Should You Give The Gift Of A Personal Breathalyzer?

personal breathalyzerIt’s that time of the year again: the season of holiday parties, spiked egg nog, and mulled wine is upon us, and what can often go hand and hand with alcohol during the holidays? Drunk driving rates will spike during the festive holiday season, and that’s why so many people are giving the gift of a personal breathalyzer this year.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to have a personal breathalyzer with you or why you would want to give a friend one this holiday. 

Knowing your BAC can keep you safe

Many drunk driving arrest stories start with a few drinks and end with that person deciding he or she is fine to get behind the wheel of a car. With a personal breathalyzer, the guess work of whether or not you’re fine to drive is gone. You’ll know what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is, and that should help eliminate the choice to drink and drive.

It can save you a lot of money

The cost of a personal breathalyzer is minimal, especially when you compare it to what it will cost you if you drive drunk and are convicted on that charge. Some states can charge as much as $1,000 in fines for a first drunk driving conviction, and that doesn’t include lawyer fees, insurance premiums, driver’s license reinstatement fees, and ignition interlock fees.  

A personal breathalyzer can change your perception of drunk driving

Just the very act of carrying a personal breathalyzer can make you think twice about drunk driving. When you know you’ll have to test your blood before you get in the car, you’ll be much less likely to drive drunk at all.

There’s one thing to keep in mind when using a personal breathalyzer during the holidays or any other day of the year: just because you don’t blow over the legal limit, doesn’t mean you should drive. The legal blood limit is a legal limit at which you can be charged for drunk driving, but anti-drunk driving advocates like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recommend that you avoid driving after drinking any amount of alcohol.

Whether you wrap one up and put it under the tree or you stuff it in a loved one’s stocking, the gift of a personal breathalyzer is one that will help keep your loved ones safe all year long.

 

California Overrun With Crashes While Waiting For Ignition Interlocks

ignition interlocks californiaIgnition interlocks will be coming to California state-wide on January 1st, 2019, and that’s the best step to take to improve road safety. But 2019 can feel like it’s really far away when you consider some of the drunk driving arrests and crashes happening on California roads recently.

One man from Placentia, California is the perfect example of California’s repeat offender problem and why ignition interlocks are so important. He had ten driving under the influence (DUI) convictions on his record, and he’s just been charged with DUI again. Despite being sentenced two years in jail for one conviction and three years for another, he continues to drink and drive. Unfortunately for him, because he’s had so many arrests over a ten year period, this last conviction is considered a felony in California.

Another drunk driver, this time from Costa Mesa, showed just how dangerous drunk drivers are for California police officers, even when they aren’t actively stopping them. After one California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer pulled over to help someone on the side of the freeway in Anaheim, a drunk driver slammed into his vehicle at 65 mph. Thankfully he only suffered minor injuries, but just like Officer Noah Leotta’s death in Maryland, this is another case where a police officer could have been killed just for being on the side of the road.

These are only two drunk driving incidents out of hundreds of recent arrests in California, and if anyone ever doubted whether or not the ignition interlock pilot program needed to expand and be rolled out state-wide, cases like these should put any qualms to rest.

Ignition interlocks are the only device that will stop a drunk driver from being able to start their vehicle, so if someone like the repeat offender in Placentia or the driver who hit the CHP vehicle thinks it’s a good idea to get behind the wheel while drunk, the state will have the power to stop them. For California, New Year’s Day 2019 really can’t come soon enough.

How Much Jail Time Is Enough For A Ninth Drunk Driving Charge?

ninth drunk driving chargeOne drunk driving charge can be chalked up to a bad choice, and a lot of people stop at one, learn their lesson, and never drive drunk again. But some people don’t learn the hard way, and they rack up repeat drunk driving convictions.

Take one man in Montana for example. He’s been arrested not just once, not three times, but a whopping nine time for drunk driving. His ninth charge resulted from crashing into a moving vehicle and then into two parked cars. When he was arrested he also refused to submit to a breathalyzer test and was forced to submit a blood sample at the hospital.

You’d think with nine drunk driving charges on his record, as well as the count of felony criminal mischief he received during his ninth arrest, that he’d be going to prison for quite some time. Not so: five years in jail is all this man will receive for his ninth drunk driving conviction.

That seems like a fairly light sentence when you take a few things into consideration. The lookback period for a drunk driving charge in Montana is a lifetime. That means any charge he’s had on his record should be considered when he’s arrested again. For repeat offenders in Montana, a fourth drunk driving conviction is an automatic felony, and that charge should come with significant jail time.

