DUI- What Is It, How Does It Happen, and What Are the Consequences.

wrecked car and fire truck with police and fireman

It is an everyday occurrence—someone drinks alcohol or takes some drugs, gets behind the wheel of a car, and drives away. Sometimes the offender is caught— more often not. It is a danger every person faces every day, whether they realize it or not.

Impaired driving used to involve mostly alcohol.  However, with the legalization of marijuana in many places, the problem has increased and stems from a variety of sources.  Of course, alcohol still plays a large part in DUI cases but those who have prescriptions to legally use marijuana contribute to this pool in a very irresponsible way.  They feel they have the right to partake of this drug and then get in the car and go. 

Car wrecked by person who was driving under the influence

This is a worldwide problem and different areas may have different terminology for this offense such as drinking while intoxicated or operating while intoxicated.  In an online search for the key word “DUI” for the past week I found over 15 incidents that occurred in several different states.  One case involved a sheriff, and another was about a man who was riding a go-kart. 

The take-away lesson here is—DUI citation is not limited to automobiles.  A person can be arrested for driving under the influence while operating any type of motorized mode of transportation.  This includes boats, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and even motorized bicycles.  I’m sure it could even apply to hoverboards, especially if serious injury or death resulted from the incident.

Every person has a responsibility to prevent impaired driving.  Every person needs to stop and do an honest, thorough assessment as to whether they are fit to operate a vehicle before getting behind the wheel every time.  Additionally, anyone who observes another person who may be in a state that could lead to the injury or death of an innocent victim has the responsibility and obligation to take action to prevent that potential outcome.  Once somebody is dead, you can’t take that back.

totaled vehicle with police and paramedics

When I was a teenager, I ended up in a car with a driver who had been drinking way too much.  Not only that, but this individual was emotional because of a conflict she was having with someone else.  We started out to a destination about 20 minutes away.  She was all over the road, going way over the yellow line.  I was scared to death.  I didn’t think any of us were going to make it out of that car alive.

The problem of driving under the influence is huge.  Oftentimes, it starts out with a happy occasion and ends in tragedy.  A person goes out for a nice dinner or to a friend’s house to hang out.  A little too much imbibing occurs and then the impaired person drives home.  The problem with this is, the effect of the alcohol is not noticeable until it is too late.  Even just feeling a little lightheaded can result in disastrous results.

The way a person is affected can depend on a lot of factors—body weight, tolerance of alcohol, and medication being just a few.  Even antibiotics can change the way your body reacts to alcohol.  Just one drink can slow down reflexes and inhibit normal thinking ability.  This means that it could result in a driver not being able to stop in time to avoid a collision with another car— or a person.  Just imagine how you would feel if you killed someone because you made the poor choice of driving under the influence.

Paramedics at the back of an ambulance

DUI offenses do not only include individuals who are driving a vehicle while impaired.  Even just sitting behind the wheel of a car can get a person in a lot of trouble.  If the car is running or the engine is warm, a case could be made that the driver either was driving or intended to drive the vehicle.  In some cases, a person could be cited or arrested for just sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition—even if the car is not turned on.  It all depends on the circumstances.  This is really something to think about considering all of the consequences that could come about.

There are a lot of consequences that could potentially befall an individual who chooses to drive under the influence.  A wreck could occur and the vehicle could be a total loss.  Maybe the car is not completely totaled but no insurance company wants to insure the driver.  And if your boss finds out about it you may no longer have a job.  If you hold a certain type of professional certification, such as an RN license, you could lose that too.  Jail time may also be involved.

There are all kinds of fees that could be assessed related to impaired driving.  Community service activities may have to be performed as a part of the punishment as well.  Very frequently, drivers’ licenses are revoked or suspended.  Even if full or limited driving is allowed, a lot of hoops will have to be jumped through.  A camera and GPS may be required for the vehicle.  Not only that but a breathalyzer device may have to be installed in the vehicle.

ambulance and medical helicopter

These breathalyzer devices do not allow easy access to driving privileges.  A long, forceful breath must be blown into the mouthpiece in order for the assessment to process.  And don’t get caught in the middle of a circular highway on-ramp when the device decides it’s time for a test—because it happens randomly.  A test is required not only before the car will start but at other sporadic times as well.  The road that a person takes when driving under the influence is not a fun one.

So, please, don’t drive under the influence.  Before you get behind the wheel, think about the consequences.  Think about your family.  Think about the worst possible results that could come about.  And then think again.  Ask yourself- am I okay to drive?  If you have to ask, you probably aren’t.  My next article in this series will discuss the results of specific cases of impaired driving.  Hopefully, the experiences of others will help readers to make the right choices.

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