.
  • Even the magic formula for staying sober (one standard drink per hour) may not be enough to keep someone from reaching the legal intoxication limit.
  • A person doesn’t even have to reach that legal BAC limit to be found guilty of a DWI or drunk driving crime.

In this case, those tiny bottles still produced a big BAC, and the woman was clearly too drunk to drive.

Obviously, if you have to hide bottles of alcohol in your undergarments, you may need to rethink your choice to drive. Across the U.S., the legal BAC limit for drunk driving is .08 percent, making it an easy road to a conviction with just a few drinks or tiny bottles of liquor. In New York, the stakes are pretty high, especially with all-offender ignition interlock policies and little tolerance for any drunk driving on the roads. Those tiny bottles can quickly add up and with plenty of lifelong consequences beyond embarrassing headlines.

New York’s Mandatory Ignition Interlock Requirement

New York’s mandatory ignition interlock requirement New York is one of the toughest states in the country when it comes to drunk driving. For example, Leandra’s Law was enacted after an eleven-year-old girl died in a car crash because her adult driver had been drinking beforehand. Leandra’s law says that driving with any person 15 or younger, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08, is a felony DWI. Violating that law brings harsh penalties that are above the already strict, mandatory ignition interlock requirement for all offenders.

New York’s mandatory ignition interlock requirement has been an example for the entire U.S.

All DWI traffic violations are prosecuted as serious criminal offenses in New York. Depending on the number of offenses and the circumstances that occurred during the incidents, the courts may fine, imprison or sentence the violator to probation. Their license will also be suspended and in order to drive legally, the offender will have an ignition interlock device installed in their car. The mandatory ignition interlock requirement helps prevents the driver from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. This also implies they may not operate any vehicle under their restricted license legally and be required to abide by court laws. The first violation is considered a misdemeanor, but can result in removal from the program.

Since Leandra’s Law was enacted in New York, many states have enacted similar child endangerment and mandatory ignition interlock laws. A child has little to no say about the person driving them around, much less how much they’ve had to drink, so a drunk driving charge that involves children is seen as a more serious one. In that sense, more states are looking to the state of New York for an example of how to treat drunk drivers fairly, while ensuring that no other little lives are lost at the hand of a drunk driver.

Refusing a BAC Test in New Mexico Means an Aggravated DWI.

New Mexico aggravated DWIAcross the country it is a crime to drink and drive. All 50 states define the legal limit for intoxication at the same .08 percent BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level. Beyond that limit most of the nation’s DWI laws become less similar, reflecting more the viewpoint of each individual state. In New Mexico, for example, implied consent violations actually trigger more consequences both in and out of court. Legally, that means if you refuse a BAC test at the time of your arrest, you’ll be charged with an aggravated DWI.

Aggravated DWI in New Mexico means more than a mandatory ignition interlock restriction.

New Mexico requires ignition interlock devices for all DWI convictions, so an aggravated DWI will just extend your time requirement with the device. On top of that, with an aggravated DWI conviction an offender will also face:

  • Up to 90 days in prison.
  • Up to $500 in fines.
  • Probation (after release from prison) for up to a year.
  • At least 24 hours of community service.
  • Complete an alcohol screening.
  • Attend DWI school.

If you refuse the BAC test, you also have administrative restrictions on your license. The police officer will immediately suspend your license through the DMV. If you don’t contest the suspension, you will have a 21-month license suspension that is separate from whatever criminal consequences are ahead of you.

Obviously, the solution here is to not drive while intoxicated in New Mexico to skip the criminal aggravated DWI consequences and those from the DMV. New Mexico is known for its tough stance on drunk driving, and many other states are following its lead, including adopting all-offender ignition interlock laws and administrative penalties for refusing BAC testing. While restrictive, there are good reasons for such laws, especially when those restrictions are proven to save lives each day in New Mexico and across the U.S.

New York Conditional License Program

New York conditional licenseA New York conditional license can be issued to drivers who have had their license suspended or revoked due to a DWI or DUID violation. This is an administrative action, separate from a criminal conviction in the state, and subject to change if there is a DUI conviction. After a person is arrested and charged with a DWI, he or she has have to apply for the conditional license and attend an IDP (Impaired Driver Program), once the license is approved.

The New York Conditional license is a restricted license that allows you to take care of personal commitments.

If you qualify for the license, you will only be able to drive under certain circumstances. For example, a New York conditional license will allow alleged offenders the freedom to drive:

  • To and from their place of employment.
  • Their child to school or daycare if necessary to maintain employment or for their own enrollment in school, college or any state approved training programs.
  • If their job requires it, except for commercial driver’s license (CDL) drivers.
  • To any classes authorized by the IDP are also.
  • To any medical or clinical appointments.
  • To the DMV office if summoned to conduct any business related to their license or the program.