According to Montana drunk driving law, a three time or more repeat offender should see the inside of a jail cell for up to a year. They’ll also pay fines up to $5000, lose their driver’s license for one year, and will be required to install an ignition interlock. Considering he was on his eighth drunk driving charge when he was arrested this last time, one hast to wonder how he was allowed to be driving at all, especially without an ignition interlock.

Out of all of the states, Montana is considered once of the most lenient. It ranked 40 out of 51 states where number one, Arizona, is considered to be the most strict for drunk driving arrests. That leniency shows in drunk driving sentences, especially when you compare this five year sentence with a man in Texas was who also arrested for his ninth drunk driving charge. He ended up with life in prison, and his last arrest was a crash where no one died either.

Is nine times the charm? With only five years in jail to mull it over, you have to wonder if this repeat drunk driver will ever learn to stop drinking and driving. At the very least, Montana should consider passing a real ignition interlock law. At present, the state does not require interlock devices for any offenses – they are discretionary, meaning they are only installed if a judge orders them. More than half the states in the country now mandate ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenses. It might be time for Montana to protect its citizens from impaired drivers. Interlock laws would be a good place to start.

Friday Fallout: Drunk Drivers And Victim Blaming? It Happens.

drunk drivers TexasWhat would happen if all drunk drivers blamed their victims? What if, although the driver was responsible for drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel, and they alone started the car, drove, and crashed into someone, they somehow decided that their victim was to blame for the crash.

You can imagine the devastation felt by the family members of the victim. It’s hard to believe that anyone would do that given the evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately that’s exactly what’s happening in Bryan, Texas.

On October 17th Maria Ramirez was driving down the highway when an alleged drunk driver hit her while entering the highway from an exit ramp. She died from her injuries, and the drunk driver was taken to jail. He’s still there, but he hasn’t been charged yet.

friday-falloutIn response to the crash, Ramirez’s family decided to launch a civil suit against the driver. In any civil suit the person being served has a chance to reply and he did so, stating in a legal document that the crash and the subsequent damages were the fault of Maria Ramirez.

It’s an open court case and the decision could go either way, but it’s safe to say that the counter-claim would be devastating to the family. It’s hard enough to lose your loved one because someone made the careless choice to drink and drive, but to also have to experience a lengthy trial and have to fight over who’s to blame? It’s rubbing salt in a wound that will never heal.

Texas has more than it’s fair share of drunk drivers, and once these drivers cause a crash they’d probably do almost anything to forget about it and resume their lives. Unfortunately for both the driver and the victim, you can’t take it back once you make the decision to drink and drive. If the driver in this case was driving drunk and he successfully manages to blame the victim in a court of law, it’s sets a dangerous precedent for all drivers in Texas.

3 Reasons To Consider An Ignition Interlock For Your Teen

teen ignition interlockThere’s nothing so scary as when a parent hands the car keys to their teen for the first time. There’s so many emotions associated with letting your teen go off and drive, especially considering that there’s a lot of data out there showing that teens are more likely to die in a traffic crash than any other way. That’s why some parents consider putting an ignition interlock on their teen’s car.

Why would you put an ignition interlock, something that stops convicted drunk drivers from driving drunk, on a car your teen drives? Here are three good reasons.

Teen crash fatality rates are rising

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 2,163 teens killed in the United States due to motor vehicle crashes in 2013. Although the incidents of teen drinking and driving has been dropping every year, recent data showed that nearly one million teens made the decision to drink and drive in 2011.

You can talk to your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving, but you’ll never be 100% sure when they leave home if they’ll cave to peer pressure. With an ignition interlock on the vehicle, they may decide to drink but they won’t be able to drive.

Summer parties are in full swing

Teens hold a lot of parties in the summer, and if your own son or daughter attends one of these parties, they might decide to drink. If you’ve given them the keys to a car equipped with an ignition interlock, you won’t need to worry about whether or not they’re going to get home safe during summer vacation.

Many teens are heading to college for the first time

For many teens, going away to college is their first real taste of freedom away from mom and dad. There’s a lot a parent worries about, especially when you hear the stories of binge drinking and parties. Since you won’t be there to watch over your teen and stop him or her from drinking and driving, your ignition interlock can do that job for you. It’s one less worry when your child moves away from home to go to school.

A voluntary ignition interlock installation is a quick, easy step you can take to get peace of mind when your teen is out in the world without you. If they blow with alcohol on their breath, the car won’t go, and it’s one of the best ways to keep them safe from traffic crashes.

