By: William C. Head, Board Certified DUI Lawyer and Drunk Driving Book Author, Atlanta GA
Drinking and driving facts are usually found on the Web for searchers seeking information about a public safety paper for high school or college. This page addresses issues of interest to accused drunk drivers and accused drugged drivers, and discusses legal anomalies and differences in the drunk driving laws around the United States.
Drunk Driving Book author William C. “Bubba” Head points out where the DUI-DWI laws are inexplicably contradictory.
Drunk Driving Facts in America – A List of 12 Odd and Illogical DUI Evidence and Legal Facts
- The United States does not have a national drunken driving law, like every other nation on earth.
- The field sobriety tests, developed with federal money for a study by a research group out of California in the 1970s and 1980s, are NOT correlated to driving impairment. The researchers were trying to target which drivers had a BAC level “above the legal alcohol limit,” but had a 47% false positive arrest rate in 1977, which means the trained officers were unable to do much better than 50-50.
- Initial state drunk driving laws were targeting only alcohol. DUI-drugs laws were enacted between 40 and 60 years later, in most states. No uniform laws or national standard exists for drugged driving.
- Drunk driving is a criminal law offense in Georgia and the other 49 States. A few states (NJ, WI) call their state’s crime a civil offense, but the consequences (including jail time) parallel the other states’ DUI laws.
- Having a prescription for one or more drugs does not give a “patient” permission to drive a vehicle, if the drugs have caused central nervous system impairment, which allows for his or her conviction for DUI drugs. Combining medications, or drugs and alcohol creates “combination DUI” by polydrug impairment.
- The term “drunk” is usually associated with alcohol, but every state has special laws dealing with drugged driving, operating a vehicle with any amount of marijuana in your system (or some established per se marijuana DUI statutory limit, as in Colorado and Washington) as well as making it illegal to huff volatile fumes from paint or glue, in order to get “high.”
- Field sobriety test evidence, as seen on most reality television programs about police in various communities enforcing drunk driving laws, were never correlated for drug-impairment, in a NHTSA study (or other research). In fact, the 2015 NHTSA study about DUI marijuana backfired, and showed marijuana users to be much safer than DUI alcohol drivers. Yet police routinely make arrests for DUI marijuana and other contraband drugs from “results” obtained from these highly unreliable roadside evaluations.
- All states now have a 0.08 grams percent “adult” BAC level for alcohol, which is one of the highest BAC levels for adults (ager 21 and over) in the world, but all American states allow the prosecutor to prosecute adult drivers whose BAC level for alcohol is below the legal limit, if egregious DUI case facts exist in the case (like an accident with injuries) and if this is due to the drinking driver. So, drunken driving is America’s only “crime of degree” whereby you can legally drink and drive if age 21 and over.
- DWI-DUI per se alcohol laws are separate provisions under a state’s DUI laws that permits the State to seek a conviction by an alternative means, for being over the legal alcohol limit, whether drunk or not.
- Although underage drinking laws commonly use the words “zero tolerance,” the majority of states use either a 0.02 grams percent BAC limit, or 0.01, and not 0.00 as their underage DUI-alcohol per se standard. Only about one in three states use 0.00 grams percent as their under 21 standard for DUI per se, due to the limitations of breath alcohol test equipment used by police.
- Although multiple controlled studies in other countries (and now including a 2015 study conducted by NHTSA in Colorado) indicate that drivers who have used marijuana are safer than those with even a moderate alcohol level, yet most states’ DUI-DWI-OWI laws punish DUI-drugs more punitively than for DUI-alcohol.
- The first DUI law in the United States was enacted in 1910. Until then, it was not a crime to drive intoxicated, or ride a horse while intoxicated.
When they learn the facts about drunken driving, many people charged with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of drugs are ready to fight a DUI, due to perceived unfairness, and overbroad laws on drinking and driving.
These facts about drunk driving laws highlight many of the antiquated and inequitable alcohol laws, and arbitrary passage of driving laws that create a permanent criminal record for those convicted of drunk driving. For this reason, the best DUI attorneys are among the highest paid sub-specialties for criminal defense attorneys in America.
Consult with the criminal defense attorney in Atlanta that is a Board-Certified DUI defense lawyer.