Though 2nd and 3rd time DUI offenders create a high risk of accidents when back on the road, research indicates that the majority of fatal DUI accidents are actually caused by first-time offenders. MADD is one organization speaking out to increase penalties for first-time offenders, a movement that could potentially have legislative consequences in Alabama and nationwide. Our Birmingham drunk driving defense attorneys are dedicated to staying abreast of legislative trends and advocacy that may impact our clients.
First-time DUI offenders may not realize how intoxicated they are before getting behind the wheel. If they have no prior record, first-time offenders may also be more likely to take greater risks, including driving on the freeway, or traveling at high speeds. According to an analysis of a Wisconsin Department of Transportation report, the majority of drunk driving deaths and injuries are caused by offenders who have no prior convictions. For all motorists, this reality is a warning. The decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated is never predictable. For other motorists on the road, becoming a victim may not be preventable.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) asserts that first-time convicted offenders have driven at least 80 times before being arrested. The organization is speaking out to increase the number stops, checkpoints and other legal enforcement procedures to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. This could increase the number of DUI arrests and result in greater penalties for first-time offenders.
Other lawmakers assert that harsh drunk-driving penalties should not target first-time offenders who made a one-time mistake. MADD is urging legislative members to deliver harsher penalties to first-time offenders because they are involved in a large majority of fatal drunk-driving accidents. According to MADD, three out of four drivers who were involved in a fatal or serious injury DUI accident had no prior convictions.
A Wisconsin Department of Transportation study indicates that drivers who have already been convicted of one or more OWI offenses are not the bulk of drivers involved in the most serious fatal and injurious drinking and driving accidents. Analysts of this study point to the reality that the age may impact records. For example, only post-1989 convictions were considered “prior.” There could also be additional arrests before that year.
One alcohol industry trade group, cites 2012 data that 87 percent of DUI involved drivers with no prior convictions. This data, however, does not take into consideration crashes that involve injuries. According to the NHTSA, 93 percent of drivers in fatal crashes with a BAC over .08 had no previous driver’s record. This data sheds light on important facts in DUI cases. Repeat drunk drivers comprise the smallest proportion of drivers and are the group primarily responsible for alcohol related accidents. Any driver involved with an accident, especially one involving injuries or fatalities should contact an experienced advocate to prevent maximum charges and penalties. If you have a prior record, you will likely face more severe charges and penalties after a second or third arrest.