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Thursday, August 7 2014

Breathalyzers - Law Enforcement's Weapon Against DUI

When a police officer stops a driver because his behavior on the road may indicate that he has been drinking, he will ask him to do a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer test is rather quick and easy: the police officer will turn on the device and tell the driver to blow into it until the device signals to stop. The breathalyzer will display the result after several seconds. The officer will immediately know if the driver has been drinking.

The most common legal limits in the US are 0.05 and 0.08. The limits are lower for new and/or young drivers and persons operating commercial vehicles.

Breathalyser.jpgBut how does the breathalyzer work really? How can it tell the content of alcohol in the blood from one's breath? Well, the breathalyzer is able to display the results because the blood alcohol level and the amount of alcohol in someone's breath are related. By knowing how much alcohol a person has in their breath, it will easily calculate a quite accurate estimate of alcohol in their blood.

When a person drinks alcohol, the alcohol will dissolve in the person's blood. The liver will do most of the job when getting rid of it, but as the blood courses through the body, it will inevitably reach the lungs as well. Once the alcohol in that blood comes into contact with the air that we breathe in, it will evaporate and exit our lungs as we breathe out. The more alcohol a person ingests, the more alcohol will evaporate through the lungs, leading to higher results.

This is the exact alcohol that the breathalyzer analyzes. When a person who drank alcohol blows into the device, the alcohol in the breath causes a chemical reaction that generates an electrical current, which is then registered by the device. After the current is measured, the breathalyzer will display a result.

The result is an approximate value only - the only accurate way to measure blood alcohol level is through a blood test. The breathalyzer results are only approximates because there are some factors that contribute to their inaccuracy. These factors include a person's body temperature and cellular composition of blood. The quality and calibration of the breathalyzer also play an important role.

High quality breathalyzers will distinguish the difference between alcohol and similar substances that can be found in dietary supplements or in people who suffer from diabetes. Imagine a scenario where you get pulled over, take a test and get positive results even though you were not drinking - that would be a real nightmare. This could happen because you have used a strong mouthwash not so long ago.

Elevated body temperature is another issue - a person with elevated body temperature will have higher results because the alcohol will evaporate more rapidly in environments with higher temperature. People suffering from diabetes may have issues as well because there may be ketones present in their breath - a lower quality breathalyzer will not be able to distinguish between ketones and ethanol present in the breath of a person who drank alcohol, and it will display positive results. The percentage of white and red blood cells in the blood also differs from person to person - the variability in the ratio adds to accuracy issues, but the difference isn't high enough to be of any higher significance.

The breathalyzers the police uses are high quality and they will be able to distinguish between mouthwash and alcohol - you won't be able to fool them with the common "it's a strong gum" or "it could be my mouthwash" excuses.

Why Blood Alcohol Levels Matter

If a person drives a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is higher than the legal limit, they are considered unfit to operate their vehicle safely. Such drivers are endangering themselves and others. The legal limit of most countries is set at a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08. Most of those countries also have lower limits for young drivers and those who operate commercial vehicles. Everyone is aware that alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time, but what do various blood alcohol levels do to you? Let's take a look at how much alcohol really impairs you.

Drinking one beer doesn't really affect most people. Well, at least it seems so. Drinking one beer equals to having blood alcohol content of 0.010 to 0.029. The effects of alcohol are very subtle at such low levels and only specialized tests are able to confirm that a person has been drinking alcohol. As you continue to drink, you will become relaxed and quite cheerful. Such behavior of yours indicates that you will show a blood alcohol content of 0.030 to 0.059. You may find that even though it's not a good idea to do something, you'll do it anyways. This is because you aren't able to entirely control your inhibitions. You might also be more talkative, even euphoric. You will also find that it's a bit hard to concentrate.

