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Public Order Crimes

Driving Under The Influence (dui)

A potentially tragic and deadly criminal action involving alcohol is driving a motor vehicle while or after consuming alcohol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 17,401 deaths in 2003 were due to crashes involving alcohol. This was only 18 deaths fewer than in 2002. The 17,401 figure represented 40 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2003.

In addition to fatalities, over 500,000 people are injured in alcohol related vehicle accidents every year. The NHTSA estimates three in ten Americans will be affected during their lifetime by an alcohol-related crash, involving themselves, a relative, or a friend.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a public order crime. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) have pressured lawmakers to strengthen DUI laws. Their successes include: (1) passage of state laws raising the minimum legal drinking age to twenty-one; (2) lowering the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for adult drivers (twenty-one and over) to 0.08 in many states; and (3) zero tolerance laws for youth.

The 0.08 figure means a 0.08 percent concentration of ethanol in a person's blood or breath. Zero tolerance laws for youth make it illegal for a driver under twenty-one years of age to have any measurable amount of alcohol in the blood. Some states actually set the limit for those under twenty-one at 0.00 while others allow up to 0.02. Every state makes its own laws.

Alcoholic Beverages

Rarely when an individual drinks an alcoholic beverage are they drinking pure alcohol. Only a few ounces of the pure liquid rapidly raises blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) to a very dangerous level leading to unconsciousness and possibly death. The alcohol in drinks is ethanol. The approximate ethanol concentration for the most common alcoholic beverages is as follows:

  • Beer: 4–6 percent
  • Malt liquor: 5–8 percent
  • Wine cooler: 5–10 percent
  • Wine: 9–13 percent
  • Champagne: 8–14 percent

Hard liquor (such as vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum): 40–95 percent

Grain alcohol: 95–97.5 percent

Hard liquor and grain alcohol are commonly diluted with various soda, fruit or sweetened juices, or water.

A standard .12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1 shot (1.5 ounces) of hard liquor all contain 12 grams of pure ethanol. It takes the human body about one hour to metabolize (absorb and breakdown) 12 grams of ethanol. When drinks are consumed at a pace faster than the body can metabolize, a person begins to feel intoxicated. Intoxication levels will rise as drinking continues. Symptoms of intoxication are slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, a lack of mental clearness, loss of coordination, and often the willingness to take dangerous risks.

(Information from Just Facts.org at http://www.justfacts.or/jf/alcohol/general.asp)

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawPublic Order Crimes - Prostitution, Abnormal Sexual Behavior, Pornography, Alcohol And Crime, Driving Under The Influence (dui)