It happens to everyone now and again. You find yourself in the midst of a great party, drinking or using recreational drugs, and getting slowly more intoxicated, or “buzzed.” Suddenly, you find yourself needing to go home in a rush, and do whatever it takes to get there — even if it means having to face the consequences of driving while intoxicated.
Luckily, for most of the population, they resort to using a friend to drive home, or using a service such as Lyft or Uber to catch a ride. Even in rural states such as Idaho, people would rather face the surcharge and increased times of a taxi or Uber than get a DUI or DWI charge.
This, is a smart move for many reasons. One, the consequences of driving while intoxicated range from a simple misdemeanor in some states to possible death in an automotive accident. Still, driving while intoxicated should always be considered a mistake of the highest caliber, especially in the United States and states like Idaho that have strict rules and penalties against driving while intoxicated. Still, the consequences of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence are not enough to deter everyone, even repeat offenders. For instance, up to 75% of the people who lost their licenses because of a DUI drive illegally without their license even after the fact. Such is the power of alcohol addiction.
What’s the Difference Between DUI and DWI?
It’s important to understand the difference between driving under the influence, or DUI, and driving while intoxicated, or DWI. Though both are equally negative to commit and have serious consequences, the definitions can vary per state. Generally, driving while intoxicated involves behavior that shows a person is visibly intoxicated in front of a police officer. This can include slurred speech, unsteady gait, delayed reflexes, and poor balances just to name a few.
Driving under the influence usually involves alcohol, but can also involve the use of other drugs. In Idaho, a DUI is defined as driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or any other substances that cause intoxicating effects.
Idaho’s BAC Law
In Idaho, a blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC of .08 percent or greater, is legally what qualifies a driver as under the influence. If he or she has used any other illegal substance, legal drugs, or any combination of these two, that is also considered a DUI. The BAC is a measure of the percent of ethyl alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. A BAC of .10 percent would mean, for example, that a person’s blood supply contains one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood. Even a BAC as low as .05 percent can cause significant changes, such as minor impairment of reasoning and memory, and also reflexes.
Keeping Consequences in Mind
It’s important to always keep in mind the consequences of driving while intoxicated, no matter how small your “buzz” might be, and whatever state you are in. Here in the state of Idaho, the consequences of driving while intoxicated might be different than in other states, but are still very similar. Look at this list of 10 consequences of driving while intoxicated for more information, and to stay educated and safe.
1. Automotive Accidents and Death
Even if you don’t get caught driving while intoxicated or under the influence, you might end up the victim of an automotive accident. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, drunk driving claims more than 10,000 lives per year in the United States alone. You could not only end up dead because of drunk driving, but also take the life of an innocent bystander.
Even if you end up only with minor injuries, the costs of having to tow your car, find a safe ride home, facing legal consequences if caught by police, and having to hire an auto accident attorney could be the least of your worries. Just because you live in a smaller state, the possibilities of getting involved in an automotive accident are still there. In 2012 alone, Idaho had more than 21, 402 vehicle collisions resulting in 184 fatalities.
2. Immediate Consequences for First-Time Offenses
Even if you face the consequences of driving while intoxicated for the first time, a first-time offense is enough to face even serious consequences. In Idaho, first-time DUI offenders face jail time: up to six months maximum. The minimum jail sentence will be at the court’s discretion fines up to $1,000 maximum. In addition, the court will most likely impose a six-month probationary period, during which you must complete a DUI education class.
3. Immediate Arrest and Bail Costs
After a police officer stops your vehicle, he or she will determine if you are driving while intoxicated or under the influence. The police officer can even search your vehicle if they suspect you of being intoxicated on other substances. This can lead to even more jail-time as well as felony convictions related to any drugs found on your person or inside your vehicle. Once you are tested for BAC using a breathalyzer, or even given another test to check for illegal drugs in your system, you will be arrested, put into a police vehicle, and taken to the nearest jail.
In Idaho, a judge will typically set a DUI bail bond of $500 in order for you to get out of jail. Though you can post the full amount yourself and receive it back after your case is finished, you may have to resort to using a bail bondsmen if you’re low on cash. This too can be costly, as the bondsman will charge a fee of 10% of the total bond plus posting fees of between $25 and $60.
Using a bigger bail bonds office can help you lower this cost, usually using a bail bondsmen will add on $75-$110 to your original bail amount.
