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One choice conjured from an inebriated brain can put you behind the wheel and on the road when odds are you should be in a taxi. Maybe you managed to make it home without any episodes before.
The next thing you know, you've been waved over to the side of the road by law enforcement. Here begins the topsy-turvy roller coaster ride known as a DUI―driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The least of the experience is humiliation.
That would be enough in most cases, but some don't learn that fast, so the laws force a big blotch on a driver's record (both criminal and driving)―and put the hurt on their bank account. The consequence of the decision to drive drunk can last for years and act as a black cloud always hanging over your future. And that is if you were not involved in an accident where someone was injured or, worse, killed.
But right now, as you stand off to the side of the road blinking into the cop's headlights, you'd just better hope that you test under the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit―which in the state of Hawaii is 0.08%―that will get you arrested for DUI. Even if you test between 0.05% and 0.08%, you could be considered to be under the influence and arrested.
You can opt to forgo the roadside breath test, but that opens up an entirely other realm of punishments under the legal framework. In fact, just as if you were being arrested for DUI, if you refuse a BAC test you will end up turning over your license to the police officer at the scene and read your Miranda rights.
- If you fail the roadside sobriety test, which could entail anything from standing on one leg while answering a barrage of questions to touching your nose and walking a straight line, you will be read your rights.
- You will enjoy a complimentary ride in a police car to jail―in tight handcuffs.
- A tow truck will take your car and impound it.
- A Breathalyzer test will be offered under the implied consent laws, and if you refuse it, you can say good-bye to your license at that point; it will be confiscated. You may never see it again, as it will be suspended.
- You will get to sober up in a jail cell. Depending on how much you had to drink, this could be just a few long hours or a never-ending day. While you are sitting behind bars, a whole series of events could be set into motion that will affect your employment, your financial stability, and your family.
Simply put, blood alcohol concentration is how much alcohol is pulsing through your blood and giving you the feel-good high of intoxication. While there are numerous factors affecting each individual's BAC, and it will vary from person to person even after the same number of drinks, scientists have come up with a few basic averages.
Cresting the 0.08% BAC level would require a 170-pound guy with an empty stomach to imbibe around four drinks in one hour. To match this BAC, a woman hovering around 140 pounds would need to have three drinks in an hour on an empty stomach. So the variable is based on body weight, time frame versus amount consumed, and time elapsed between drinks. As far as alcohol content per drink, a glass of wine, one beer, and one shot all carry about equal weight.
- Defendant is required to enroll in a 14-day alcohol or drug abuse program.
- Jail time: Generally, a first offense will not carry any jail time past the initial arrest, but it is possible to remain incarcerated for up to five days.
- License suspension: 90 days. The court will consider limited driving privileges for those who are employed and have no other means of transportation.
- Other sentencing options include up to 72 hours of community service.
Within five years of the first offense:
- Fine: Between $500 and $1,500.
- Five to 14 days in jail or 240 hours of community service.
- License suspension: One year.
Within five years of the first offense:
- Fine: Between $500 and $2,500.
- Jail time: 10 to 30 days.
- License suspension: License will be revoked for two to five years.
- Loss of vehicle.
We hope you never need one, but a DUI attorney can help you understand these penalties as well as what you can expect in court.