Drunk driving laws are fairly uniform no matter which state you’re in — .08% BAC is the legal limit, and any law enforcement official is allowed to pull over a driver on the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and the punishments for a DWI conviction are pretty severe. But there are a few pieces of legislation about drunk driving tests and state sentencing guidelines that many drivers don’t know:
- Although most attention is given to drunk driving offenses, driving under the influence of drugs can be just as serious and can warrant a DUI arrest. Usually these offenses are committed by drivers who have consumed illegal drugs, but it’s also possible to receive a DUI for taking a legal medication that was prescribed to you — or even one that’s offered over the counter. If a medication is likely to cause confusion, delayed sensory information, or drowsiness, it’s usually illegal for a person to operate a vehicle after consuming that medication.
- With DWI arrests and convictions, about one-third of those cases involve drivers who previously received DWI convictions. In other words, the overwhelming majority of drunk driving cases are committed by drivers who don’t make a habit out of getting the wheel after having a few drinks — but laws are in place to catch those drivers who don’t care about public safety and continue driving under the influence, even after being penalized for doing so before.
- If you get pulled over while driving and the officer suspects that you’ve been drinking, you’re legally required under Implied Consent Laws to perform a chemical test that will determine your BAC. It’s illegal to refuse a chemical test completely if the officer has reason to believe that you’ve been drinking, although drivers can choose between three tests: a breathalyzer (offered by the officer on the roadside), a blood draw test, or a urine test (administered at medical facilities by healthcare professionals). Refusing to take a chemical test will result in very serious penalties, especially if you end up being convicted of driving while intoxicated.
So what do you think — are these surprising, or are they reasonable parts of DWI legislation?