Counter-arguing Charges of Impaired Driving

Nov 20

DWI, which stands for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired, and DUI, for driving under the influence, are serious crimes that refer to driving while impaired by the effects of either alcohol or drugs (illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs). While some states use DWI and DUI interchangeably to refer to the same crime, others differentiate between the two, using DUI to signify lesser intoxication, thus, charging a driver with a lesser offense.

All US states consider a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher as impaired driving and, to further reduce drunk or drugged driving incidences, some authoritative bodies have been empowered to set lower BAC limits, as well as impose more severe penalties on offenders. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for instance, has set a zero tolerance level for those below the age of 21, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has mandated a 0.04% BAC limit for those driving a commercial vehicle, such as a truck.

Many states are also becoming stricter in enforcing anti-drunk driving laws, thus the setting up of more sobriety check points and enforcers becoming more observant of signs of drunk driving. An enforcer, of course, has the authority to stop a driver suspected of being impaired and require him or her to perform some tests, like standing on one leg or walking in a straight line, and even submit to a breathalyzer test.

Professional-grade breathalyzer devices, like those used by law enforcers for roadside alcohol testing are acknowledged as highly accurate and sensitive. There are important factors, however, that enforcers need to consider when using these devices on suspected drunk drivers:

  • These breathalyzers require periodic calibration in order to maintain accurate reading; failure to calibrate these regularly can affect BAC analysis.
  • Breathalyzers can definitely measure alcohol which is present in alcoholic drinks; however, it will also give measurable BAC readings if one consumes food cooked in alcohol, or uses substances that contain (even small amounts of) alcohol, like toothache medicines and mouthwash.
  • Acetone, which is detectable in the breath of those on high protein diets and diabetics, and other compounds that have a molecular structure similar to alcohol, may result to BAC readings. Besides these, adhesives, plastics, varnish, paint fumes, and cleaning chemicals with rubbing alcohol, can also produce false BAC results.

Impairment, the effect of alcohol and the real root of danger for both the (impaired) driver and all others on the road, is the top reason why drinking and driving is strictly prohibited under federal and state laws. But, while this may be a totally acceptable reason for apprehending and charging offenders, one main issue that has led to so many legal concerns is the overzealousness of some enforcers which has, in a number of instances, resulted to the unreasonable arrest of many individuals.

In an article posted in its website, the Law Offices of Richard A. Portale, P.C., affirms the increased attention given by law enforcers on drunk driving and the maximum penalties imposed on those charged. But while said law firm may be concerned about the steep penalties that those charged can suffer from, it is much more worried about the serious professional and personal consequences of a criminal charge on the accused. This same legal concern is mentioned and explained in an article found in a website with address, www.lomtl.com/practice-areas/alcohol-offenses/driving-while-intoxicated/. Aside from the possible penalties and life-altering effects of a DWI conviction, the article also mentions the importance of contacting a criminal (DWI) defense attorney immediately, for the hope of possibly clearing one’s name of all criminal charges.

Read More