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dan cab killed by drunk driverNo one had a bad word to say about Daniel Conaway, a taxi driver known by south Scottsdale bar patrons as Dan Cab. Every night he plied the streets, making sure that drinkers got home safely after a night out. Friends said it was what he enjoyed doing.

Last October 23, life took a tragic turn for Conaway when a drunk driver veered into the opposing lane and crashed head-on into his cab. Conaway suffered severe injuries, and he died seventeen days later.

Conaway’s life and work did not go unnoticed. He was treasured for the joy and dedication that he brought to his work. Bars and restaurants in the city have been donating to his family.

It might seem like a fluke, an unbelievable coincidence that one of the city’s most cherished designated drivers should be killed by a drunk driver, but the sad fact is that it’s not nearly as unlikely as one might think. In 2014, more than 1.1 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. The number of people who escaped detection would have been much larger. Of the 30,000 people killed on the nation’s roads that year, about a third were alcohol-related.

So this sad event will remind us all that drunk driving wrecks lives and makes the world a sadder place. Certainly Scottsdale is a bit emptier for the loss of one of its finer citizens.

The donation page to help Daniel Conaway’s family is here. We can also help by carrying on Dan’s work in our own way: by driving sober, or by organizing a taxi or designated driver when going out, and by never, ever letting a friend drive under the influence.

Simple rules, and had they been followed, Dan Cab would still be with us.

arizona DUI follows you

Alcohol effects vary from person to person, but not from state to state. If you blow an .08 while visiting Arizona, you’re just as drunk as you would have been back home. And you’ll be in just as much trouble.

Out of state DUI offenders must face the same penalties: fines and, in the case of aggravated DUI, prison. If the charge is not serious, you might be able to have an attorney represent you so you won’t have to come back to Arizona for the hearing. If the case does go to trial, you will have to return to Arizona for the court date.

If jail is part of the penalty, you might have to arrange to do your jail term in your own state, provided that is allowed. Otherwise you’ll have to return to Arizona to serve your sentence.

Arizona DUI: Can’t I Just Blow it Off?

There’s always the temptation to skip out on the whole thing. What can they do if you’re not in Arizona, after all?

The answer is, plenty. If you don’t show up for court, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. They won’t send officers after you, but

  • If you show return to Arizona and have dealings with law enforcement (traffic ticket or traffic stop, etc.) you will be arrested.
  • If you have dealings with police in your own state, they can arrest you and notify Arizona to come and get you. Extradition is very common.

Arizona is a member of the Driver License Compact, under which states agree to help each other enforce their driving laws. The Compact was formed specifically to prevent people from escaping the consequences of traffic offenses by hopping state lines. 45 states belong to the compact, and even the one that do not are often helpful in bringing offenders in.

If you blow off your Arizona DUI you will probably be unable to renew your license in your home state. In short, it’s not worth it.

Arizona has a strict set of drunk driving laws, and the state is serious about keeping its roads safe. It’s very welcoming to tourists and visitors, so by all means drop by – but if you’re driving, keep that alcohol level to zero. If you don’t, the consequences will follow you wherever you end up.

In between serious stories about drunk driving and its consequences, a funny news item sometimes pops up about a DUI occurring on a vehicle besides a car or truck. People have been cited for drunk driving on riding mowers, Segways, tractors, even horses.

drunk-driving-memorialIt makes for amusing copy, but the items usually end with the warning that operating any vehicle drunk – from an ATV to a Zamboni – can be dangerous. A sad case in Prescott proves this.

A 54-year-old woman was driving her mother on a golf cart when she made a sharp turn and her mother fell out. The 75-year-old woman, who was seriously injured in the fall, died soon after.

The daughter’s blood alcohol level was .18, over twice the legal limit for intoxication in Arizona. This makes the case one of Extreme DWI, an offense which carries stiff penalties. Extreme DUI convictions result in a 1-year license revocation and, once driving resumes, the requirement to use an ignition interlock. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, will not allow a car or truck to operate if the driver has been drinking.

Had it been a simple DUI arrest, it would have made a good joke, complete with a golf-related pun in the headline.

But like too many drunk driving incidents, it ended in a real disaster.

For generations now, road safety organizations have been trying to get drivers to respect the motor vehicle and the damage it can do. Mostly we think of cars and trucks, but any mahine that moves faster than we can walk can be hard to control, and deserves our full attention. We can only give that attention if we are unimpaired.

No matter what you’re driving, you need to do it sober. No joke.

Every driver should know the legal level for drunkenness in a driver: a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of .08%, or .08 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of blood.

A-breathalyzer-can-accurately-measure-blood-alcoholBut an ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, doesn’t stick a needle in your arm and draw blood to test it. It gets the information it needs from your breath, and then shuts off the ignition if the driver has too much alcohol on his or her breath – usually more than .02 or .025.

