Drunk Driving: Penalties and How To Avoid
19 October, 2023
Drunk driving is an illegal act with heavy consequences for the driver, their passengers, and everyone nearby. Thus, there are many penalties to punish individuals convicted of this crime. These include fines, license suspension, vehicle confiscation, and jail time. Furthermore, these penalties discourage people from committing this crime. By making plans, it is easy to avoid driving while intoxicated. People may assign designated drivers, take public transportation, or use personal breathalysers to keep themselves safe.
The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit for New Zealand varies with age. Those below the age of 20 have a zero alcohol limit. Meanwhile, those above 20 years old have a limit of 0.05g% BAC. Higher BAC levels indicate higher impairment, which makes people who have consumed alcohol unfit to drive. This article will present about driving while drunk penalties and how to avoid them.
Drunk Driving Penalties
High BAC levels indicate higher risks of getting into accidents. This is because alcohol impairs their judgment, coordination, and reaction times. Additionally, high BAC levels lower inhibitions and make them prone to risky behaviours. New Zealand has strict rules and penalties to prevent drunk driving accidents.
A police officer may conduct a test if the individual is suspected of drinking and driving or if they are stopped at an alcohol checkpoint. Those caught with the crime of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) face fines that can vary depending on age and if it is a repeated offence. For people under 20 years old, fines can reach up to $2250. Meanwhile, individuals over 20 years old may be fined up to $6000.
Another penalty is a license suspension. This can range from 6 months to permanent loss. Moreover, authorities can temporarily confiscate or impound the vehicles. They can also install ignition interlocks, which prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s BAC is above the limit. Lastly, those convicted of DUI can face jail time of up to 3 months.
Alcohol Limit in New Zealand and Effects of Different BAC Levels
These are the alcohol limits for drivers in New Zealand:
- Drivers under 20: There is a zero alcohol limit. They are not allowed to have any liquor before driving.
- Drivers over 20: The BAC limit is 0.05g% or consumption of more than 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.
Furthermore, these are some effects of different BAC levels on a person:
- 0.05g% – slight euphoria, more relaxed and confident
- 0.05g% to 0.08g% – reduced inhibition and impaired judgment
- 0.08g% to 0.15g% – slurred speech, impaired coordination, nausea, vomiting
- 0.15g% to 0.30g% – inadequate breathing, loss of bladder control, loss of consciousness
- 0.30g% – coma or death
How to Avoid Drunk Driving
There are several methods one can use to avoid drunk driving. First, if the individual is going out with a group, they can assign a designated driver. This person will not consume alcohol for the occasion to ensure that the group stays safe. Ideally, this person is someone who abstains from alcoholic beverages. However, the group can also take turns for this position.
If the person is alone, calling a taxi or someone to pick them up is a helpful tip to avoid inebriated driving. They may also use public transportation if they feel well enough. However, if they are unable to do so, they may benefit from sleeping at a nearby place. This can be a hotel or home of someone they know and feel comfortable with. If possible, make plans beforehand to ensure safety.
Lastly, the individual can abstain from alcoholic beverages. Even on special occasions, an individual should not succumb to social pressures at the expense of their safety. Refraining from consuming alcohol is the best method, as there are times when liquor gives a person a false sense of confidence.
Factors that Affect BAC Levels
Different factors may affect the BAC levels of the individual taking the test. Firstly, the amount of alcohol consumed within the period is the foremost factor. Additionally, the type of beverage is another factor. Liquors like vodka and whiskey have high alcohol levels in comparison to other drinks.
Moreover, females have a higher fat-to-water ratio compared to men. Thus, their BAC increases faster. This is also true for anyone with high body fat content compared to those who don’t. Furthermore, eating food before consuming alcohol slows its absorption. Lastly, medications can interfere with how the liver processes ethanol.
Advantages of Using a Personal Breathalyser to Prevent Drunk Driving
There are many benefits to owning a personal breathalyser. An alcohol breath test allows the person to assess their BAC levels. There are many options for these devices that are convenient to use in various locations. Moreover, they are designed to be easy to use even while intoxicated. Using these, the person can make an informed decision about their driving ability and avoid drunk driving.
Moreover, a breathalyser can inform them if they have hit their limit. It can also help them understand how different alcoholic beverages affect them. By doing this, they can avoid overconsumption of liquor and its many adverse effects. Developing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that leads to increased risks for depression, cancer, liver diseases and brain damage.
It is best to use a different mouthpiece for each test while using a personal breathalyser. Thus, it is better to use a device with a removable mouthpiece. Moreover, a person should wait at least 15 minutes after liquor consumption before using an alcohol breath test. Lastly, keep personal and legal limits in mind while consuming alcohol.
How to Use a Breathalyser
Using a personal breathalyser is a quick and easy procedure. To start, attach a clean and dry mouthpiece to the device. Next, press the power button to turn on the sensors. Wait for a few seconds to allow the device to warm up. Then, the user must take a deep breath and continuously blow into the device.
The user must continue until the device signals that it is finished. For most devices, it is indicated by a beep. Afterwards, the device will show the results. If there is an error message, the individual will need to redo the process after a few seconds.
Drunk driving causes many accidents and fatal road crashes. This is why there are heavy penalties to discourage and punish people from intoxicated driving. The severity of penalties varies depending on the BAC level upon checking. Penalties include license suspensions, vehicle confiscations, fines, installation of ignition interlock, and jail time. However, it can easily be avoided by not consuming alcohol, appointing a designated driver, or using public transportation instead of driving.
Being convicted of DUI does not only cause a financial burden. A criminal conviction can severely impact daily life. It can also affect employment and strain familial relationships. Thus, a person must prevent themselves from committing this crime. People can monitor their BAC levels and limit alcohol consumption using personal breathalysers. BACtrack breathalysers are available at Breathalysers New Zealand. These are accurate and reliable devices for measuring BAC levels.