The Penalties and Consequences of Driving Drunk

The Penalties and Consequences of Driving Drunk

May 5th, 2016 — Martinson Agency LLC — Chaska, MN

With just about everyone carrying a smart phone these days, you can understand why distracted driving has garnered so much attention. And for good reason, as according to government data, nearly 3,200 people were killed in 2014 in collisions where multitasking was to blame.

However, equally worthy of the public’s awareness is a behavior that leads to even more senseless deaths: driving impaired.

It’s estimated that 10,000 people per year are killed in alcohol-related car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s the equivalent of 1 every 51 minutes.

“Intoxicated driving offenses have fallen 80% over the last 40 years.”

Believe it or not, the rate has gone done over the years. Between 2007 and 2014, for instance, the proportion of drivers whose blood-alcohol levels were above the legal limit fell 30%, based on NHTSA estimates. And since 1973, the first time analysis was done on drunk driving prevalence, offenses have decreased by almost 80%.

All 50 states have ignition interlock laws Part of the reason for the decline stems from a national crackdown on the illegal activity. Today, all 50 states require at least some drunk driving offenders – typically those who’ve been caught more than once – to install ignition interlocks in their motor vehicles. These prevent drivers from operating their automobiles when under the influence. Since states first passed ignition interlock laws, nearly 1.8 million attempts at driving drunk have been avoided, according to numbers from social services organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Texas, Arizona, West Virginia and New Mexico have some of the stricter ignition interlock laws in the country, with added legislative efforts being made in other states as well.

Other major deterrents to drunk driving are the consequences that can result, none more significant than potentially being involved in a crash that could cause death or injury. Based on analysis from NHTSA, drivers whose blood alcohol level tests above 0.08 are four times more likely to crash than sober drivers. The chances are 12 times greater with an alcohol level of 0.15, twice the legal limit.

Drunk driving penalties can cost thousands

“The punishment for driving drunk varies depending on the state and gravity of the offense.”

Then there are the financial ramifications, which vary depending on the part of the country that it takes place. For example, in the District of Columbia, penalties after a first offense may include 180 days license suspension, not to mention a $1,000 fine. If caught a second time, the fine more than doubles to between $2,500 and $5,000. License revocation may also increase to a full calendar year.

The consequences related to auto insurance are equally damaging. Because drunk driving is a risk to safety, your premiums are bound to rise substantially. You may also be required to obtain special forms mandated by states before being allowed to drive again or register your car.

Dame Helen Mirren put it best – and rather bluntly – in a commercial at this year’s Super Bowl: If you drive drunk, stop it. The stakes are too high, the consequences too severe.

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