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Drunk Driving and Its Dangers: In and Out of the Courts

driving accident

Despite the constant reminders of authorities, many people still drive while under the influence of alcohol, not realizing the dangers it comes with. Broken cars can be taken to auto repair shops or centers, but a lost loved one is lost forever. Statistics show that 29 people die in vehicle crashes due to drunk driving in the United States. That is equivalent to 1 death every 50 minutes.

The Internet is full of stories of how drunk driving destroyed families. Some stories dwell on the consequences, from serious disabilities, major losses, and even making difficult decisions for those who were seriously hurt. One example is the one about a drunk truck driver who struck a car with a woman and her daughter inside. The latter died on the spot, while the woman was declared brain dead. The family was still undecided whether to remove or not the life support because according to the doctors, the chances of her recovering from the state of coma was nearly impossible. But in the end, the family had to make the difficult decision, and they had to bury their loved one.

Painful Consequences, A Moment of Bad Judgment

For many offenders, it is simply a moment of bad judgment: one more drink, one small sip which often could lead to more. But even so, the authorities and the law have put the accountability on the driver. Any driver must be responsible enough not to drive any machinery under the influence of alcohol or addictive substances which could impair their five senses.

A large portion of drunk driving offenses is tried as DWI (driving while intoxicated). A DWI violation is evidenced by a BAC level of over 0.08 or if a law enforcement officer observed that your driving abilities are impaired. The latter generally involves a failed sobriety test.

Most people plead guilty to a DWI charge since they think this is a minor offense which only attracts a fine. This is, however, erroneous thinking. Other than a fine of $2000 for first-time offenders and higher for second and third offenders, here are the penalties a DWI conviction might attract.

Imprisonment

A first DWI offense in most states is considered a misdemeanor and can hence attract a six months imprisonment. This might be the first penalty a judge considers if the BAC during your arrest is more than 15%. Some states also require those found guilty of first-time DWI offenses to serve jail sentences of several days while repeat offenders can be jailed for several months.

Revocation of License

driving in the curve

Revocation of your driving license is also a standard penalty for DWI charges. Most states will suspend a first-time offender’s license for at least ninety days, a second-time offender’s for a year and a third-time offender’s for three years. To ensure you do not drive, they might confiscate your car or cancel your car’s registration temporarily.

Community Service

This is a standard penalty for first-time offenders. The judge might combine the community service with other penalties. In other cases, you can do community service without payment of fines or imprisonment.

These above legal penalties are not the only ones which should worry you. A DWI conviction also affects the insurance rates you get for your vehicle. Some insurers drastically increase the rates while others might cancel your policy. The conviction will also stay on your driving record for many years, and the trauma to families will last for years. Not only for the ones who lost loved ones, but also for the family of the offender, who might have to make difficult decisions to pay lawyers, doctors and reparations.

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