Alcohol & Driving: How To Make Sure You’re On The Right Side Of The Law In Every State

As a driver, it is your responsibility to make smart and safe decisions every time you get behind the wheel. You follow the rules of the road such as the speed limit, parking restrictions, and so on, so what about when it comes to alcohol and driving? There are many laws in place that you should be following anytime you imbibe alcohol (or other substances that might affect your driving abilities). Here’s a rundown of what you need to know to stay safe.

Is it illegal to drive with any alcohol in your system?

In most states, you are permitted to drive with alcohol in your system if it’s at a very low level. However, if you are acting impaired or are making poor decisions behind the wheel, you can still be penalized even if you’re under the legal limit.

Many states have Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) laws that help law enforcement and prosecutors determine whether you were unable to operate a vehicle safely because of alcohol intake. This especially comes into play if you’re involved in an accident where someone has been injured or killed.

Is drunk driving illegal in all 50 states?

At this time, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher in all 50 states. In order to avoid fines or jail time, you must have a lower BAC when you’re tested (either in the field or at a police station). At a 0.08% level, drivers are so impaired that they’re 11 times more likely to have a single-vehicle car accident than drivers with no alcohol in their system.

Dr Handicap - driving car
Image by Hannah Sutherland on Unsplash: Drunk driving laws by state can vary, so look up regulations in your home state.

Alcohol and driving: rules to know

Here’s what you should know anytime you’re going to be drinking and driving.

The nationwide legal limit

As mentioned above, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.08% or higher on a Breathalyzer or a blood test. Typically, a single drink is either one shot of liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine, or one beer (which all contain about the same amount of alcohol). A 120-pound woman can reach a 0.08% after only two drinks and a 180-pound man can reach it after only four drinks. Keep this in mind when you decide to drink before driving – you can become impaired fairly quickly.

Your specific state’s legal limit

Aside from the nationwide legal limit, there can be drunk driving laws that vary by state. These different laws can impose more regulations regarding impaired drivers. For example, Arizona has the standard 0.08% BAC limit, but drivers can also be charged with Extreme DUIs for having a BAC over 0.15% or Super Extreme for having a BAC over 0.20%. These come with much higher penalties.

Your best bet is to do some research on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for your particular state. Becoming educated can help ensure that you’re never breaking the law when you get behind the wheel.

Driving restrictions when traveling to other states

If you’re going to be traveling or driving in a state other than your own, it can be helpful to look up their specific laws and regulations as well. This can help you understand what is legally permitted in that particular state before you travel there.

The consequences in your state

The consequences of drinking and driving can vary greatly depending on the state you’re driving in. Some states have more stringent laws than others. Let’s look at California, for example: a person convicted of a DUI here faces imprisonment in a county jail for anywhere from 96 hours to six months and has to pay a fine of $390–$1,000. Their license can be suspended for six months. A second DUI is even more serious, with jail for 90 days to one year, a similar fine, and a license suspension for two years. Each DUI after that gets increasingly severe punishments.

If you’ve been in an accident where someone was hurt (or even killed), the consequences are much more dire. California also has strict penalties for drivers who drive drunk with minors in the car. It’s vital to make sure that you fully understand what could happen before you get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

Dr Handicap - breathalyzer
Image by miguelrd68 on Pixabay: If you’re suspected of driving under the influence, police can do Breathalyzer tests on the scene.

How to tell your own limit

Alcohol can have varying effects on a person because of different metabolisms, body chemistry, weight, etc., so you should become very familiar with what your own limits are. You might feel impaired after just one drink; it’s quite possible for your reaction times to slow after this amount. Therefore, you should understand your own body and make appropriate choices to ensure the safety of yourself and everyone else on the road.

You don’t have to get behind the wheel after you’ve had a drink. Remember that getting a ride from Uber or Lyft or calling a cab can be a much smarter way to go if you’ve been drinking. Always make the safest decision so that you’re not endangering yourself or others. Know your own limits and research the laws in your state, and you’ll be able to stay safe and on the right side of the law!

