Posted by on Jul 18, 2015 in Crimes | 0 comments

For millions of Americans, driving while under the influence of narcotics or alcohol is illegal and totally unacceptable because of the big risk it puts other motorists and pedestrians into. Even long before actually getting to sit behind the wheel of their own car, these drivers, while still children, have already learned that drinking and driving is a very dangerous combination.

Barron H. Lerner, MD, PhD, who practices internal medicine, teaches medical ethics, is a historian and an acclaimed author, is the writer of One for the Road, a book that takes a look at the grassroots of drunk driving in the US. According to him, love of drinking and love of driving of Americans are both implanted in the nation’s culture. This explains why, despite stricter laws, harsher punishments and heavier fines, so many Americans still drive while under the influence.

In 2012 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported about 10,322 individuals killed in motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol- impaired drivers. Two years prior to this, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested after they were found intoxicated either by alcohol or illegal drugs.

The present blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers in all US states is 0.08%, while for drivers below the age of 21, a No Tolerance policy, which mandates that no traces of alcohol should be found in their blood system while they are driving, is in effect (the leading cause of death among teens is traffic accident, with about a third of it being due to alcohol or drug intoxication). Punishment for violators can mean costly fines, jail term of loss of license.

Though a 0.08% BAC limit is already low, Lerner, while writing his book, endeavored to understand more the meaning of blood alcohol level. To arrive at the same conclusions reached by traffic enforcers, he bought a Breathalyzer and tested his BAC after consuming three shots of vodka (on an empty stomach) within an hour. Though his BAC only read 0.05%, he felt intoxicated and his speech was garbled. He knew that had he hit the road, he would not be able to drive safely, especially in the event of an unexpected road obstacle.

The law considers drunk driving as a grave act of negligence, much more so if someone gets injured or killed. Drivers who will be found intoxicated will be charged with DUI, or driving under the influence, a serious crime in all US states. Depending on the BAC level or if anyone is hurt in the accident, the punishments become heavier and the fines, more expensive; there are also the possibility of the court ordering that an ignition interlock be installed inside the driver’s vehicle and the acquisition of an SR-22.

DUI is a serious matter that no American would want to be charged with. However, one has to understand that by taking the wheel even when intoxicated will remain to be an illegal and totally unacceptable driving behavior.

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