Halloween is nearly upon us, and shortly after we get into Thanksgiving and the end of year office-party season. Each of these events can – and does – lead to people drinking, sometimes in copious amounts. After all, you want to have a good time and be social with friends, family, and coworkers. However, it is important to have a plan in place after you start drinking to make sure that you, and everyone else on the road, get home safe.
If if you’ve been drinking or using drugs, consider these alarming facts before you get behind the wheel.
In 2016, the Center for Disease Control estimated that 28% of traffic-related deaths in the United States involved alcohol and specifically, alcohol impairment. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration further estimates that every day, 29 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes – one person every 50 minutes. In Arizona alone, nearly 3,000 people have died between 2003 and 2012 in auto collisions involving a drunk driver.
Even scarier is that in 2014, US adults self-reported 111 million (11,000,000) alcohol-impaired driving estimates. While this number is the lowest level reported since 1993, it is still a staggering number of incidences. Even scarier is that only 1 million people were arrested for driving while drunk in 2016 – a tiny fraction of the number of reported incidents.
In fact, the FBI estimates that the average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before his or her first arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Unfortunately, the people at risk in DUI crashes are not just the people who have been drinking. The CDC also reports that alcohol-impaired drivers killed 17% of children aged 0-14 who died in traffic incidents in 2016.
Not every alcohol-related crash results in death – in fact, the CDC estimates that nearly ⅔ of people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
Arizona DUI Enforcement
Because of the serious nature of drunk driving crashes and the threat of fatal car crashes due to drunk driving, Arizona has some of the strictest laws regulating drinking and driving in the country.
In Arizona, if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, you can and will be charged with driving under the influence. A DUI can land you a felony conviction and will stay on your criminal history for the rest of your life. You can go to jail – sometimes for several years – and be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines. You will lose your license. Every potential employer will see the charge on your record, making it difficult to find a job – especially one that requires you to drive.
Arizona takes an aggressive stance towards enforcement of drunk driving. Law enforcement regularly sets up DUI checkpoints on the weekends and over holidays, when they know people have been drinking. Arizona will also often require people who have been convicted of, or plea to, DUIs to install ignition interlock devices. These devices test the driver’s alcohol ingestion before allowing the car to be turned on.
What is my BAC?
Someone’s BAC level will depend on their metabolism, how much they have eaten and drank, and their height and weight. However, a good rule of thumb is that a 160-pound person who consumes three drinks has a BAC level of approximately 0.06% and once they finish that fourth drink, the limit rises to 0.08%. (A drink is considered 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 12 ounces of beer, and 5 ounces of wine.) Someone with a different weight will have a different BAC level after three or four drinks. Remember: it’s not the type of drink that causes impairment, but the amount consumed over time. Additionally, only time will sober you up – not coffee, taking a shower, or working out.
It’s important to note that even if you aren’t at the legal limit for alcohol, you can still be a drunk driver. You can be impaired enough to cause a driving accident even after one drink. Don’t be that person. Instead, call a taxi, Uber, or your non-impaired friend to take you home instead.
Getting the help you need
If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, contact West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman to discuss your legal options. It is possible to fight a DUI charge and our team has significant experience defending against these charges.