DUI or drunk driving is a serious criminal offense. Across the United States, it is illegal for a person to drive or operate a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more. Although many states have similar laws governing DUI offenders, DUI victims and DUI victim compensation, the state in which your DUI incident took place could alter your outcome.
DUI is a common problem in many states
The number of drunk driving fatalities vary significantly from one state to another. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an advocacy group formed in 1980 in reaction to drunk-driving fatalities and lenient sentencing of drunk driving offenders, there were 774 drunk driving deaths in California in 2010. In 2011, the number of deaths caused by drunk driving in California remained the same. In Kentucky, the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents rose from 168 in 2010 to 171 in 2011. Does the higher number of DUI-related fatalities in California mean that California DUI laws are less effective than Kentucky DUI laws?
California DUI law
Under California DUI law, the results of a chemical test conducted within three hours of a DUI stop could be considered as an accurate measure of the motorist's blood alcohol concentration. While the permitted blood alcohol concentration for motorists, including under age drivers, is 0.08 percent, it is 0.04 percent for commercial vehicle drivers. California law specifically prohibits a person who is under the influence of drugs from driving or operating a vehicle. The California DMV can suspend the driver's license of individuals who have been arrested for DUI. Such individuals can request the DMV for a hearing to restore the driver's license. After a fourth DUI offense within a 10 year period, the accident will become a felony offense and will have much harsher penalties.
Kentucky DUI law
Under Kentucky DUI law, the permitted blood alcohol concentration for motorists is 0.08 percent. For drivers under the age of 21, the permitted level is 0.02 percent. It is 0.04 percent for commercial vehicle drivers. Commercial drivers can be placed out of service for 24 hours if the blood test shows any amount of alcohol or other prohibited substance in their blood. It is also illegal to drive or operate a vehicle while under the influence of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, over the counter medicines, inhalants such as spray paint, gasoline, glue, etc. and any substance that impairs driving ability. Blood tests must be conducted within two hours of operation of the vehicle for them to be used in court. Kentucky DUI law has minimum jail terms for individuals convicted of DUI if aggravating circumstances exist. This jail term cannot be suspended, probated or conditionally discharged nor can the convicted individual be subject to early release. A second or subsequent conviction will result in the forfeiture of license plates for the period which the driver's license is suspended by the court. If an offender commits a fourth DUI offense within a five year period, it becomes a Class D felony which results in different fees and penalties.
DUI deaths and population
The higher number of DUI related fatalities in California as compared to Kentucky does not mean that California DUI laws are less effective. Kentucky has a population of 4.3 million while California has a population of over 30 million. Although it has long been suspected that differing laws governing DUI offenders in different states does affect a violator’s likeliness to become a repeat offender, there is little evidence to support this claim.
As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I want to remind everyone to never drink and drive. It's against the law and dangerous. No matter which state you're in, if a police officer pulls you over, you will suffer the consequences.