A new recommendation to lower the legal blood-alcohol limit in Michigan and the rest of the U.S. from 0.08 to 0.05 has sparked a debate about how to reduce the number of car accidents and fatalities caused by drinking and driving. While some say that even stricter limits on how much we are allowed to drink before getting behind the wheel will reduce accidents, others believe that doing so will have little effect on safety and will needlessly increase the number of DUI arrests.
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that states lower the allowable blood-alcohol concentration for drunk driving from .08 to .05. The board said that thousands of people are killed or injured each year by people who are below the legal standard for being drunk, but nonetheless have a reduced ability to operate a vehicle. The board reported that at .05 the risk of having an accident is increased by 39%, and at .08 the risk is increased by more than 100%. The standard in most of the industrialized world is .05. When Australia reduced its BAC level from .08 to .05, provinces reported reduced traffic fatalities ranging from 5-18%.
Detroit Lions fans in Lansing probably remember Titus Young, a wide receiver who spent two years with the team before the Lions cut him in February. Young is now facing charges of drunk driving based on a recent midnight traffic stop. He is also accused of trying to sneak into the impound lot to retrieve his car.
Criminals can be anyone - doctors, teachers and even the police. The truth: everyone can have a run-in with the law. Furthermore, it does not matter who you are; the charges generally carry the same consequences for everyone. For example, a Michigan officer was recently charged with drunk driving.
An Oakland County district court judge will make a decision by the end of this week on whether to exclude key evidence in the drunk driving arrest of a Macomb County judge's girlfriend. The case raises interesting evidentiary issues. The defense attorney is arguing that the arresting officer lacked probable cause to investigate the defendant because the police received a second-hand "tip" that she was drunk driving, which is insufficient to support the stop.
A bill to reset the blood-alcohol limit for drivers in Michigan at 0.08 passed the state House on March 20 by a unanimous vote. Besides arguments from law enforcement agencies and organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers that reducing the legal limit from 0.10 to 0.08 has reduced the number of DUI accidents in Michigan, legislators likely also felt pressure from the federal government to continue to conform to the 0.08 standard.
In Michigan as in virtually every other state, it is against the law to drive while under the influence of marijuana. But drivers across the country are finding themselves being arrested and convicted of impaired driving even when they are sober -- and even when their marijuana use was not illegal.
Courts in many states are empowered to order defendants in some DUI cases to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. For example, Michigan law allows ignition interlocks as a possible part of the sentence for repeat DUI offenses, which is defined as two convictions within seven years, three within 10 years or three or more suspended driver's license convictions within seven years.
Under Michigan drunk-driving law, repeat offenders face possible lifetime revocation of their driver's licenses. For example, second offenders lose their license for at least one year, and can only regain driving privileges upon being approved by a hearing officer after a review hearing. If a person had two prior convictions, the review might not occur until after a 5-year period of revocation. Also, there is no guarantee after a review hearing that the person will get their license back, and if they are denied they have to wait another one-year period, for a further review.
An Indianapolis man was recently pulled over and arrested for drunk driving while cruising alongside an Indiana highway-- on a motorized shopping scooter from Walmart. There were a couple of problems with what the driver was doing-- the scooter was barely visible to motorists while driving north in southbound lanes, the scooter was not allowed off of Walmart property (which was four miles away), and the operator was drunk.