Drunk-driving is listed with reckless driving, over-speeding and driver error: the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Car accidents in the U.S. have always numbered to more than five million annually, injuring more than two million and killing at least 30,000. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the usual offenders of the drunk-driving law are young drivers, specifically, those aged between 17 and 24. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit set by the U.S. government is 0.08% (the limit is lower for commercial truck drivers and individuals below the age of 21). Offenders caught will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or with the more serious offense, drinking while impaired/intoxicated (DWI) (some states do not make distinctions as to the severity of the offense between DUI and DWI). DUI or DWI is a serious crime in the U.S. Penalties include:

  • First offense:
    • Up to 1 year jail-time
    • $500-$1000 in fines
    • Minimum 6 month license suspension
  • Second offense:
    • Up to 4 years jail-time
    • $1,000-$5,000 in fines
    • Minimum 1 year license suspension
    • Ignition Interlock Device required
  • Third offense:
    • Up to 7 years jail-time
    • $2,000-10,000 in fines
    • Minimum 1 year license suspension
    • Ignition Interlock Device required

Some states include revocation or suspension of driver’s license and/or the installation of an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) in the vehicle of the offender. An IID is a device like the breath analyzer. It measures the level of BAC in the driver. If the BAC level detected by the IID is higher than its programmed limit, it will automatically render the vehicle incapable of starting. Drunk-driving accidents usually happen on weekends and on holidays. This is because, despite drinking, many simply refuse to believe that the alcohol they consume will impair them. People will have to realize that BAC reading is based on the concentration level of alcohol in one’s blood, regardless of whether he/she has high tolerance for alcohol. Thus, if charged, a really good criminal defense attorney would be his/her best ticket to an acquittal.