Maybe It’s Time School Bus Drivers Use Ignition Interlocks

ignition-interlocks-in-school-busesIt’s hard to send your child off to school on the school bus, even if it’s not his or her first time going. You need to be able to trust the person who is driving them, and you want to be sure that he or she has a clean driving record and makes responsible choices to keep all of the children on their bus safe.

But it seems that there’s been a rash of school bus drivers choosing to drive impaired in recent weeks, with several drunk driving arrests involving school bus drivers cropping up all over the country. How can you be sure you’re child is safe? It might be time for school boards to make ignition interlocks mandatory in all buses.

Just take a look at few of the driving under the influence (DUI) arrests from the past few weeks.

Arkansas

A school bus driver was arrested on several charges including driving while intoxicated (DWI) after police say she was driving 25mph over the speed limit during her drive home with 29 students on board. Thankfully, no one was injured and the students were taken home safely by another driver. In addition to the DWI charges, the driver was suspended from her job without pay.

Wisconsin

Students were taken on a dangerous ride through a cornfield after a school bus driver made the choice to drink and drive. After the bus veered into the cornfield the driver got back on the road and continued to drive with 4 high school students on board. Someone called 911 and he was pulled over and charged with an operating while intoxicated (OWI) first offense with a passenger of 16 years old in the vehicle.

Vermont

There were no students on the bus, but a Vermont high school bus driver is in hot water after he was found intoxicated behind the wheel. The principal of the school reported the bus driver and when police attended, they determined he was intoxicated. Charges are pending.

Three incidents of school bus drivers under the influence of alcohol in one week: it’s scary, and it wouldn’t be surprising if every parent took a really good look at their child’s bus driver the next time he or she pulled up.

It’s past time to make sure every school bus driver is sober behind the wheel. By installing ignition interlocks in all buses and having drivers prove sobriety before they drive, the school board could guarantee a child’s safety and give parents peace of mind.

What Will Haunt You? The Penalties Or The Shame Of Drunk Driving?

penalties-or-shame-duiWhen you’re out for the night with friends and you have one or two drinks, you probably aren’t thinking about what could happen if you get stopped later on in the night for drunk driving. That ‘it can’t happen to me’ mentality is one of the reasons why so many people continue to drive drunk, and because they think they couldn’t possibly kill someone or be arrested due to drunk driving, they put the keys in the ignition and drive home after 2, 3, or more drinks.

But when someone is stopped or they do crash, that person is in for a rude awakening. Your first thought might be that you’ll go to jail, and you’d be right in some states. Depending on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest, even first offenders can be required to spend time in jail in places like Arizona, South Carolina, and Florida.

Jail isn’t the only penalty you’ll endure after a DUI arrest. Once you’re arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) you’ll receive a court date, and that’s where your fines, drivers license suspension, and possible ignition interlock program will be decided.

Just based on penalties, it’s going to cost you a lot of time, inconvenience, and money to get back on track after a DUI arrest, but there’s more to worry about when you’ve been caught drinking and driving. The shame that comes along with being someone who made the irresponsible choice to drink and drive can be harder on an offender than the actual arrest.

If you go online and look for DUI offenders first hand accounts of the experience, you’ll see a lot of commentary on how they feel ashamed of themselves. One lady even mentioned that it affected her relationship with her own mother, and that “She made me feel really, really bad. She didn’t want to see me and shut the door in my face and told me to go away. That was the worst feeling ever.”

That’s just an example of the shame that comes along with simply receiving a DUI. Can you imagine if you crashed and injured or killed someone? It’s something you’d have to live with for the rest of your life.

If you or someone you know is about to put keys in the ignition after a night of drinking, you might want to think about both the penalties and the shame of DUI. Both can haunt you for a long time after your arrest.

Why Do People Drink And Drive?

why-do-people-drink-and-driveThere are ad campaigns, billboards, public service announcements in the form of videos, and checkpoints with locations published in local newspapers: with all of the information available on the dangers of drinking and driving, the very obvious counter-attacks designed to catch people who get behind the wheel after drinking, and the wide-spread publication of tragic alcohol-related crashes, why do people continue to drink and drive?

If you dig online through the commentary after the publication of yet another tragic crash you’ll see people giving reasons including ‘Because I can’ to ‘I can handle my alcohol better than the person who has caused this crash.’ One comment on Freakonomics.com summed up the question pretty neatly, ‘There is a sense of entitlement among people who perpetually drive over the limit. In their mind, they are fine. It isn’t until an accident occurs that there is an issue.’

