If statistics alone could get people to change their behavior, drivers might pause before getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But as you know empirically—perhaps because you’ve been arrested recently for DUI, or perhaps because a loved one just called you from jail in emotional distress because of an arrest—it’s not so simple. Why do drivers make poor/reckless decisions? And what can be done about the problem of DUI—on a community-wide or city-wide level—to make things safer for everyone?fix-society-dui-problem-258x300

In this post and a subsequent one, we’ll take an unbiased (well, as unbiased as possible) look at the science and possible solutions.

You probably are already all too familiar with facts like these from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention:

Breath, blood and urine–law enforcement officials use a variety of tests to determine if they should charge a driver with DUI. Here’s a look at the science behind the various types of tests and what you should know about the pros and cons of each in the event that police arrest you for driving under the influence.DUI-breath-urine-blood-tests-los-angeles-300x169

Measuring your breath

Although the word breathalyzer is actually a trade name for a specific type of breath testing device, people now use it generically to describe all types of alcohol breath tests. There are differences in the way each of these tests work, however.

Breath, blood and urine–law enforcement officials use a variety of tests to determine if they should charge a driver with DUI. Here’s a look at the science behind the various types of tests and what you should know about the pros and cons of each in the event that police arrest you for driving under the influence.

DUI-blood-breath-urine-tests-300x150

School Testing

Measuring your breath

Do you have an extra $7,300 to spare? If you’d have trouble coming up with that kind of cash, you need to think carefully before you get behind the wheel when you’re under the influence!costs-of-a-los-angeles-DUI-calculated

Just paying the fines and court costs for a DUI conviction could leave you struggling to make ends meet. And that doesn’t include the other expenses that you could face along the way for legal fees, spikes in your insurance premiums, lost work time, the installation of an interlock ignition device, and beyond.

For the sake of this analysis, we’ll take a first time DUI—no accident or personal injury involved—as the basis for guesstimating your expenses.

Recent studies commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington State after it legalized usage of the drug. This fact makes it clear that states need good ways to get drivers under the influence of marijuana off the road. But there’s a big problem. To date, there’s no reliable and widely accepted method of measuring levels of marijuana in a driver’s system.  marijuana-breathalyzer-300x169

It would be great if companies could develop the equivalent of an alcohol breathalyzer for testing for motorists who are DUI for cannabis. Law enforcement officials have been relying on breathalyzer technology to estimate blood alcohol levels for decades. In addition, there’s a clear-cut agreement of what constitutes DUI; all 50 states accept a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater as the dividing line.

But it isn’t that easy when it comes to determining DUI for marijuana.  First, police need a roadside method of measuring levels of cannabis’s main active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in a driver’s system. There are a few companies and university researchers that are attempting to solve this challenge right now, and some are already marketing devices.

Dealing with the aftereffects of a DUI is never easy. It’s especially difficult, however, when you’re living on the economic edge: if you’re a single mom who’s working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet, a student working your way through school or a veteran or retiree living on a fixed and very limited income. no-car-los-angeles-DUI

You’ll have to find a way to pay the cost of fines and court-mandated DUI classes. If you’re depended on your car to get to your job or to your school, you’ll have to search for an alternate mode of transportation. But one good thing about living in the Los Angeles area is that you may have more options for coping with the crisis than someone who lives in more rural areas.

Getting around

It’s the call that no parent wants but too many of us receive. “Mom, Dad, I’m at the police station. I’ve been charged with DUI.”teen-dui-los-angeles

As you drive to pick up your wayward teen, your emotions range from relief that your child is safe to anger that she made such poor choices to anxiety about how this arrest will impact her future.

You’re not alone. Many parents in the U.S. have gone through this experience. The National Organization for Youth Safety says that 25 percent of all car crashes involved an underage drinking driver. The CDC reports that in 2014, 17 percent of drivers aged 16 to 20 who were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol contact of .08 percent or higher.

The last thing you want after a DUI arrest and/or conviction is another traffic infraction on your driving record. While some difficult driving situations might be unavoidable (you can’t control what other drivers are doing on the road), there are some ways that you can reduce your risk of another citation by practicing safe driving behaviors. Here are some suggestions culled from various online sources.drowsy-driver-DUI-los-angeles-300x166

•    Don’t drink (or do drugs or smoke pot) and drive again.

This one may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t seem to learn from their first DUI arrest.

In the United States, an average of 20 people a minute suffer physical abuse at the hands of a spouse or an intimate partner. That’s equal to more than 10 million men and women each year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Although intimate partners of both sexes suffer abuse, the majority of those abused are women; every nine seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten.domestic-violence-los-angeles

But domestic violence includes more than physical abuse. The U.S. Department of Justice’ Office on Violence Against Women defines it as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship to gain or maintain power over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten terrorize, to coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.”

What causes someone to inflict this kind of pain on the people they are supposed to love the most? Writing on medicinenet.com, Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards notes that domestic abuse can involve partners of all races, religions, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation. But certain risk factors do appear to be associated with domestic violence, including lack of a high school education, poverty, witnessing family violence as a child and attitudes of male domination.

Whether you ran a light on Sunset after partying too hard at Chateau Marmont; found yourself in police custody after speeding on Mulholland following an industry party in the hills; or faced an agonizing night behind bars after being stopped at a checkpoint near the 101, you’re feeling emotionally hung over from your DUI arrest. That’s natural, even if you did nothing wrong or if the charges against you are relatively minor.leaning-tower-of-pisa-DUI-300x168

It is possible, though, that your recent DUI arrest constituted one of the biggest mistakes in your life. Perhaps you hurt someone or damaged property or just embarrassed yourself hugely in front of work colleagues. And now the guilt is tearing you up. But it’s crucial to take a breath, be strategic and keep what’s happening to you in perspective.

First of all: we all make mistakes. Second of all, we cannot change the past. Those are both trite sayings, but they’re both true and appropriate to the moment.

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