Alright folks, this next one might light some sparks so I’m going to try to make sure I explain my stance here. I have nothing against MADD, and I completely understand the seriousness that is involved with driving drunk, intoxicated, impaired, etc. I know that thousands of lives have been lost and/or changed forever as a result of careless drunk drivers. Driving drunk and/or impaired is stupid, careless, costly and extremely dangerous. People who repeatedly do this are especially dumb and/or careless and definitely have a problem. Let’s just get all of that out in the open. I also understand that being at the blood alcohol level of .08 or higher doesn’t necessarily mean you are drunk, what it does mean is that you are at a point where you’re most likely a less safe driver.
That’s all fine and dandy. My problem is this – a friend of mine recently was driving home on a Saturday night and ran into a mandatory road block in a small town just outside of Atlanta, GA. It wasn’t a situation where the police saw him driving erratically, doing improper lane changes, speeding, etc. No. It was a road block and everyone was getting questioned for insurance, registration, etc. They smelled alcohol on his breath and gave a breathalyzer test, which is still fine. BUT HE PASSED THE TEST! He blew a .056 which is well under the legal limit of .08. Mind you this is all without a field sobriety (count from Z to A, walk a straight line, etc). By the way, I’m told there’s no way you can “pass” a field sobriety test. It’s only meant to show the cops key indicators on your state of intoxication. Anyways, even though my friend blew below the legal limit, he was still arrested and charged with a DUI. Locked up in jail, car towed, job in jeopardy, all of that. Had to pay over $1600 to get bailed out of jail and will have to give a lawyer a couple of thousand dollars to beat the case.
I need lawyers, police officers, judges, prosecutors, ANYONE to explain to me how the hell this is right or justified. As you can probably tell, I’m furious that this happened and it wasn’t even me that it happened to. But I recognize that this could have potentially happened to me or anyone who goes out for a casual drink or two. If we are at the point where no matter what you do, even if you are under the legal limit of .08 you can still get arrested for a DUI, what’s the point of having the legal limit in the first place? Why is it there if it really doesn’t matter? Just arrest anyone you see leaving a bar even if they just had a beer, because technically that is still drinking and driving right? Does that mean no matter what, you need to call a cab or take the train anytime you drink and have to go home?
Something isn’t right. I have been to work related functions (holiday parties, team outings, happy hour with the managers, etc.) where coworkers have gone to drink with their colleagues and managers. If your manager and director invite you out to drinks, in my opinion it’s in your best interest to go. It’s your chance to bond with your upper leadership and if you don’t go, an opinion of you may be formed. But, someone shouldn’t be at risk to lose their job because they had a couple of beers and blew under the legal limit if they were not driving erratically. There needs to at least be a difference between a DUI at .156 (reckless) and a DUI at .056 (seriously). Perhaps you could just give the person a ticket for whatever their offense was (expired tag, speeding, etc) and force them to call a ride home as opposed to wasting their time and money in court for a charge that won’t stick. Even if you beat the DUI charge, you’ll still be out at least $3K when you add up all of the mandatory fines that they get you with these days – Jail, mandatory fine of usually $1K, defensive driving school, lawyer fees, potential job loss, etc.)
UPDATE! My friend who got arrested for a DUI for blowing UNDER the limit had his entire case dropped! He had a “consultation” with a lawyer and they told him he was apparently in good shape, and his case was dropped in court. Fantastic news…I’m all for someone getting a legitimate DUI if they are over the limit, but under the limit DUI attempts are ridiculous.
UPDATE! This is a separate story that I felt was worth including here. I have another friend who received a DUI and get this–she wasn’t even driving the vehicle at the time of the incident! Yes, she simply was asleep in her car attempting to “sleep it off” and sober up. A policeman knocked on her door, and unfortunately she received a DUI because she had the keys in the ignition and the car was running. This occurred on a very cold winter night, so she was probably running the heat to stay warm. However, in many states (apparently Georgia is one of them) you can still get a DUI if you aren’t driving, if your keys are in the ignition. When the keys are in the ignition, the car is considered operational. If you keep your keys in your pocket and sleep in the car that way, then apparently you will be okay. If anyone can provide additional input on situations like these, that would be great. I do think it’s a bit ridiculous to arrest someone who clearly is attempting to sleep off their intoxication and be somewhat responsible, but I digress!