DUI Auto Accidents - What You Need to Know

By: Nick Johnson

Driving while under the influence "DUI" is, as we all know, one of the biggest causes of road fatalities in the United States. In 2005, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just over 43,000 people were killed on American roads; of these, almost 40% were alcohol related. To put it another way - a person is killed every thirty minutes due to drunk driving.

The obvious advice of course is not to drink and drive. But people still do and the reasons are all too familiar. Many people think they can get away with having just one drink; many people consider it acceptable to drink and drive if they are just going a short distance. And many teenage drivers are persuaded by friends that it's OK to just have a couple of drinks.

Be especially careful if you are driving in Alaska. The state has the highest numbers of alcohol related accidents, possibly due to the constantly icy roads or the long distances involved. And of course, people tend to drink and drive more at certain times of year, or for a special occasion. Thanksgiving is the time of year that most people tend to drink and drive, followed closely by New Years Eve.

Younger drivers - defined as those aged from 21 to 34 - are responsible for more alcohol related deaths than any other age group. About five times more alcohol related accidents occur at night than during the day and around 60% of all DUI convictions are given to first time offenders.

But if you do find yourself in a DUI situation, what can you expect and what are your legal rights? A DUI is a serious offence. But it often isn't as bad it first appears, and you may have some options. This article offers only general advice. You should always consult an attorney who is qualified and has experience in this area.

To further complicate things, the rules and regulations can vary from state to state. It can make a big difference which state the offence occurred in. The level of alcohol in your blood at the time of the incident can influence the outcome too. Different states have their own levels which can vary greatly.

If you are going to have a drink or two, make sure you know the limits in your state. A DUI conviction is either classed as a crime or a felony. A conviction can mean one or more of several things depending on the circumstances. Penalties and fines can vary based on several factors: any history of previous DUI convictions, whether there was another vehicle involved, any damage to property and whether the driver was under the legal drinking age.

If you are involved in a DUI accident, whether as the driver or passenger, the first thing you should do is consult an attorney. Which of course, is your legal right. Try to find an attorney who specializes in DUI cases and can offer initial advice. You still have certain rights if you are involved in a DUI incident and it's up to you not to try to incriminate yourself.

In most cases, if you are asked to give a breathalyzer test, you can choose whether or not to take part. In most states, if you refuse, your license will automatically be revoked. Regardless of any additional penalties. Instead of the standard breathalyzer test, there may also be other tests such as field sobriety tests or a blood sample.

If you witness an accident (whether DUI related or not ) you also have certain obligations. Your first concern of course should be for any people trapped or hurt at the scene of the accident. Always provide accurate information - your statement may be invaluable in determining what really happened and who is to blame.

If you spot a driver who appears to be drunk, try to get the license plate number without putting yourself in danger. Call the local police department or the highway patrol as soon as you can, its one scenario where cellphone use while driving is considered to be acceptable!

Despite widespread efforts to reduce DUI accidents, drunk driving remains the biggest source of fatalities on the road today. Never drink and drive. And if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a DUI accident, know your rights.

Car Accidents
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