It’s the holiday season. A time when all of us get together for parties, family events, light shows, and other holiday magic. It's also a time when people lubricate social events with booze, and thus it is not surprising that December has the highest DUI rate in the year.
The best advice I can give is if you go out, use Uber or Lyft. A $20.00 Uber is pennies compared to what a DUI charge does to your wallet and career. This blog explores why you are at a high risk of DUI and hopefully convinces you to use Uber or Lyft every single time.
I am going to let you in on a little secret: Anyone who drinks (even a light drinker) is at potential risk of being charged with a DUI no matter how responsible one thinks they are being. I have worked both as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. During that time, I attended court every day and handled thousands of criminal matters.
DUI is by far the most common charge and affects everyone in every social class. And there is a reason for this. Most of us are good people and don’t go around committing burglary or manslaughter. But most Americans also drink and own a car. And unless you take my advice and never go out without Uber or Lyft, I’d be willing to bet my life savings that you have driven under the influence. “Under the influence” means impaired to a degree that renders a person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle (NRS 484C.105) . Don’t get me wrong, most people do not knowingly drive under the influence. But the legal standard for driving under the influence is low and allusive. Let’s break this down.
First, it's a myth that you can’t get charged with a blood alcohol content lower than .08. In Nevada, you are presumed intoxicated at .08 (NRS 484C.020) but you can still be charged and convicted of a DUI even if your blood alcohol content is lower than .08. Nevada prohibits driving while intoxicated, which means the State need only prove you were too impaired to safely operate a vehicle. For instance, if you are swerving all over the road and blow a .07. The Officer who cites you with DUI could testify that your behavior is evidence that you were impaired to an unsafe level even though your content is below .08. Bottom line, the blood alcohol content is not a magical number that makes one innocent or guilty of the crime (the Uber/Lyft advice sounds even better huh?).
Second, do you carry a breathalyzer with you? While it is possible to be charged with DUI with a blood alcohol concentration lower than .08, the fact is that it isn’t very likely. Still, how do you have any idea what your blood alcohol concentration is? I do not have a degree in physiology, but after handling hundreds of DUI cases, I can tell you that being “intoxicated” is a different standard for everyone. Some can drink four beers and blow a .04. Others can have a single drink and be over the limit. Weight, how much food you eat, how much you exercise are all major physical factors. Even more allusive is the brain factor. What I mean by this is that in my experience it appears that not everyone feels intoxicated even with a higher blood alcohol concentration. I have witnessed people with an alcohol content of .10 or higher, who appear and feel completely sober. Thus, you might feel sober but are intoxicated by the State’s definition.
Third, alcohol also metabolizes through your body differently depending on the day, what you ate, or whether you exercised that day. Alcohol metabolizes slower with the more food in your stomach and quicker with less food. But eating more does not mean you will be less drunk; it only means you will take longer to become drunk. For an example, suppose you mow down two Philly Cheesesteaks and three beers. It's possible that when you leave the restaurant your blood alcohol content is below .08 but during the drive home, it increases past .08, and this happens all the time.
Bottom line, if you have been drinking, even just one drink, it is impossible to know if you are legally safe to drive. And alcohol, of course, impairs your ability to reason - making it much more difficult to know if you are drunk. I hope you understand that DUIs don’t just happen to drunks and that every time you drink, even a little, you are gambling with your wallet, career and most importantly, the safety and well-being of everyone.