Your conditional license will be revoked if you are caught drinking and driving again, or any other moving violation (no seat belts, reckless driving, etc.).

When you have a conditional license in New York, if you are convicted of a DWI, you will still have an ignition interlock requirement. New York has an all-offender interlock requirement that has set the bar high for other states to follow, while keeping its streets safe from drunk drivers. Until you are ordered to install the device, however, the conditional license allows you the ability to legally drive. That keeps you moving in the right direction while you prepare for your day in DWI court.

NY IDP: New York Impaired Driver Program

IDP program in New YorkDrinking and driving is a big mistake in New York, and most people learn that lesson the hard way. A DWI conviction is just the beginning, especially when you consider the court costs and fines and the mandatory ignition interlock requirement for a criminal conviction. Then there is the New York Impaired Driver Program (IDP), the go-to solution for any drunk or otherwise impaired driver to learn how to make better choices before having a full go-ahead to get back on the roads and legally drive.

Unlike incarceration, New York’s IDP program encourages responsibility and thoughtful choices.

Much like an ignition interlock becomes a guide for more responsible choices when driving, New York’s IDP gives a DWI offender the education and tools for making better decisions. That means a person is more likely to not drink while driving, or that they will arrange a taxi or designated driver before leaving for a night with friends. The program also provides information on how prescription drugs can impair driving, either alone or when mixed with alcohol. Plus, people can be given extra help when substance abuse is already occurring or is a risk factor in the future.

IDP was recently renamed to reflect drugs as well as alcohol.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance that can impair a person’s driving, and more states are addressing both types of intoxication behind the wheel. Even a prescription medication can have an effect on safety when driving, not to mention illegal drugs or alcohol-drug combinations. Once an offender is ordered into the program, they have little choice but to see the role that alcohol or drugs has played in their DWI and other areas of life. From there, most offenders move beyond their DWI and ignition interlock requirement, back into a more responsible lifestyle that benefits us all.

With the New York IDP and similar programs in states like West Virginia and Mississippi, the full support of a DWI offender can make big changes in their life, and in communities across the U.S.

New York BWI and DWI Courtroom Connection

New York BWI and DWI in CourtIf you think New York is doing everything possible to make sure you don’t drive if you’re intoxicated, you’re right. There are literally thousands of reasons why the state is so determined to keep you sober behind the wheel. People die each day on the roads and even on the state’s waterways due to a person’s choice to drink and drive.  Why wouldn’t both New York BWI and DWI convictions be counted together in court?

New York judges must now consider any incidents that involve alcohol and operating a vehicle. If you’ve already been convicted of boating while intoxicated (BWI) and are now facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges, your judge will see all charges and convictions. Their discretion will determine the extent of extra consequences for the DWI, on top of mandatory fines, court costs, an ignition interlock requirement and more.

The New York BWI penalties are no less strict than those for a DWI. Granted, you won’t have an ignition interlock requirement on your boat or your vehicle. But a first offense BWI means you’ll have a fine, you could spend up to a year in jail and you’ll lose your watercraft for a year. A second BWI is a Class E felony and it gets worse from there.

What New York is really saying to everyone is that operating any vehicle while intoxicated is a bad move. There are plenty of ways to have fun, enjoy a few adult beverages and not put the lives of others in danger on the roads or the waterways. Counting all offenses that show a problem with judgment after drinking puts responsibility back in the hands of those holding up another drink, wondering if they’re okay to drive. The response to that question is an affirmative no, and the state will back up that stance with each New York BWI and DWI violation that you make.

Beware the Sunday Brunch New York DWI

No Sunday brunch New York DWI problemsEvery state has its own regulations and rules for selling and serving alcohol. Ohio will not let you get a fish drunk and Kentucky says you’re not to drink on Election Day, no matter which candidate you’re choosing. Political commentary aside, we all enjoy a drink here and there, and Sunday brunch is a fine time to imbibe before noon, as long as we aren’t risking a New York DWI, right? Except New York hasn’t been all that fond of Sunday brunch drinkers, an interesting throwback to prohibition laws in the state. But that’s all changing, as New York may allow drinking before noon on Sundays.

One proposed law would allow bars to start serving alcohol at 8am on Sunday (another suggests 11am), a change from the current prohibition of alcohol sales from 3am until noon. While that gives people a chance to enjoy a mimosa at brunch, or perhaps a Bloody Mary, the new law could also encourage more people to risk a New York DWI in search for that “hair of the dog” hangover cure.

Even a person who had a ride home from a bar or club at 2AM could still be legally intoxicated at 8AM. The sluggishness from an early hangover combined with such a small amount of sleep can be confused with still feeling the effects of all those drinks from the night before. That same combination of hangover and fatigue on top of a residual blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level can be just as dangerous as a person leaving a bar with a BAC at or above the legal limit. New York acknowledges the national per se BAC limit of .08 percent, but it also has designations for those who are impaired while driving (DWAI) but are just shy of the legal limit. Plus, New York requires an ignition interlock for all drunk driving convictions.

