According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving claims 29 lives in the United States every day. While fatalities due to DUI have fallen by 33% in the last decade, drunk-driving crashes still claim 10,000 lives per year, with deaths and damages contributing to a cost of $44B per year.
Alcohol and a Person’s Driving Ability
To operate a vehicle properly and safely, you need sound reasoning, thinking, and muscle coordination. Alcohol impairs all these abilities. A legal drink drive limit is determined by your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. This is measured by a breathalyzer or via blood sample analysis; by the number of grams of alcohol in 100 ml of blood. In the United States, the legal limit is 0.8 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
There are several factors that can affect your blood alcohol concentration. These are some of them:
- Whether you are drinking on an empty stomach
- Your body fat percentage
- Your metabolic rate
- Whether you are male or female
- If you are tired
- If you are drinking quickly
- The percentage of alcohol in your drink
- The size of the container of the alcohol
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
The classification of a DUI differs per state, but they all have similarities. You may be charged with a DUI if you exhibit any of the following while operating a motor vehicle.
- You have a BAC of 0.8 or higher
- You are unable to safely control your motor vehicle
- You have noticeable impairment due to illegal or prescription drugs
DUI as a Federal Offense
A DUI becomes federal if it happens on federal property, such as military bases, post offices, government compounds, national parks, national monuments, parking lots on federal land, and some airports.
Here are federal laws that address DUIs:
Assimilative Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. §13). A person who committed a crime on federal land can be charged by the federal government using state laws, even when the crime has not been made punishable by the government.
Implied Consent (18 U.S.C. §3118). If you refuse to submit to a chemical test for BAC after being legally arrested for DUI on federal property, you may be subject for additional misdemeanor charge and be denied of the privilege to drive for year on federal land.
National Park Service laws (36 C.F.R. §4.23). It is considered a Class B misdemeanor to drive under the influence on land administered by the National Parks Service.
Uniform Code of Military Justice (Section 911: Art. 111). The military prohibits intoxicated operation of any vehicle, water vessel, or aircraft.
Penalties for Federal DUI
The consequences of a federal DUI are the same regardless of where the offense was committed. The penalties can be increased if the driver’s BAC went significantly over the limit, if the driver has prior DUI convictions, and if there was a passenger under the age of 14.
Federal penalties are the following:
- Up to six months incarceration in a federal prison
- Up to $5,000 worth of fines
- Up to five years probation
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