How can your breath indicate what’s in your blood? The answer is something called Henry’s Law. In 1803 chemist William Henry discovered that the amount of alcohol that evaporates into the breath is proportional to the amount in the blood*. The greater the amount of alcohol, the greater the concentration of fumes that are emitted through evaporation.

An ignition interlock accurately measures the concentration on the breath, which comes from evaporation, and is then able to calculate the amount in the blood.

The Blood:Breath Ratio and Blood Alcohol

So, if the interlock device detects breath amount X, how does it calculate blood alcohol amount Y? The answer is the blood:breath ratio, which is generally considered 2300 to 1. That means for every 2300 units of alcohol in the blood, there will be one unit in the breath. Using this ratio, the interlock will calculate BAC, and if the number is too high, shut off the ignition.

That’s the science behind an ignition interlock. If you have one in your vehicle, all you need to know is that it works, and you can drive without any problem as long as you don’t drink first.

*Henry’s Law specifically states: “At a constant temperature, the amount of a given gas that dissolves in a given type and volume of liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid.”

odds of a dui crash increase at nightLet’s talk about odds for a minute. If you drive a vehicle, the odds are that you’ll get into some kind of collision every 17.9 years.  That’s at least four accidents over an average lifetime.

Of course, many factors can change your likelihood of a crash:

  • Driving while distracted
  • Speeding and other risky driving habits
  • Driving nights and weekends

And the big one:

  • Impairment

It goes without saying that if you drive drunk or drugged, your likelihood of a crash will skyrocket. But even if you don’t drink and drive, the presence of other drunk drivers on the road is a danger to you. And there’s not much you can do about them.

Except avoid them. The best way to beat the odds of a DUI crash is to be safe at home when the impaired drivers are out on the road, and fortunately, that’s not too difficult. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA), most fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers – 55 percent – happen between midnight and 3 a.m.

The second most dangerous time is 9pm to midnight, a time at which 36 percent of DUI crashes occur. Fewest – only 5 percent – happen 9 a.m. to noon. The reason for this discrepancy is obvious. In the morning hours the only ones under the influence are hard-core alcoholics and those who are still drunk from the night before. Most social drinkers are out in the evenings, and the wee hours are when those partying the hardest are on the way home.

As for the time of week, there too the evidence is clear: 15 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 30 percent on weekends.

So if you are the type to worry about harm that might come to you on the roads, make an effort to be home safe by midnight, especially on weekends. Next to staying sober at the wheel, it’s the best way to beat the odds.

 

Arizona-dui-on-thanksgivingIf you were stopped by a police officer and charged with a DWI in North Carolina, you already know how seriously the state takes drinking and driving. Back in 1983 North Carolina did away with specific drug and alcohol driving restrictions, and combined them into one offense called DWI – Driving While Impaired. If you blow a .08, or the officer judges that you were driving while impaired because of other evidence (smell of alcohol, behavior, poor driving), here is what you can expect to go through:

Revocation

First of all, your driver’s license will be revoked for 30 days. This happens automatically, before your trial. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below .15 when you were arrested, you might be able to apply for limited driving privileges after 10 days, depending on certain conditions and your record. An LDP license allows you to drive to work or school, and for other specific reasons such as a doctor’s appointment. Your attorney will help you get together the documents you need to apply for limited driving privileges. In order to get LDP after 10 days, you will need a DWI Substance Abuse Assessment. If you choose to wait 30 days, you won’t need the assessment unless you are convicted.

Assessment

You can choose an assessment in order to get your LDP license, or you can be ordered to have one after conviction. Basically it is a questionnaire designed to determine if you need treatment for an alcohol problem. You might need to attend drug education classes or, for a more serious problem, inpatient treatment.

Trial

At your trial your guilt or innocence of the charge of DWI will be determined. If you are convicted, the punishments vary depending on how many previous offenses you have, your BAC at the time of arrest, and other factors.  These punishments can include:

  • License revocation
  • Fines of $200 to $10,000
  • Imprisonment of 24 hours to 3 years
  • Community Service
  • Substance abuse assessment and treatment

Ignition Interlock

If you were convicted with a BAC of .15 or higher, you are considered a “high-risk” driver.  In that case, you must install an ignition interlock in every vehicle you operate. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. The interlock device will remain on the vehicle for at least one year, and you will be required to pay for installation as well as a monthly monitoring fee.

Under 21

Like many states, North Carolina does not allow people under 21 to drive with any alcohol in their system at all. If you are under 21 and register anything over zero on a breath or blood test, your license is immediately revoked for 30 days. If convicted, you will lose your license for a year.

So…

It’s clear that North Carolina is no place to drink and drive. An attorney will help you navigate the maze of laws and requirements, but it is worth noting that only about 20 percent of DWI cases in North Carolina are dismissed outright. Also, it is unlikely that you will be able to plead guilty of a lesser charge, as is common in some other states. Therefore, your DWI case will either be won or lost at trial.

In short, if you drink and drive in North Carolina the odds are against you, and the laws are tough. So if you’re planning on having some drinks, make the right decision and keep out of the drivers’s seat.

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