In other words, just as when you plan to have drinks with friends at a bar or restaurant at night, your brunch should include a plan for a safe ride home, too. You’re no less drunk during daylight, and you can pose just as much of a risk on the roads.

WWYD: Lose Your Car or Gain an Interlock for a New Mexico DWI?

New Mexico vehicle seizure or ignition interlockIn New Mexico, a DWI can get messy, even before you’re actually convicted of the crime. New Mexico has a policy for habitual DWI offenders that allows the state to take away the vehicle used during the incident. On one hand, the policy makes sense, as it could be seen as one way to prevent any further attempts to drive while intoxicated. On the other hand, the policy also prevents an offender from driving while they’re sober.

That means the offender has a much harder time remaining employed, finding a job, getting to school or helping keep other family responsibilities together. That’s where an ignition interlock device becomes the better tool for helping to rehabilitate a New Mexico DWI offender, even one with several convictions. A person who is able to continue living life as normally as possible has a better outcome after a DWI. That same person can be prevented from repeating their crime, while going about their normal day, by using an ignition interlock device. Vehicle seizures could work adversely to that, encouraging more offenders to drive another car (without an ignition interlock) illegally, while possibly under the influence of alcohol.

Obviously, with a 36-year low in New Mexico DWI deaths, the state is doing something right with all types of drunk driving crimes. But, even Governor Martinez says the state still has a big problem with DWI. By attributing the decline in New Mexico DWI deaths to factors like ignition interlocks, DWI courts and mandatory substance abuse programs, the reliance on older tactics like vehicle seizure could be reduced or eliminated. After all, a DWI driver can have a healthy relationship with alcohol, and a responsible attitude toward driving only if they are still allowed access to their own vehicle where the only thing that could stop their recovery is an interlock test failure.

New York Knows You’re Tampering with Your Ignition Interlock

New York ignition interlock tampering and violationsWith New York’s all-offender ignition interlock policy, it’s easy to think that all DWI offenders follow through with their interlock commitment. That’s unfortunately not the case, not in New York or in any other state in the U.S. One of the biggest complaints about ignition interlock requirements is that not all offenders are using the device, even when ordered by the court. If compliance is down, then you can bet that there are more drunk drivers on the road too.

There’s a disconnect between the court that orders the device, the offender and ignition interlock service provider who install the device and the police who need to enforce the use of the device. If they don’t know what to look for, either with the ignition interlock designation on a driver’s license or signs of a device that has been tampered with, they cannot cite an offender for their part in circumventing the requirement or not installing the device at all.

That’s why New York is putting in some time and money to educate its officers about ignition interlock devices. Three counties in New York just schooled law enforcement, probation officers and prosecuting attorneys on what ignition interlock tampering looks like. Since New York has admitted to a problem with interlock compliance, this is a big step toward reducing the numbers of drivers on the road illegally, while keeping those roads safe from potential drunk drivers who are already in the system. If an offender is caught without an interlock or otherwise misusing it,

Despite a few problems, the all-offender ignition interlock policy in New York is a stellar example of how well the devices work to keep repeat DWI offenses down. Now with the additional training, the disconnect between the courtroom and the car can be reduced, keeping tampering to a minimum and safety a top priority.

New York’s Ignition Interlock Problem

Ignition interlock problem in New YorkWe are always impressed with New York’s approach to its DWI problem. With an all-offender ignition interlock policy, it would seem that the state has the right idea when it comes to keeping a DWI offender from driving while intoxicated again. That’s why we often look at New York as an example of some of the strictest ignition interlock and DWI laws in the U.S.

But if New York isn’t following up with a DWI offender and any interlock violations, there really isn’t a point to being so strict. Out of the six New York counties that were recently audited by the state comptroller, none of them were consistently reporting interlock violations like attempts to tamper with the device. If a DWI offender tried to start their interlock-equipped vehicle while intoxicated, those violations were not reported, either. Fortunately, those violations would result in a disabled vehicle, so the short-term danger was avoided. But the long-term challenge of rehabilitation after a DWI is a lot more difficult when offenders are not held accountable for their actions.

New York isn’t alone in these types of problems. Plenty of states also cite a lack of administrative support or the ability to oversee interlock requirements as an obstacle in the fight for safe roads. New York does have the ability, however, to be an example once again and build a better path toward all-offender ignition interlock policies and the background support to enforce those laws.

Even with some of the strictest ignition interlock requirements in the U.S., there is always more room for improvement when it comes to safer roads. New York has been leading the way with “Leandra’s Law” and its statewide approach to reducing repeat DWI offenses. Now it just has to build up a better network and processes to ensure all that work was worth the fight to get us to a better, safer road.

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