Monitech

Tag: Drunk Driving

After a DUI conviction in North Carolina, you license will be suspended for 45 days, during which it is illegal for you to operate a vehicle.  After you serve that suspension, you can apply for limited driving privileges which allow you to drive to work and for essential things such as child care and medical appointments.  

It’s important to note that in addition to applying for the limited driving license with the DMV, you will be required to enroll in and complete a substance abuse evaluation, call your insurance company for a special statement of financial responsibility (called an SR-22 certificate) and, in  some instances, install an ignition interlock in the vehicle you drive. Monitech is headquartered in North Carolina and has been providing residents with reliable interlock devices for over 30 years. Our dedicated state experts can help you with every step of the program, from finding out if you need an interlock to installation, monitoring and license recovery.  

The specific laws related to ignition interlocks can be found in the North Carolina Statutes.  You should ask questions to make sure you understand all the requirements to get you back on the road safely and legally.  

For more general information about alcohol impaired driving arrests in North Carolina, here’s a great article from the Charlotte Observer.   

 

american-drunk-drivers

How many American drunk drivers are there? It’s a tricky question to answer, since we usually hear only about the ones who are arrested. There are many more who don’t make it into the news, even though they are guilty of the same crime.

The Centers for Disease Control did a survey to find out how many adults admitted to driving drunk during a given month. The answer was chilling: an estimated 4.2 million adults said they had driven while impaired by alcohol.  Multiply that by 12, and you get 121 million episodes of drunk driving each year.

That doesn’t give us the number of people who drive drunk – many of those episodes will be repeats by the same drivers. A more conservative, but still chilling, estimate was proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a survey they did. They found that 8 percent of drivers, or 17 million Americans, admitted to driving under the influence that year (2008).

Country of the Drunk Drivers

If all American drunk drivers – those who admitted to NHTSA that they drove impaired – were given their own country to live in, what would it look like? For one thing, the population would larger than quite a few countries, among them Belgium, Greece, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Portugal, and Sweden.

It would not only be large, it would be dangerous. On any particular day, 46,500 people would be driving drunk.

Here’s the strange thing: about 80 percent of females and three-quarters of males in that fully-drunk-driving population thought that driving under the influence was a threat to their safety and the safety of others.  But that didn’t stop them from doing it.

And why do fewer males believe that drunk driving is dangerous?

Of course, there is no country of drunk drivers – those 17 million people are scattered all over the United States. Most of them get away with their crime – at least for a while – but a still-staggering number cause injury and death, and still more are arrested before they have a chance to do harm. We have to deal with them in our country, by catching them, punishing them, preventing further offenses with ignition interlocks, and when possible, by educating them to choose alternatives like designated drivers.

But the best thing we can all do for the Country of Drunk Drivers is not to visit it – ever.

repeat-dui-offenders-arizona

A recent arrest in Arizona highlights one of the problems that states have with their DUI laws: creating  ones that keep repeat offenders off the road. In El Mirage a man was arrested for his fourth DUI, just five days after pleading guilty to his third.

Repeat drunk driving is a complex problem, partly because it’s not the whole problem. A study by the American Psychological Association noted that repeat drunk driving is part of a larger pattern which often includes other crimes and disorders. This condition – what psychiatrists called psychiatric comorbidity – is the reason that measure that punish drunk driving on its own don’t always work.

Ignition interlocks have a good record of reducing recidivism because they don’t work by punishing the offender, but by disabling the vehicle directly if the driver has been drinking. Many offenders, faced with this obstacle, re-evaluate their life choices and stop driving drunk.

Repeat Offenders Have Multiple Issues

There are persistent repeat offenders, and they must be dealt with differently, because they are very different people. The problems that lead to repeat drunk driving need to be addressed. In the study by doctors from Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, repeat DUI offenders were placed in a 2-week in-patient treatment program. The program addressed not only alcohol abuse and dependence but also depression, gambling disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD, attention deficit disorder, and other conditions.

Then came the work: lengthy treatment and follow-up. The result was that within a year, only 2.6 percent of the group had been arrested for another DUI. Within 5 years, only 7.5 percent had.

The Role of Ignition Interlocks

Ignition interlocks play a vital role in preventing first DUI offenders from becoming repeat offenders.  Extensive research has shown that the devices save lives by keeping drunk drivers off the road. While they work on their own, they are even more effective when part of a sobriety court or other program that includes treatment for the issues that accompany drunk driving behavior. Only when all-offender ignition interlock laws are accompanied by thorough mental health treatment will we make headway with serious repeat DUI offenders.

second-degree-murder-dui

We know that drunk drivers cause deaths all the time – some 30,000 each year in this country. But is that murder? According to the law books in many states, it is – of a sort. A recent case in Winston-Salem shows that a murder charge is a definite possibility if you kill someone while driving drunk in North Carolina.