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When you see someone at a party who is entirely out of control and does as he pleases, that person will have a blood alcohol content of approximately 0.06 to 0.09. The feelings of persons who drank so much are blunted and they are very extroverted. You might see them struggling with grabbing their beer or failing while playing darts or pool - this is because their depth perception and peripheral vision are impaired. Those people who appear quite boisterous and seem to be cheerful at one moment and angry the next one will measure approximately 0.10 to 0.19 of alcohol in their blood. Their speech will be slurred and they will probably also stagger. Some of them might suffer from mild alcohol poisoning at this stage.

Blood alcohol content up to this stage can be seen at parties quite a lot. Everything above it has more severe consequences - a person measuring 0.20 to 0.29 alcohol in their blood will have blackouts, impaired sensations and stupor. People with this BAC are at risk of falling unconscious and their motor skills are absolutely horrible. Blood alcohol content of 0.30 to 0.39 endangers a person's life. Their breathing and their heart rate is slowed. They will fall unconscious and they might even die. If you see someone passed out from alcohol at a party, call an ambulance instead of doodling on their face.

Blood alcohol content of 0.40 to 0.50 will end up in death of the person who drank so much if that person isn't rushed to the ambulance as soon as possible. Everything that is above 0.50 is considered a lethal dose.

Drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol isn't bad if done responsibly and on special occasions only. Drinking every day or binge drinking destroys your body and you are a threat to everyone around you, especially if you decide to drive while being in such a state. Be smart - avoid drinking if you are driving.

Why DWI Can Be A Death Sentence

Drinking and driving is one of the most irresponsible things a driver can do. An intoxicated driver is a threat to himself and others. Every year, thousands of innocent people are killed because of drunk drivers. Even harsh punishments for drunk driving don't seem to bother some of them. Driving too fast through a haze with impaired judgment is a formula for a disaster waiting to happen. A drunk driver is unable to realize just how sluggish his reactions are. Investigations have revealed that there is a concerning number of DUI accidents where the drivers crashed full speed and never even hit the brakes. This fact is discouraging.

Anyone who decides to drive after drinking alcohol disregards the safety of others. A fraction of a second is enough for things to go wrong. An innocent life is extinguished in a second. Drunk drivers wreck lives. Receiving a call that is telling you that your loved one is being rushed into a hospital because they were involved in a crash is one of the worst things imaginable. It wasn't even their fault. A drunk behind the wheel hit them without ever trying to avoid the accident. Worst case scenario? The drunk driver lives while your loved one dies.

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Zack Davis died because of a drunk driver. He was only 11 years old. His mother Angie Bass was dropping him off at school when a drunk driver who was travelling at 85 mph hit their car, leaving both Zack and Angie with critical injuries. He hit a second car before coming to a full stop. Zack died the next day. The driver? He lived. This wasn't his first DUI.

How could you ever forgive that person? Imagine being that person - imagine killing someone because you were so drunk you could barely walk, let alone drive. And you decided to drive anyway. There is nothing you can do to undo the pain and suffering you inflicted upon the family of your victim. Nothing. Maybe they will be able to forgive you. Often times they won't; they will hate you, loathe you and despise you as long as you're alive, maybe even longer than that.

Jean Dyess died on Halloween of 2010 when she and her mother in law were trick or treating in the neighborhood with her children and their friends. Just as they were passing the street, they heard revving of an engine. A truck came rushing at them. Jean managed to push the kids out of the way at the last moment, while her mother in law pulled the rest of them away from the truck. The truck driver hit Jean and dragged her several feet before she broke free. The driver stopped, but after realizing what he did, he quickly drove away. Jean died later that day. The driver was found two weeks later and convicted of manslaughter. This didn't bring Jean back, though. Her children lost their mother, and nothing can bring her back.

Imagine doing this to someone. Could you live with yourself after killing someone? Could you forgive yourself? Do you want to become that person? No? Then leave your car keys at home if you plan to drink.

Avoid Drunk Driving At All Costs

Everyone has seen those "don't drink and drive ads", but most people have been driving under the influence at least once in their lives. Drunk drivers are a major threat to everyone on the road, which is why it's important to avoid driving under the influence at all costs.

