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DUI: No, We Really Don't Know Ourselves!

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There are so many myths to which drivers fall prey, and which can result in the chaos and life-altering pain that is a companion to DUI. The years have passed and have enabled many of us to hear them all and to watch sadly while those we seek to defend and protect embark on a collision course, figuratively and literally.

Many of my clients have miscalculated their body's ability to metabolize alcohol and while firmly believing they were in control of their faculties, have found themselves as unintended guests of county law enforcement officials, and as passengers in patrol vehicles heading for the nearest breath measurement stations or correctional facilities.

Larger framed individuals often feel they take longer to top the alcohol scales or to feel the effects of the alcohol within their system. There are no hard and fast rules, and considering all that can happen to someone who is charged with DUI and eventually convicted of the offense, suspended driver's licenses, jail sentences, loss of income and possibly employment, it isn't worth the risk. The unintended ingestion of alcohol, no matter how slight, casts the operator into the abyss of possible state prison sentences where an innocent third party is injured or killed. Even if the alcohol content is minimal, if there is any possible effect on the driver's ability to control the vehicle or his or her driving, the liability and exposure are nearly absolute. Temper and reason are also lost in the shuffle and the ugliness of road rage rises to the surface.

One of my clients had pulled off the main highway to catch a nap in a tourist area. The facility was populated by police officers and a driver sleeping in his car is fair game for suspicion. The person in question, who is a big man in stature, said very plainly that he "knew himself," and that it "took a lot to get him drunk." A few hours of sleep to him was being cautious, and while his consideration of society was admirable, it was faulty, and an open invitation for examination. The individual was one who depended on his driver's license to make his living, and the misconception of girth as an insulator of intoxication proved to be his downfall.

As a lawyer, I feel we have a dual responsibility: certainly to seek the best possible result under the law and to utilize those defenses that the law allows. But also to try to prevent the tragedy that often accompanies the commission of a DUI offense. The humiliation alone, the inconvenience, if that's ALL that happens, and the resultant smirch on one's character or self-image. But in more cases than not, what does ensue is far more reaching and consequential. Maybe because the holidays are not far away, I become more conscious of the vulnerability of all of us to wanting to celebrate life and enjoy good times. And the tendency to rationalize the type of participation in such self-destructive and self-defeating behavior.

Again, it is NOT worth the risk. And no, we really "don't know ourselves" as well as we would like to think we do.

Stay safe.