Shortly before he was convicted of DUI manslaughter in the death of fellow motorist and the serious injury of his passenger, a Hoover man conceded he’d had too much to drink while watching the 2012 Iron Bowl game on television.
He said he knew after the crash that getting behind the wheel after drinking so much was a mistake. If only he’d come to that realization before he put the key in the ignition.
And that’s the problem with so many DUI offenders – their failure to first think through the consequences. There is however technology that takes the choice away for previous offenders. DUI injury lawyers in Birmingham note Alabama just became the 21st state in the country to adopt an ignition-interlock law.
Ignition-interlock devices, which prevent a car from being operational until the driver passes a breathalyzer test, were available through Alabama courts for the last three years, but only at the discretion of judges in certain cases. Never until now were they mandatory for certain offenders.
Previously, the law indicated that an IID could be imposed on DUI offenders whose blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent at the time of arrest. That’s nearly twice the legal limit. Now the new law, signed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, lowers that limit to 0.08 percent.
The option of ignition interlock will be available to offenders who choose it in lieu of having their license suspended for an extended period of time.
Alabama is among the top 10 worst states for drunk driving deaths in the country, according to a new report from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. The report indicated Alabama tied for 7th worst with South Dakota, each tallying 5.3 drunk driving deaths for every 100,000 residents in 2012.
The report also indicated more than 60 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher. In 2012, Alabama reported 257 drunk driving fatalities.
One of those was the case recently before the court in Bessemer, where authorities say the fatal crash happened as the victim was leaving a grocery store parking lot. It was about 7:30 p.m., and the driver was pulling out of the parking lot when he was t-boned by the intoxicated driver.
Immediately after the crash, the other driver was walking around and talking and even declined to be transported to the hospital. However, family members arrived on scene and insisted he be examined by a physician. His injuries turned out to be more serious than they seemed, and he was pronounced dead three hours later of internal bleeding.
Investigators said the impaired driver’s blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. He had gone out shortly after the game to get more beer and cigarettes. Police say he was traveling 75 mph in a 45 mph zone.
“I made a mistake,” the driver told the court, to which the prosecutor replied, “You made a decision.”
For that decision, he was convicted and will soon be sentenced.
In the meantime, the hope is that the new ignition interlock law may prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
Alabama fan convicted in fatal DUI crash, April 10, 2014, News Courier