You know that moment of panic when you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror? As you silently pray that it’s not you the police want to pull over, you’re having a universal experience, because everyone has skirted traffic laws now and then. We speed up rather than slow down for yellow lights, or roll past a stop sign rather than come to a full stop. And because we get away with these minor traffic violations so often, they become habits—and not good ones.
There are also times when you shouldn’t be driving, but you get behind the wheel anyway. Maybe you’re suffering from a head cold and have taken a decongestant, ignoring the warning label that tells you not to drive, because you need to get to work.Perhaps you went out with the guys for a single drink that turned into three or four. You feel fine; you can walk a straight line and hey, you’re not going that far anyway, right? So what’s the big deal?
The Consequences of Drunk Driving
Jail – that’s a big deal. Driving under the Influence (DUI), also known as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), is a criminal offense that is responsible for the deaths of three people every 2 hours on our nation’s highways. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation reports that, while men and women have both been guilty of this crime, 81% of those caught drinking and driving are men.
Penalties for D.U.I. can be severe, ranging from probation to life in prison. The variety of circumstances and different state laws make it very difficult to generalize about standard sentences following a D.U.I. conviction. For example, one woman in Texas was recently sentenced to life in prison after her sixth DUI offense, while another driver in Seattle was sentenced to only ten years in prison after killing someone while driving drunk.
It’s also possible to lose your job following a D.U.I. incident, even before a trial or conviction. For example, people who work with children are more likely to get fired, as in the case of former New Jersey Nets guard Kenny Anderson, who lost his coaching job at a Florida high school after his D.U.I. arrest. Public officials and those holding important positions in the community are also considered unfit for office following a D.U.I. Even if you’re lucky and get to keep your job, you will surely lose your reputation and good name.
Penalties in Greensboro
In the Greensboro, North Carolina area, a first offense will automatically land you a 24-hour jail sentence, a mandatory license suspension of 60-120 days, and a hefty fine. And it gets worse from there: refusinga Breathalyzer or other chemical test can result inone year license suspension. Also, a little-known fact is that a driver can be arrested for being even slightly drunk, or well below the standard .08 limit, since he or she would still be “under the influence” and present a danger to the public.
How You Can Prevent a D.U.I. Incident
Given the very real consequences of being caught driving under the influence, you should never drive unless completely sober. In fact, don’t even think about using one of those “how drunk am I?” online calculators or apps. They don’t account for the strength of your drink, your metabolism, any medications you may be taking, and whether you’ve eaten recently.
The good news about D.U.I. is that there has been significant progress in reducing D.U.I. incidents across the country. The Century Council, which has been fighting against drunk driving and underage drinking for two decades, reports that during this period of time alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have declined 35%, and among those under age 21, D.U.I.-related fatalities have declined 58% since the Council’s formation. Last year, 41 states and D.C. reported decreases in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. Consumption rates nationally and among those under the legal drinking age showed marked decreases in 2011, reaching historic low levels.
You can be part of this great trend if you remember to arrange for alternate transportation or turn your keys over to someone else when you decide to drink. That would be a much better universal experience than being pulled over and arrested for drunk driving.