10 May, 2012

Mystery Musings: DUI is hazardous - and expensive!

Most of us get in our cars, turn on the ignition and drive off with little or no thought beyond our destination. At least I did until last Tuesday night.

Did you know that if you're on the road, one in ten drivers around you is drunk? Kind of makes you stop and think, doesn't it? 

And what about that $45 bottle of wine you ordered with dinner?  According to our instructor, Any amount of alcohol will affect driving ability. Alcohol's effect is magnified by emotions, physical condition, use of prescription drugs or other types of drugs, some over-the-counter medications (muscle relaxants, pain killers, migraine pills) and some herbal supplements. 

Drunkenness in Connecticut is based on blood alcohol content (BAC), as follows:
  • Drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher. 
  • Any vehicle requiring a commercial driver license with a BAC of .04 percent or higher. 
  • All drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher. 
 Penalties differ from state to state, but here they are pretty harse: 
  • First Conviction: Either (a) up to six months in prison with a mandatory minimum of two days or (b) up to six months suspended with probation requiring 100 hours of community service PLUS a $500- $1,000 fine, PLUS license suspension of 45 days, followed by one year driving only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock 
  • Second Conviction: Up to two years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 120 consecutive days and probation with 100 hours community service, a fine of $1,000- $4,000, license suspension for 45 days, followed by three years of driving only a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock 
  • Third and Subsequent Convictions: Up to three years in prison, with mandatory minimum of one year and probation with 100 hours community service, a $2,000- $8,000 fine and permanent evocation of your driver's license. (Eligible for reinstatement after six years. If reinstated, must drive only interlock-equipped vehicles for 10 years from date of reinstatement.) 
In addition to these penalties, the court can order a driver to participate in an alcohol education and treatment program. In all cases, the car will be towed and held for 48 hours -- even if it's a teenager driving and the only family car.  Good luck getting to work the next morning, Dad.

Total cost to driver: an estimated $18,000 just for the first conviction, mainly for the purchase, installation and monitoring of the interlock. 

That was one expensive bottle of wine! 

Fact:  Most times when a couple are stopped for DUI, the husband is driving drunk and the wife is sober.  Asked why she is not driving, she answers "well, he always does the driving and I thought he was okay."

On a lighter note, my  favourite tidbit of the night:the  bank robber who fled the scene and hid in an unmarked police car. True story.

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