4. Consequences for Refusal
As mentioned above, a police officer must measure you using a breathalyzer in order to determine your BAC and arrest you for DUI. However, don’t think that refusing to take the test gets you out of the consequences of driving while intoxicated. In Idaho, refusing a BAC test results in a one-year suspension and a $250 fine for the first refusal. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for at least 90 days and up to 180 days maximum for a first-time offense. In addition, refusing once only adds to your DUI score-card, and harsher consequences can be imposed if you are caught driving under the influence again.
5. Harsher Punishment for Higher BAC
It’s difficult to be able to tell how much you’ve had to drink, and even more difficult to tell what your exact BAC is. In Idaho, if you’re found to have a BAC of 0.20 percent or more, rest assured the consequences for driving while intoxicated will increase, even for first-time offenses. For one, a first-time offense is automatically a misdemeanor offense, with a 10-day mandatory jail sentence that can be extended up to one year. Fines increase from $1,000 up to $2,000 as well. Finally, your driver’s license will be suspended mandatory for one year after release from jail, with no driving privileges at all.
6. Felony Convictions
Having a DUI might seem not all too bad if only have a first-time offense, right? Wrong. Though it takes three DUI conviction if having a BAC of .08 percent to get a felony conviction, if you have a BAC of .08 percent or higher, in Idaho this counts as a felony conviction on the first offense Felony convictions make it extremely difficult in the future to find employment, as well as have heavier fines and jail time. In Idaho, the jail time is a mandatory 30 days in the county jail, or up to 5 years in Idaho state penitentiary. Fines increase up to $5,000, and your license can be suspended up to five years. In addition, you might be charged with aggravated DUI if you cause serious injury to another person while driving while intoxicated.
7. Court Fines
Whether you bail out of jail, or wait in jail for your court date, you will eventually face court fines for your DUI. Court fines can range from $500 to $1,000, with the most common court fine being issued for a DUI being $750. Unfortunately, if you find yourself with a lengthy criminal record, with solid evidence of your DUI, and other aggravating factors, that fine might be higher. Contacting criminal defense services can help lower your fine, and a good criminal defense attorney can argue on your behalf for leniency.
In addition, a DUI defense lawyer can help in getting your case thrown out in some rare cases. For instance, if your BAC was done with faulty breath test equipment, if there was no probable cause for a stop to be made, even medical conditions can all help get your case dismissed. Your criminal defense attorney will have more information on the subject. However, in every DUI case, the court will impose a fine for total court costs.
8. License Suspensions and Re-instatement
As mentioned above, whether you face a first-time offense or your third-offense, your license is subject to being suspended for a minimum of 90 days. This license suspension is done through two separate entities: the court and the DMV. The Idaho Transportation Department will require, therefore, two separate reinstatement fees to be paid. To reinstate a DMV suspension, you will spend $245 in addition to $285 for reinstatement after a court suspension. In addition, though you have the right to a criminal defense attorney during your initial criminal court hearing, you might have to pay additional out of pocket costs for an attorney to represent you during a separate civil driver’s license case. Clearly, the consequences of driving while intoxicated start to pile up financially.
9. Ignition Locks
Beginning in 2019, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho became one of only nine states to require DUI offenders to install an ignition lock into their vehicle. The ignition lock device will be put on a person’s vehicle only after the person’s license is reinstated. In addition, the device is clunky and time-consuming and requires a driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting their vehicle. If the person passes this mini-breathalyzer test, only then will the vehicle start. In addition, the costs of operating the ignition lock for up to a year will be paid by the offender themselves.
10. Increased Insurance
In the state of Idaho, all persons convicted of a DUI must be covered by a high-risk insurance policy. This insurance policy, known as an SR22, is deemed mandatory by the Idaho Transportation Department and is placed on top of your regular insurance for three years. This insurance costs between $10 and $25 a month, which multiplied over those three years ranges from $100 to $200 over that time period. In addition, the consequences of driving while intoxicated include huge increases to your regular insurance premiums as well. This can be staggeringly high if you are involved in an accident while driving while intoxicated and are obviously at fault.
Looking at the Long-Term
The consequences of driving while intoxicated include much more than the above mentioned. The trauma of going through an event like this, or being the cause of an accident that leads to serious injury or death, might outweigh them all. In addition, the future for DUI drivers is much more difficult in terms of employment and future career goals. You lose wages paying all the court, bail, and attorney fees, in addition to reinstatement fees.
If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, now is the time to seek help. Usually, in states such as Idaho, it’s mandatory for people to attend alcohol treatment after a DUI as well. Your DUI defense lawyer will be able to lay out all of your options. But, it’s never too early to start making the right decisions and seeking treatment. It’s always better to plan your night out ahead of time, have a sober driver, and ensure you can avoid all the consequences of driving while intoxicated, and save your life.