Young drivers are most vulnerable, as they often go to parties, and even though they didn't plan on drinking, they may end up having a drink or two because of peer pressure. The law usually enforces zero tolerance on blood alcohol level in young drivers, and those who are caught while driving under the influence may end up without their license, car, money and doing community service.

Those are the least severe consequences one can receive if being caught. If you were also involved in a crash where people were injured or property was damaged, you will receive a harsher punishment.

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All of the above mentioned facts give you quite good reasons to avoid drunk driving. Here are some tips on how to avoid drinking when you are driving. These tips should aid you in avoiding unnecessary risk.

Most people like to have a designated driver when they go to parties. If you are planning to go to a party, try finding a friend who will skip drinking alcohol for the night so he can drive you home safely. If nobody wants to do this, try asking some of your friends who didn't go to the party. You should also consider asking your family, be it siblings or parents - they may not be overly happy about you drinking at a party, but they will be pleased to see that you are responsible enough to take care of yourself.

If you can't find anyone you know to drive you home safely, call a taxi service. Make sure to save their number before you go to the party and put them on speed dial too. It will be much easier to reach them once you are in need of their services. Your can also split the cost by travelling home with some friends. Some taxi services allow you to choose whether you want a male or female taxi driver, which is a great thing for women.

Speed dial is a good idea whether you plan to call a taxi or not. Putting someone you can trust on speed dial helps if you drink too much and aren't able to get home safely. A template message that you can send with just a few pushes of a button might save your night as well.

If you notice that someone at the party is too drunk to drive, don't hesitate to take their car keys away. They might become angered if you do so, but it's for their own good. If you don't know the person, find their friends and urge them to take the keys. Should you see a drunk driver on the road, report it to the police immediately. The driver will not be pleased, but he will not be a danger to himself and others anymore.

By following these tips, you will be ready for any party.

Why DUI Florida Is A Bad Idea

The state of Florida has very harsh penalties for driving under the influence. This isn't surprising when you look at the numbers: every year, thousands of people become victims of drunk drivers in the state of Florida. Property damages, injuries, even DUI related manslaughter happens too often.

Consecutive DUI arrests lead to harsher punishments. Having a second DUI conviction within five years of the first one, and having a third conviction within ten years of the second one brings additional penalties, such as a license being revoked for 10 years. This doesn't leave much room for trying to be sneaky and drinking a beer or two if you were already caught once. Even the first conviction will leave you with an empty wallet - you will have to pay $500 to $1000 of fines, do 50 hours of community service and your license might be revoked for up to a year. The punishment becomes more severe if you had a blood alcohol content of 0.15 - the fines are doubled, the jail time sentence might be prolonged to 9 months. The same harsher punishment applies if you had a minor in your car while driving under the influence.

If you are caught a second time, you will have to pay $1000 to $2000 in fines and you might have to serve 9 months in jail. Should you have more than 0.15 of alcohol in your blood or a minor was with you in the car while you were caught, the fines are doubled and the jail time is extended to 12 months.

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The third conviction is even more severe: the fines of $2000 to $5000 and 30 days of mandatory jail time. A minor in the vehicle or having more than 0.15 of BAC will again bring higher fines and extended jail time. Should you aim for the magic number of four or more convictions, you will be charged with a third degree felony.

All of the above mentioned are the lowest possible punishments you can be charged with - should you damage property, injure or kill someone, you will face much harsher punishments. Should you kill someone, you will be charged with a second degree felony - you will face jail time up to 15 years and fines of $10,000 or more. If you caused property damage or injured someone, you will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which will add $1000 dollars to your fines and up to a year of jail time.

If you didn't cause any injuries or damage, you still have a chance to lower your punishment considerably - a good lawyer can help you with that on court. You are also able to plea to get your license back. It's easiest to completely drop charges if this was your first conviction. Every consecutive conviction will be harder to avoid. The 100% proof option to avoid any convictions is not driving if you have been drinking alcohol, especially if you are a young driver, as many states have zero tolerance for young drivers and you might lose your license over one beer.