DWI, DUI, And BAC: Three Deadly Acronyms
DWI – Driving While Intoxicated.
DUI – Driving Under the Influence (of alcohol or drugs).
BAC – Blood Alcohol Concentration (or Content).
These three acronyms form a deadly combination. The main links between the three are alcohol and driving. It is well documented that drinking alcohol impairs judgment, slows reaction time, and decreases coordination. When a person is DWI or DUI, he or she is piloting a one-ton time bomb with little control over it. Is it speeding towards you?
These three acronyms have legal ramifications too. DUI and DWI are criminal offenses. To determine if a DWI or DUI offense has been committed, it is necessary to measure how much alcohol was consumed by the suspect driver (the BAC).
In the field, police officers utilize tests to determine the amount of a driver’s impairment due to alcohol. Such tests include, but are not limited to, breath alcohol tests and field sobriety tests. The breath test is further discussed in this article.
A person’s reaction to alcohol varies widely. Some factors that affect alcohol impairment include gender, body weight, time of last meal, time of day, alcohol tolerance, medications, genetics, rate of alcohol consumption, and many more.
A police officer stopping a suspected drunk driver has visual, olfactory (smell), and breath tests to judge a person’s impairment from alcohol. The officer must make some kind of quantitative determination of the amount of alcohol impairment at the time of the stop. All the factors mentioned above do not matter to the officer. All he or she wants to do is to create a “snapshot” of the degree of impairment.
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood, expressed as a percentage by volume. This can be measured precisely by taking a sample of the driver’s blood for analysis. In the U.S., a BAC level of 0.08% (commonly written as.08) or more is considered illegal. However, the officer on patrol certainly doesn’t have a medical lab in the car, and must rely on a breath testing device.
The brand name Breathalyzer is often used generically to describe devices that measure blood alcohol concentration. This type of breath analyzer does not actually measure the concentration of alcohol in the blood. Instead, the reading on the breath analyzer is only an estimate of the alcohol in the blood.
Correlations between the amount of alcohol in the blood and the resulting amount of alcohol in the breath have been made. The tests show the ratio to be approximately 2100 (in the blood) to about 1 (in the breath), or 2100:1. Based on factors listed above, a person’s blood: breath alcohol ratio can vary from 1700:1 to 2400:1.
In simpler terms, if an average person has 2100 drops of alcohol in the blood, the breath tester will show a reading of 1 drop. Doctors have measured the blood and breath alcohol contents of test subjects simultaneously, allowing them to calculate the relationship between alcohol in the blood and alcohol in the breath.
When a drunk driving suspect blows into the breath alcohol tester, the machine measures the alcohol in the breath. The machine then calculates the amount of alcohol in the blood by using a blood: breath alcohol ratio. This calculation of BAC is only an estimate. However, that estimate is what goes on the police report and is what the judge will see.
The next time you have consumed alcohol and feel like you are not impaired to drive, remember these points. First, your confidence may be simply alcohol-induced euphoria. Second, your life and the lives of those you drive near may all depend on what the little breath machine thinks is normal. Are you willing to bet your freedom on the opinion of some fancy calculator? Me neither. Be safe!
What is the Difference Between a DUI and DWI?
A first time DUI offense in Virginia obviously carries the lowest amount of penalties, but even so, they are more than a slap on a wrist. If convicted of a Virginia DUI, you will face:
• Administrative License Suspension - automatic suspension of your driver's license for 7 days if your blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
• Class 1 misdemeanor - mandatory minimum fine of $250 up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail for DUI charges with BAC less than 0.15%
• Class 1 misdemeanor charges increased to mandatory 5 days minimum with BAC between 0.15 and 0.20%
• Class 1 misdemeanor charges increased to mandatory 10 days minimum with BAC higher than 0.20%
• License Suspension - license revoked for 1 year; eligible for immediate Restricted Operator's License; Ignition Interlock required for BAC of 0.15% or higher.
A second DUI offense in Virginia now takes into consideration when your first offense occurred and adjusts the penalties accordingly. If your second Virginia DUI offense came within less than 5 years of a prior DUI offense, your minimum penalties may include:
Second and third DUI convictions come with a mandatory 3-year license suspension and the installation of an Ignition Interlock system in your vehicle to prevent operation while intoxicated. A fourth Virginia DUI conviction results in your license being revoked indefinitely.
With each conviction the penalties change, so knowing Virginia's minimum penalties for your conviction is a good way to work toward the lowest sentence possible. An experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney can help you understand the minimum charges you face and work toward meeting those levels.
What is the Difference Between a DUI and DWI?
Driving under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is one of the most serious driving offenses in the United States of America. Although there are several driving offenses, the charge of DUI/DWI results in serious consequences and is likely to have grave implications on your future. Driving with a blood alcohol level of or above 0.08 % is a crime and your driver's license can be revoked or suspended if you are found guilty. It can also make life costly and difficult through increased insurance costs and hefty fines.
The United States takes the DUI/DWI offense very seriously. Drink Driving in states like California are set forth by a statute and California DUI Law can be incredibly complex. The consequences vary with different circumstances and in different states. But the basic punishment under the DUI law tends to remain almost the same.
Besides the above mentioned, there are other circumstances that will make your punishment even harsher - if you are speeding while driving under the influence, if you have a child in the car, refusing to comply with the tests when asked, damage, injury, accident and loss of life. The greater the alcohol content, the greater the penalty under the DUI Law. If you are under age and have prior convictions for the same offense can also lead to immense problems.
If you are a first-time offender, you may end up with a fine, possible jail time or community service with a suspension of your license under the DUI Law. You may be asked to attend, compulsorily an alcohol education program to avoid further such occurrences. In the event that you are a repeat offender, hefty fines and jail time is ensured. Your participation in the alcohol abuse program will also be longer and mandatory; moreover your license will be suspended or revoked and vehicle impounded.
- Whether your constitutional rights have been breached
- Whether the officer concerned followed the correct procedures
- Whether you were read your rights when the officer made the DUI/DWI arrest
- Whether the blood and alcohol level tests were properly carried out
- Whether the equipment used to monitor blood alcohol levels was maintained and in good working order
The charge for drunk driving is an extremely serious offense. The consequences not only affect you for that moment but the charges will remain on your record permanently. It is thus important that you choose your lawyer wisely to fight your DUI/DWI case as it can affect your entire life and lifestyle forever. Many cases of DUI/DWI get dismissed by experienced DWI lawyers on simple technicalities. An experienced legal expert in this field of DUI Law will know exactly what to look out for, and will be aware of the various loopholes that can mean the difference between a successful charge or dismissal of charges.