December 31, 2014

The Problem with DUI Prevention Advertising and A Common Sense Suggestion to End DUIs, Part 2

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Before proceeding with more on my suggestion to have breath alcohol machines in all establishments that serve alcohol, I need to make it clear that the safest decision is to not drive when you are going to drink. No matter what amount you drink, no matter how much time should elapse between drinking and driving- don't do it. Your lawyer may or not be able to defend your case, but your Constitutional rights are second to your health. Another concern is avoiding a DUI stop and arrest which is supremely unpleasant even if found unjustified later.

My suggestion is to put breath alcohol machines in every establishment that serves alcohol. This can be equated with fire suppression equipment, or perhaps managed through Department of Health procedures. The machine must be operational and either located near the exit, or in a more discrete location- perhaps near the bathrooms. Use of the device must be free to patrons, and should be encouraged for everyone to use. This can be part of the liquor licensing process, with maintenance checks to make sure the machines are calibrated and working properly.

This will serve two purposes- first, the patron will have an idea of where his BAC is when they are leaving. This will help the drinker make an educated decision to drive or not. Second, it will help the person, driving or just using the machine for their own curiosity, understand what that particular BAC feels like. For instance, Patron X feels "okay," or "good to drive." He had a couple drinks, then waited 45 minutes to an hour, and is now getting ready to leave. Upon using the BAC machine, he may recognize that they are a .09% BAC. Surprised or otherwise, it will allow the patron to understand and examine what .09% BAC feels like when he had that many drinks and waited so long.

Patron X will also have an understanding of what .09% BAC feels like. He will begin to learn how much certain drinks (especially mixed drinks, with bartenders that can have a heavy hand) affect their BAC. Also, he or she can acquire the understanding that waiting can be successful, but usually requires more time to wait. For instance, the state's alcohol forensic experts will testify that burnoff (the human body processing the alcohol and thus reducing the effects) occurs at .015% to .02% per hour.

Next time Patron X is at a party, he can also have the same understanding of the alcohol they drank compared to their BAC at the bar last time. If these machines are required to be in every bar, restaurant or lounge, Patron X will have a greater understanding of both how individual drinks affects him/her, and what that specific BAC feels like at different times of their drinking. Again, a .09% just after drinking in a rising BAC will feel different than a .09% in a declining BAC many hours later (the Mellanby Effect).

This solution can be attached to an establishment's liqueur license. If we truly care about stopping drinking and driving, this solution goes to the core of the problem- helping the driver understand when he or she is impaired. While district attorneys make the same opening statement in trial- "Patron X made a decision to drive," the district attorney can not say, "Patron X made an educated decision to drive." More likely than not it was an uninformed, regretful decision that was made.

Please feel free to post a response or suggest your own idea. As always, if a regretful, uninformed decision to drive was made, and you or someone you know is facing DUI charges, I can always be reached for a free consultation.


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The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired.
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