Featured image by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Can Disabled Drivers Drive In HOV (Carpool) Lanes?

A disabled parking permit is a very useful thing to own. Disabled permits enable their holders to park in wheelchair-accessible parking spaces. These spaces exist in every public parking lot in the nation and are located as close as possible to the accessible entrances of the amenities they serve.

Disabled permit holders are entitled to park in any on-street disabled parking spaces. In most jurisdictions, a disabled permit also entitles its holder to park in metered, on-street spaces for free, and often for unlimited time.

Disabled permits are intended to enable people with mobility issues and physical disabilities to get around more easily and live life on their own terms. But does a disabled parking permit entitle its holder to drive in HOV lanes?

Dr Handicap - highway lanes
Image by Sandy Manoa on Unsplash: Can disabled drivers drive in HOV (carpool) lanes?

What Is A HOV Lane?

A HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane is reserved for vehicles carrying more than one person. Buses and private vehicles that are carrying several people can use HOV lanes. HOV lanes are intended to encourage people to travel in groups, which is better for the environment and helps to keep roads clearer and less congested.

How Can You Recognize A HOV Lane?

HOV lanes are usually the left-most lane on a road. They are marked with a distinctive diamond logo. This diamond logo will usually be on signposts and painted at intervals on the tarmac.

What Is The Difference Between HOV And Carpool?

There is no difference between HOV and carpool. HOV means “high occupancy vehicle”, and carpool is simply another word for the same thing.

Why Is Using The HOV Lane Such An Advantage?

Using the HOV lane is a big advantage because it is almost always much emptier of traffic than regular lanes. This means driving in the HOV lane can make your journey time a lot shorter. Using the HOV lane is less stressful and makes journeys quicker. Even when a highway is very congested, the HOV lane will usually be moving freely.

Using the HOV lane is also much better for the environment because it means that more people are traveling but less vehicles are being used.

How Do You Qualify For The Carpool Lane?

In some states you need to apply for a carpool lane sticker to use the HOV lane. In other states carpool lanes are monitored by cameras that check each vehicle to make sure it has enough passengers to legally use the lane.

Who Can Use The HOV Lane?

In most states, the following vehicles may use HOV lanes:

  • Vehicles with two or more persons
  • Buses
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Alternative fuel vehicles (such as electric cars)
Dr Handicap - public transit
Image by Free-photos on Pixabay: Buses can travel in carpool lanes.

What Are The HOV Lane Rules?

Only qualifying vehicles may use the HOV lane. Illegal use of the HOV lane is a misdemeanor offense and is punishable with a fine and possible legal fees. Subsequent offenses will result in bigger fines and points on the offending driver’s record.

Can Disabled Drivers Drive In HOV Lanes?

A disabled parking permit, in and of itself, does not entitle its holder to drive in the HOV lane. In most areas, the only way a disabled driver can use the HOV lane is if they are driving a qualifying vehicle or if they have two or more people traveling in their vehicle.

However, in certain jurisdictions where it is possible for solo drivers to pay a toll to access the HOV lane – Houston, Texas, for example – disabled veterans can use the lanes without paying the toll.

What Is A Disabled Parking Permit?

A disabled parking permit is a document issued by the DMV that enables its holder to avail of the disabled parking infrastructure in their home state. Disabled parking permits from each state are also recognized in all other US states, as well as many other countries such as Canada, Mexico, the UK, Japan, and all EU countries.

What Are The Qualifying Conditions For A Disabled Parking Permit?

The qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit vary slightly state by state. However, the main list of conditions that forms the foundation for all states is:

  • Not being able to walk 200 ft without needing to stop to rest.
  • Not being able to walk without the aid of an assistive device.
  • Being legally blind.
  • Having a cardiovascular condition.
  • Lung disease.
  • Any condition that necessitates the use of a portable oxygen tank.
  • A neurological, arthritic, or orthopedic condition.

How Do You Get A Disabled Parking Permit?

The best way to get a disabled parking permit is to arrange an online consultation with a medical professional through Dr. Handicap.

Featured image by Dan Gold on Unsplash

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