Thursday, April 9, 2020
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Why Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Is Considered a Criminal Offense

Most traffic offenses are not categorized as criminal activity. Drivers who are caught driving faster than the speed limit, treating a stop sign as a yield sign, and running a red light usually receive citations and are required to pay a fine. These offenses are not even considered misdemeanors, although drivers can have a license suspension if they repeat this behavior. In contrast, driving under the influence of alcohol is considered a crime in all 50 states.

Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses

In most states, the first and second convictions of DUI are classified as misdemeanors. The offense is considered a crime instead of a moving violation because the behavior is so hazardous. Another type of driving behavior classified as a misdemeanor in most states is texting behind the wheel. Distracted driving of all sorts now causes more serious accidents than drunk driving does.

Felony Charges

Felony charges might be imposed for repeated offenses and in certain circumstances. For instance, if a drunk driver causes an accident, this might be charged as a felony. The same could be true if a minor child were in the car when the driver was stopped for suspicion of DUI. If the driver injures someone in a collision, this could result in a prison sentence of more than a year. Misdemeanors and felonies both appear on a person’s criminal history, which can have negative consequences in a broad range of future aspects.

Troubling Statistics

Nationwide, more than 10,000 individuals are killed in crashes every year in which alcohol was a factor, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another grim statistic is that 17 percent of collision-related fatalities in children age 14 years and younger involved a drunk driver.

It’s difficult to estimate how many people on the road are driving while intoxicated. More than 1 million drivers are arrested for DUI every year in this country, and the probability is high that most people driving after drinking are not caught. Police are only supposed to stop drivers who have made an error, or whose vehicles have a safety issue like a burned-out taillight. That leaves many people still driving when they should not be.