Spitting MADD

Seems to me that there are a few things everyone can agree on, regardless of where you find yourself on the political spectrum: it’s better if the sun is shining on your birthday than if it’s raining, it’s hard not to smile when you see a baby panda sneeze, drunk driving is terrible and NY Governor David Patterson is a phenomenally poor politician.

However, Patterson recently did something that most will agree is a good thing: he just signed Leandra’s Law, a law that makes it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle. The law was lobbied for by Lenny Rosado, the father of 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was killed when the (intoxicated) mother of one of her friends flipped her car on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Manhattan.

But as the holidays approach and alcohol tends to flow a bit more “fluidly,” we want to let you know about some of the laws and facts about drunk driving that we discuss in the book. (That would be the book that you can buy here which will make an excellent stocking stuffer this holiday season!)

  • You don’t have to be driving a car or truck to be arrested for drunk driving. You can be arrested for drunk driving a lawnmower.

Police in St. Cloud, Minnesota, arrested a reckless mower after seeing him careening atop his mobile lawn clipper. They then seized the man’s mower because of his previous DWI convictions. The offense colloquially known as “drunk driving” is the crime of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of more than .08. What people don’t realize is that in most states, “vehicle” is defined very broadly and includes any device that is moved by power other than human power. That includes lawnmowers, tractors, golf carts, motorcycles and motorized bar stools (no kidding). In one case, a guy was arrested for vehicular homicide after he hit and killed a pedestrian while intoxicated. He was driving a bicycle at the time. The charges were eventually dropped but the bottom line is that while drinking, you and your record—and innocent bystanders—are better off when you keep your bottom planted on a (stationary) barstool.

  • You can be cited for alcohol-related charges even if you’re just sitting in the passenger seat of a car.

Open container laws prohibit the possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of any alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of any motor vehicle. If you have an open beer bottle, wine bottle, or any other alcohol container that has previously been opened—even if you are not drinking it in the car, you can be cited if it’s in the passenger area (that is, not in a locked glove compartment or the trunk. Some states even make it a crime to transport any ‘unsealed’ alcoholic beverage container in a locked glove box.). And both the driver and the passenger can be cited. So if you have alcohol, keep it in the trunk until you get to your destination.

  • If you’re “impaired” you can be busted on a DUI charge, even if the only thing you’ve been drinking is cough syrup.

A Milwaukee woman discovered this when she was booked on charges of driving under the influence. When she hit a curb, she raised the suspicion of a police officer who witnessed it and he arrested her for DUI. But she hadn’t been drinking: she’d simply taken over-the-counter cold medicine.

You don’t have to be drunk on alcohol to be arrested, just impaired. That impairment can come from alcohol, illegal drugs, or legally prescribed medications—even over-the-counter medicines. Better to read about potential impairment on the bottle before you take the medication than to see it on the police blotter after the fact.

Comments are closed.