Archive for January, 2014

DUI vs DWT: Which Is More Dangerous? Which Is More Severely Punished?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Which is more dangerous to human life: driving  under the influence of alcohol — or driving while texting? 

Texting Could Be More Dangerous Than Drunken Driving

June 25 –This morning, NBC’s “Today” show featured a story on how driving while texting could be more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol. Car & Driver has developed a test to measure the difference in reaction times when driving while reading an email, actively texting and driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08, the legal limit. The test takes place on an abandoned air strip.

In terms of reaction time, both reading an email and texting were far worse than being inebriated for the older subject, Car & Driver Editor in Chief Eddie Alterman, 37. A 22-year-old intern also took the same tests and was quicker in all scenarios, with barely a variance between the three.

Ok….So which carries a jail sentence  and license suspension — or is even illegal?  

No More Texting While Driving

Frederiscksburg, VA.  June 25 –Virginia has banned text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. The ban starts July 1, the day most new state laws go into effect…

The fine for a first violation is $20, and $50 for a second violation. Driving and texting will be considered a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement officers must have another reason to stop or arrest  a driver.




Breath Testing Alcoholics — and “Catch-22″

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

It may not surprise you to find out that alcoholics arrested for DUI will generally have higher blood-alcohol readings. It may surprise you, however, to learn that alcoholics will often have higher blood-alcohol readings because they are alcoholics – not because they  have higher levels of alcohol.

That’s right. It’s because the physiology of alcoholics is different in some important respects.

One of those is that their bodies produce more acetaldehyde — far more. Acetaldehyde? That’s a compound produced in the liver in small amounts as a by-product in the metabolism of alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol in the lungs has been found to metabolize there as well as in the liver — and to produce acetaldehyde there.

The amount of acetaldehyde produced in the lungs (to then be breathed into the breathalyzer) varies from person to person. "Origin of Breath Acetaldehyde During Ethanol Oxidation: Effect of Long-Term Cigarette Smoking", 100 Journal of Laboratory Clinical Medicine 908. But in a study focusing on alcoholics, researchers discovered that the amount of acetaldehyde in the breath and blood of alcoholics was 5 to 55 times higher than that in nonalcoholics. "Elevated Blood Acetaldehyde in Alcoholics and Accelerated Ethanol Elimination", 13 (Supp 1) Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 119.

End result: since breathalyzers can’t tell the difference between alcohol and acetaldehyde (see earlier post, "Why Breathalyzers Don’t Measure Alcohol"), alcoholics will usually have falsely higher blood-alcohol readings.