uber-driver-DUIIt’s bad enough that a DUI conviction can wipe out your bank account or drive up your credit card bill. Between the fines, court costs and other associated expenses—like DUI driver school tuition and added commuting costs—you could pay as much as $7,500 out of pocket. But you could also face a longer-term problem of unemployment. When you lose your job because of a DUI or struggle to get a new one afterwards, it adds insult to injury.

If you’ve been earning some extra cash as an Uber or a Lyft driver, you’ll have to find another way to fill your wallet. Uber is already fairly picky about DUIs on a driving record; in California, Uber won’t even hire you if your record shows that you’ve had a DUI within the last 10 years.

But what if you’ve been working as an Uber driver, and then you get a DUI? Will you be able to keep driving?

Every 51 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident. Everyone—DUI defendants included!—agrees that we need to “do something” to dramatically reduce this number, but there’s no agreement on what that solution should be. Traditionally, our system has been heavy on the sticks, light on the carrots. We punish DUI drivers tremendously—by stripping them of driving privileges, fining them, sending them to jail, hiking their insurance rates, and beyond. How well is this “heavy on the punitive” system working? Well, take a look at the first sentence in this paragraph—one death every 51 minutes. If we want to do better—and we can—we need to look beyond the punitive and consider other ways to shore up our system, deter unwanted behavior, reward compliant behavior and solve the (challenging and often deeply psychologically rooted) issues that encourage unfortunate behavior behind the wheel.DUI-51-minutes-300x94

In a previous post, we looked at the current and future technologies that could address DUI deterrence. Now we’ll consider some of the other proposed solutions.

Lowering the BAC limit?

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.

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