“Don’t drink and drive!” It’s a mantra you hear everywhere, from driver’s ed to billboards and your friends and family. Well, it looks like the numbers are headed in the right direction, as drunk driving arrests and convictions are down compared to previous years. But we still need to be reminded: Don’t.
I can give you an interesting perpsective on drinking and driving, at least in Michigan. I have never been arrested for it but I have represented quite a few people who have been. I don’t advertise that I handle these cases but somehow—perhaps because they involve cars—they find me.
Drinking and driving is an ugly proposition on two counts.
1.) The fines, costs and points will shock you. After spending money on an attorney, the court will hand you a bill for a few thousand dollars and then your insurance company will do the same - assuming they don’t cancel you.
2.) Your right to drive will be curtailed if not taken away completely. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to get around in America without a driver’s license. And yes, I’ve seen quite a few drivers dragged back into court for driving without a license. The ugly getting uglier...
The good news? All this preaching by various groups, the media and attorneys appears to have had a positive impact on the numbers, at least in Michigan. According to 2014 statistics collected by the Michigan State Police, drunk driving arrests and convictions have dropped by more than a third in the last ten years, and more than 15 percent in the last five. At the national level, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is down as well although “impaired” driving influenced by marijuana or other drugs is unfortunately up.
For those who study the numbers, there are still a few issues. Of every four convictions, three were men. And when an accident involved alcohol, the severity of the injuries increased. And of the 30,000 or so traffic deaths that happen in America every year, a third of those involve an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the CDC.
On the other hand, more than 20 percent of the drivers given a breathalyzer or having their blood drawn blew a 0.0. That is, they were was sober as the day is long and a police officer still felt the need to test them. It proves that none of this, at least up until the lab tests get involved, is an exact science. Then again as the overall numbers decline, police must be doing something right.
So please don’t drink and drive. You really can’t afford it and you’ll be doing everyone a favor—including yourself.
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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 24 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.
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