Sometimes, even when a crash does occur, it doesn’t make a difference. There are multiple news posts every week detailing repeat offenders involved in crashes, and for some, it wasn’t their first crash. Take the case of a repeat offender in Dayton, Ohio who killed herself and two others in a recent drunk driving crash. She was driving on a suspended license due to multiple driving under the influence (DUI) charges.

Or, how about the man in Plymouth, Massachusetts who was drunk and texting when he smashed into a car? He had repeat offenses and was driving on a suspended license in a vehicle with no tags. These are just two of thousands of examples you can find of repeat offenders who continue to drive drunk despite the risks and penalties.

For a family member who’s lost a loved one in a drinking and driving crash, it’s a no brainer not to get behind the wheel after drinking. Drinking alcohol affects your vision, hand/eye coordination, and reflexes, and scientific research backs up the fact that you cannot safely operate a vehicle after drinking, yet people still make the choice to drink and drive. That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), law enforcement, and local governments have put their support into ignition interlock devices.

Once installed, ignition interlock devices will stop a drunk driver from starting their vehicle, period. Without an ignition interlock, the choice is left up to the offender, and more often than not, that offender will make the choice to drink and drive again.

If your state doesn’t require ignition interlock devices for all offenders, you may want to spend some time asking your local representative why. With people making the choice to drive drunk every day, it’s the best way to stop someone before they put their keys in the ignition.

Finally, Some DUI Statistics That May Help Improve Arrests

states-most-DUI-arrestsWith public service announcements, campaigns to promote safe driving, and checkpoints on most nights, it’s absolutely astounding that people still make the decision to drink and drive. But drinking and driving they must be, because the latest statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that across the entire United States there were 1,166,824 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests in 2013 alone.

Although it’s obvious people are getting arrested for DUI, it’s not as obvious exactly where most of these arrests are happening. That’s why a drug addiction resource center called Project Know decided to compile some statistics on state-wide DUI and which state you’re more likely to get arrested. Here’s a few highlights of what they found:

The Dakotas top the list

Out of all 50 states, North Dakota and South Dakota rank highest for DUI arrests in 2013—North Dakota had 87.3 arrests per 10,000 people and South Dakota had 63.1, well above the national average of 37.4. At the bottom of the list is Alabama, with only 0.5 arrests per 10,000.

Why is no one getting arrested in Boston?

Boston only had 792 arrests for DUI between 2011 and 2014, making it one of the few major cities with a dismal arrest record. Some have speculated that it was due to a lack of effort by local law enforcement.

Checkpoints not allowed in Washington State

There were 5,439 DUI arrests in Seattle, Washington between January 2013 to November 2014, and incredibly, Washington State does not allow checkpoints. That means that law enforcement is out there stopping drunk drivers one by one, and that’s good news for people who live in Seattle.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that over 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2013, so statistics like these from Project Know can be put to good use to stop DUI across the country. Maybe this study will motivate hot spots like Alabama and Boston to step up their DUI game and improve their arrest records.

Need A Reminder Not To Drink And Drive?

reminder-not-to-drink-and-driveNo one should need a reminder not to drink and drive. It is dangerous and could result in a crash that injures or kills you or innocent victims. Furthermore, the penalties ranging from prison time to an ignition interlock device, are so harsh they could alter the course of your life forever.

Yet every single day people are choosing to put the keys in the ignition after a few too many drinks, so maybe a reminder of what the consequences can be is a good idea.

Take a recent driving under the influence (DUI) crash near San Francisco. A driver in an out of control Corvette plowed into an apartment building and took the life of a 40-year-old woman and her 14-month-old baby. It’s believed the driver had been drinking at a nearby wine festival, and his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .13 percent when tested.

He was charged on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence. According to California DUI laws, he faces prison time, suspension of his driver’s license for years, and if he ever gets it back, may have to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle he drives. But those are minor penalties compared to living with the fact that you killed an innocent mother and her baby, all because you choose to drink and drive.

If the thought of killing someone in a crash doesn’t stop you, drinking drivers should also take into consideration that it’s becoming harder and harder to get away with DUI. One recent case in California resulted in a California Supreme Court ruling that the Department of Motor Vehicles can consider circumstantial evidence in DUI cases. That means that if you fail a field sobriety test, it can be taken into consideration just like your BAC content, making it harder to fight a DUI charge if you get one.

These are good reminders, if you needed one, not to drink and drive. When you weigh the risks the choice seems simple—don’t drink and drive.

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