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

What States Allow Free Handicap Parking?

Disabled parking permit holders tend to have a lot of questions about whether or not disabled parking is always free. We often get asked questions such as… Where do I have to pay for disabled parking? Can I park for free at a meter with a handicap placard? Do all states have the same disabled parking rules?

Let’s dive in to answer all these questions and more.

Is Disabled Parking Free?

The answer to this question is that it depends on which state you’re in and the type of disabled parking you’re talking about.

Certain forms of handicap parking are free for disabled permit holders in all states. However, not all states allow free handicap parking across the board.

Dr Handicap - disabled parking sign
Image by Shutterbug75 on Pixabay: Is disabled parking free in every state?

What Are The Rules Around Paying For Parking As A Disabled Person?

In all states, disabled parking permit holders can park in designated disabled parking spaces for free. However, not all states allow permit holders to park in metered, on-street spaces for free.

Can You Park For Free At A Meter With A Handicap Placard?

Whether or not you can park for free at a meter with a disabled parking permit depends on where you are. Some states allow permit-holders to park for free in metered spaces and others do not. Some states have no blanket rule and instead leave it up to each municipality within the state to set their own rules.

Where Do You Have To Pay For Disabled Parking?

In some states, you need to pay to park in metered, on-street spaces. In certain private parking lots, in most states, you will also need to pay to park as a disabled driver.

Disabled Parking Permits And Time-Restricted Parking

Many states allow disabled permit holders to park in time-restricted parking spaces for either unlimited time, or for an extended period of time. However, these states do not necessarily allow permit holders to park in these spaces for free.

What States Allow Free Handicap Parking?

The states that allow all disabled permit holders to park for free in metered, on-street spaces are:

  • California – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time.
  • Florida – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for up to four hours.
  • Hawaii – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for two and a half hours or for the maximum time the meter allows.
  • Idaho – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time.
  • Illinois – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time, except at meters with a maximum time of 30 minutes or less.
  • Kansas – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces free for up to 24 hours.
  • Maine – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for up to twice the maximum time allowed.
  • Minnesota – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time.
  • New Hampshire – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for free for varying periods of time decided by local municipal authorities.
  • Oregon – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time, except at meters with a maximum time of 30 minutes or less.
  • South Carolina – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time.
  • Tennessee – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time.
  • Texas – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for an unlimited time.
  • Utah – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for reasonable periods of time.
  • Virginia – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for up to four hours.
  • Washington DC – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for double the maximum time allowed.
  • Washington State – Disabled parking permit holders may park for free in metered, on-street spaces for the maximum time shown on the parking signs.
Dr Handicap - parking sign
Image by AbsolutVision on Pixabay: Several states allow disabled drivers to park for free in metered spaces.

Do States Recognize Disabled Parking Permits From Other States?

All American states recognize disabled parking permits issued by all other states. American disabled parking permits are also recognized in several foreign countries, including:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Japan
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • All European Union countries

What Are The Qualifying Conditions For A Disabled Parking Permit?

The most common qualifying conditions for a disabled parking permit are:

  • An inability to walk 200 feet without needing to stop to rest
  • Any condition that necessitates the use of a walking aid such as a wheelchair, crutch, cane, prosthetic device, or another person.
  • A heart condition (classified Class III or IV by the American Heart Association)
  • Lung disease
  • Any condition that necessitates the use of a portable oxygen tank
  • Being an amputee
  • A neurological, arthritic, or orthopedic condition
  • Legal blindness

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 licensed medical professional through Dr. Handicap. Once the medical professional has verified your disability, they will provide support to help you to access your state’s disabled parking program and submit your disabled parking permit application.

Featured image by Jonathan J. Castellon on Unsplash

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