Last year, according to news reports, Roberto Jose Lemus Martinez was driving drunk the wrong way on U.S. 52. Police reports say he crashed his SUV into a Camry with three people in it. Jean Lawrence High, 80, was killed in the crash. Recently Martinez was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder for his role in High’s death.

Second-Degree Murder: Yes, It’s Intentional

First-degree murder is a charge we all know well from Law & Order: intentional, premeditated, with malice aforethought. The grand jury, however, is not saying that this crime was premeditated.

Second-degree murder is intentional, though, and with malice aforethought. One might wonder why killing someone while driving drunk would be considered an intentional crime. The offender doesn’t start out with the intention of killing another person. But the fact is, impaired driving is a conscious decision, one that disregards the well-known dangers to others on the road. You can’t get behind the wheel while drunk and claim that you don’t intend to do others harm – it’s obvious to everyone that drunk driving ends up doing harm every day. The legal definition of “malice” includes an utter disregard for another’s welfare.

Different states’ laws use different language – some call it “extreme  indifference.” California calls it “implied malice.”

In North Carolina it’s an act “done in such a reckless and wanton manner as to manifest a mind utterly without regard for human life and social duty.”

We can’t think of a better description of drunk driving that results in death. As long as there are those who are without regard for human life and social duty, some drunk drivers will be facing a charge of second-degree murder.

alcohol-bad-judgment

It started when Vicki Susan Poitinger hit a car with her Camaro and kept driving. That was bad decision number 2 in a string of bad decisions. What was number 1? It will be obvious.

She threw a can of Mikes Harder Lemonade (8 percent alcohol by volume) into a neighbor’s yard and asked the neighbors to hide the can. Bad decision number 3.

When the neighbors refused to hide the can (good decision), Poitinger hid it under the neighbor’s porch. You guessed it – bad decision number 4.

It keeps going, A police officer gave her a breathalyzer and she put her mouth on it but didn’t blow. BD5.

She refused a breathalyzer test at the jail. Different attorneys might have different ideas on this point, so we’ll give it a pass. At any rate, the point is already made.

Bad decision number 1, of course, was drinking and driving. It’s the decision that set the other bad decisions in motion. And judging by the offender’s claim that she had previous DWI convictions, it’s one that she’s made before.

When Alcohol Takes the Wheel

Some people just seem to be good at making bad decisions. Alcohol, it must be said, makes people better at it, by removing inhibitions and making people care less about the consequences of what they do.

What will be the consequences? Multiple DWI offenders in North Carolina are required to use an ignition interlock, as are all people arrested for drunk driving who refuse a breath test. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

The interlock will not improve a person’s judgement, alas.No technology exists to do that. The device will, however, prevent a person from acting on the foolish desire to drink and drive, by incapacitating the starter motor while there is alcohol on the offender’s breath.

And while that won’t change a personality, it will protect society from one drunk driver and possibly aid in that person’s recovery, if she wishes to pursue that.

North Carolina’s ignition interlock law, then, was a good decision, one that the state’s residents benefit from each day. A stronger one – one that applied to all offenders and not just repeat drunk drivers – would be a better one. Let’s hope the state doesn’t put off that decision much longer.

backing-into-a-police-car

You normally would not consider backing into a police car as beneficial to you or society at large. Especially if the police officer whose car it is watches you do it. But it was a fairly good outcome for one man in Morganton, NC.

To understand why, you need to understand the situation. Not long after midnight a while back a member of the Morganton Department of Public Safety (that means she’s a cop) hunted down a gray Honda that had been driving erratically and found it stopped in the middle of the road.

The driver, one Rodney Allen Carter, had the radio on loud. When Officer Kania approached, he began doing weird things: turning the headlights off and on, mumbling, staring at the window buttons. The odor of alcohol was present.

The officer noted that the car wasn’t in park – the driver just had his foot on the brake. When asked to put it in park, he reversed it instead and hit the police car.

Carter tested at .25, more than three times the legal limit for intoxication. That meant he was not in any condition to drive a car.

It Could Have Been Worse

In fact, the driver was a menace who could have easily killed himself or someone else, judging by the fact that he couldn’t even operate a gearshift properly. Backing into the police car was good because it ended the incident with no injury.

What if the officer had been behind the car? What if, instead of backing into the car, he had sped forward and hit someone?

As it was, no one was hurt. The toll of North Carolina alcohol-related road deaths – currently 389 per year or about 28 percent of all road deaths – did not change as a result of anything going on in Morganton.

We all know that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Sometimes the bad is the enemy of the truly disastrous. So we welcome a DWI crash that might have prevented a DWI death. Though a better idea would be no DWIs at all.

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