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High BAC a Factor in Most Fatal D.C. DUIs

by | Aug 22, 2012

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now reports that in 70 percent of alcohol-related driving fatalities, at least one driver had a blood alcohol content that was either 0.15 percent or higher.

The report, “Prevalence of High BAC in Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatal Crashes” was released earlier this month.

Washington D.C. DUI attorneys aren’t surprised by the finding. It makes sense that the more intoxicated you are, the more likely you might be to hurt someone or yourself in a crash.

The fact is, however, that the vast majority of people arrested for drunk driving aren’t highly intoxicated, nor are they repeat offenders.

Those whom the NHTSA noted to be the highest percentage of offenders with BACs that exceeded the 0.08 mark were between the ages of 21 and 24.

Many states and the District of Columbia have increased penalties for higher measurements of blood alcohol content. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, D.C. is among the more lenient. While most states tack on increased penalties for a BAC that’s either 0.15 percent to 0.17 percent (the legal limit across the board is 0.08 for non-commercial drivers over the age of 21), D.C.’s increased penalties don’t kick in until a person registers a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher.

If a person’s blood alcohol level is higher than 0.20 but less than 0.25, it will result in additional five-day jail sentence for your first offense. For your second offense, it’s an additional 10 days.

For a person whose BAC is over 0.25, it’s an additional 10-day penalty for a first-time offense. For a second offense, it’s an additional 20 days in jail.

Anyone who has a third or subsequent offense for a high BAC, they’ll serve an extra 15 days in jail.

And yet, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the district has the second-lowest percentage of drunk driving deaths in the country – ranking just below Utah.

D.C. legislators, perhaps more than those in other areas, may be somewhat reticent to enact stricter laws in this regard because they realize how faulty the measurements used as evidence can be. Here, police have only just this month regained the ability to once again begin using breathalyzer tests, following a host of cases that indicated the tests were not accurate and frequently skewed negatively against the defendant.

Particularly high BACs can be a key indicator that there is something wrong with the test. Hundreds of DUI cases across the country have been tossed after being challenged with regard to BAC measurements that, if accurate, would have more likely had the defendant in a coma than behind the wheel, even semi-functional.

Still, local and federal government entities continue to push for stricter DUI laws, both here in D.C. and throughout the country.

Obviously, the best way to avoid enhanced DUI penalties for a high BAC is to avoid drinking and driving altogether.

That said, you can often keep your BAC lower by pacing yourself. The following tips won’t help you avoid a DUI entirely (only abstaining from drinking will), but they may help you avoid becoming “super-drunk” :

  • Alternate between water and alcoholic beverages throughout your night;
  • Eat before you will go out drinking – particularly things like bread or pasta;
  • Dance (if you’re at a nightclub). Doing other things besides just drinking for several hours straight may help you curb the total number of drinks you consume.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-765-3175.