DWI or driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired, which refers to driving while impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs (illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs), is a serious crime. In all U.S. states, to specifically address the very old problem of intoxicated driving, the U.S. Congress lowered the national illegal limit for impaired driving to 0.08%; the year was 2000. Prior to this, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit was 0.15% (since 1938).
To further reduce drunk or drugged driving incidences, some authoritative bodies have been empowered to still lower BAC limits, as well as impose more severe penalties on offenders. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), for instance, has mandated a 0.04% BAC limit for commercial vehicle drivers, such as those driving a truck, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set a zero tolerance level for those below the age of 21.
Many states have also become stricter in enforcing anti-drunk driving laws, setting up of more sobriety check points and becoming more observant of signs of drunk driving. Police officers also have the authority to stop a driver suspected of being impaired and require him/her to undergo some tests, like standing on one leg, walking on a straight line, or submitting to a breathalyzer test.
Professional-grade breathalyzer devices, such as those used by law enforcers for roadside alcohol testing, are acknowledged as highly accurate and sensitive. However, there are important factors that enforcers need to consider when using these devices on suspected drunk drivers:
These breathalyzers require periodic calibration in order to maintain accurate reading; failure to calibrate these regularly can affect BAC analysis.
Breathalyzers can definitely measure alcohol which is present in alcoholic drinks; however, it will also give measurable BAC readings if one consumes food cooked in alcohol, or uses substances that contain small amounts of alcohol, like toothache medicines and mouthwash.
Acetone, which cab be detected in the breath of those on high protein diets and those with diabetes, and other compounds that have a molecular structure similar to alcohol, may result to BAC readings. Besides these, adhesives, plastics, varnish, paint fumes, and cleaning chemicals with rubbing alcohol, can also produce false BAC results.
Impairment, which is the effect of alcohol and the real root of danger for both the impaired driver and all others on the road, is the major reason why drinking and driving is strictly prohibited under federal and state laws. But, while this may be a totally acceptable reason for apprehending and charging offenders, one main issue that has led to so many legal concerns is the overzealousness of some enforcers which has, in a number of instances, resulted to the unreasonable arrest of many individuals.
A driving while intoxicated conviction can be life-altering, often resulting in license suspension, substantial fines, probation, prison time and serious personal and professional consequences that can be exceedingly difficult to overcome. To save your future from getting ruined due to a minor mistake (on your part), it might be essential to seek the services of a highly-competent lawyer for your defense.