South Dakota DWI Bracelets Expand 24/7 Sobriety Project

By Mary Ann

Some South Dakota DWI defendants may soon find themselves wearing leg bracelets that will continuously monitor alcohol content.

Since January 2005, South Dakota DWI suspects in some counties have been required to submit to breathalyzer tests twice a day while their cases were pending. However, the program has been difficult to implement in rural areas.

South Dakota DWI enforcement agencies have now received 25 of 100 alcohol monitoring bracelets purchased by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). These bracelets will allow remote monitoring of the alcohol content in the defendant’s sweat.



Pennsylvania DUI Law Challenged

By Mary Ann

A 2004 modification to Pennsylvania DUI laws is under attack. Prior to the 2004 revision, Pennsylvania DUI law provided for a seven-year “look back” period, meaning that a second DUI arrest within seven years was treated more severely.

The new Pennsylvania DUI law extends the “look back” period to ten years. That change, however, has created complications in dealing with DUI offenders who entered into specific agreements in the past.

The case currently before a Pennsylvania court involves a man who was was arrested for drunk driving in 1994 and entered a program in 1996 with the explicit agreement that his acceptance of program terms would be treated as a prior conviction for a period of seven years.

Had the agreement been worded differently, the case might not be before the court today, but apparently many Pennsylvania DUI defendants entered into programs that explicitly accepted the seven-year “look back” period.

Now, the courts must determine whether the new Pennsylvania DUI law that extends the “look back” period can be applied to those defendants who accepted a seven-year period as part of an agreement offered by prosecutors and accepted by the original DUI court.



Denver DUI Process Ignores Colorado DUI Requirements

By Mary Ann

Colorado DUI laws require that all drunk driving suspects be fingerprinted and photographed. However, the Rocky Mountain News reported this week that Denver DUI enforcement officers have been ignoring that aspect of Colorado DUI law for more than a decade.

Most Denver DUI officers reportedly allows Denver DUI suspects to be driven home by a sober friend or family member without formal booking.

Officials are concerned about the risks of this process. For instance, a Denver DUI defendant who used a fake ID could avoid detection.

And, in at least one recent Denver DUI offense, charges were dropped after the defendant claimed mistaken identity and there were no photographs or fingerprints to tie him to the arrest.



Alaska DUI Campaign Challenged

By Mary Ann

The recent nationwide media blitz to raise awareness about the risks of drunk driving employed the slogan: Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.

Now, an Alaska DUI watchdog organization is protesting the slogan. The President of the Fairbanks chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) fears that the slogan creates the erroneous impression that it’s okay to drive right up to the limit.

Others, including some Alaska DUI enforcement officers, agree with MADD’s concerns. However, the Alaska DUI enforcement campaign is required to use the federal slogan if it wants to use the more than $6 million in federal grant money earmarked for DUI enforcement and other highway safety issues.



Paris Hilton Arrested on Suspicion of DUI

By Mary Ann

Paris Hilton was arrested late last night on suspicion of DUI. Officers reportedly administered field sobriety tests at the scene.

No official word is available on Hilton’s blood alcohol level, but her representatives have indicated that she tested right at .08–the legal limit in California.

Hilton was driving her Mercedes-Benz SLR home from a charity event after spending the day shooting a music video for her new album.



.08 Does Not Mean “Drunk”

By Mary Ann

The questions arise all the time:

  • How could I be arrested if my BAC was below .08?
  • How could I get suspended from work for being under the influence if my BAC was below .08?
  • How could I have gotten arrested?
  • How could I have gotten kicked out of the high school basketball game?

These questions reflect a common but serious misunderstanding of the meaning of the .08 “legal limit.” In every state, a person may face a DUI conviction for operating a motor vehicle “with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater” (language varies from state to state).

That means it’s a crime to drive with a BAC of .08% or greater. And that’s all it means. States are free to pass DUI laws that also make driving under the influence a crime, and allow for conviction with a blood alcohol level lower than .08% if you show signs of impairment.

States are free to make it a crime to drive with a lower BAC if you’re a minor. States are free to make it a crime to drive with a lower BAC if you’re driving a commercial vehicle. And many do all three.

Outside the legal arena, the .08% “limit” has no application at all unless specifically adopted for some other purpose. Employers aren’t bound by it. Schools aren’t bound by it. And even the criminal justice system isn’t bound by it outside the specific statutes that refer to it.

For instance, the crime of “public intoxication” is not, in most states, dependent upon a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater.

So what does your BAC mean for your case? Speak with a DUI attorney to get the facts about the laws in your state and what your BAC really means.



Texas Joins Growing List of States Obtaining Blood Sample Warrants in Suspected DUI Cases

By Mary Ann

Over the past several months, states have begun instituting programs–usually on a small scale, starting in a few counties–to obtain warrants for blood samples in breathalyzer refusal cases.

We previously reported such programs in South Carolina and Delaware. A Texas Court of Appeals upheld the issuance of warrants for blood samples in 2002, but the state hasn’t regularly used the procedure.

That seems to be changing, with several reported cases of blood-draw warrants over the past two months.