How High BAC Levels Can Affect Your DWI Case
Within the state of New Hampshire, an individual who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can face charges for either an aggravated DWI or a standard DWI. Aggravated DWI criminal charges result in significantly stiffer penalties and occur when the motorist is operating under the influence of alcohol and there exists specific factors that classify the crime as particularly reckless. For example, one of these factors is the operation of a motor vehicle with an extremely high blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
BAC is a term that is used to refer to the amount of alcohol that an individual has in their bloodstream within two hours of their arrest. In our state, a motorist can, pursuant to state statute RSA 265-A: 3, be charged with an aggravated DWI relating to high BAC levels if they attempt to operate, operate, or dive a motor vehicle “whilst having a blood alcohol concentration of .16% or more”.
A Prime Example
An aggravated DWI with high BAC levels charge is fairly common. Any motorist with a blood alcohol content of .16% or higher will more than likely be charged with an aggravated DWI. A local newspaper, The Watertown Daily Times, recently reported that a Merrimack, New Hampshire man was arrested towards the end of February this year when a Jefferson County police officer observed him driving in a reckless manner.
According to the news article, the 39 year old suspect, Shawn Colburn, was stopped after the police officer witnessed him failing to properly maintain his vehicle within his lane. After being stopped, Mr. Colburn admitted that he had consumed several alcoholic drinks and was making his way back to his hotel. He subsequently submitted to a Breathalyzer test which demonstrated that he possessed a BAC level of .021%. Consequently, he was arrested and charged with an aggravated DWI offense.
High BAC Aggravated DWI Statistics
An aggravated DWI with high BAC levels often results in stiffer criminal penalties and sanctions is because, according to numerous statistics, motorists who have high blood alcohol concentrations are considerably more likely to cause collisions that are fatal. Per statistics cited by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), almost one third of all fatal motor vehicular accidents are directly caused by motorists who are intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.
Moreover, additional data reveals that the higher a motorist’s BAC levels are, the more likely they are to cause accidents. As a result, New Hampshire lawmakers and politicians have decided that these motorists should be punished more harshly than other DWI motorists. Common examples of the harsher penalties they face include the required installation of ignition interlock devices and longer periods of driver’s license suspension.
The Center for Disease Control also reports that the biggest number of fatal automobile accidents by impaired and intoxicated motorists involves drivers who possess BAC levels ranging from .13% to upwards of .21%. In a similar fashion, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that, in 2009 alone, 56% of all motorists involved in fatal, alcohol related crashes had BAC levels of .15% or higher. Within our state alone, 15% of all fatal automobile accidents involved motorists with BAC levels of .15% or higher.
The Effects of High BAC Levels
When a person’s blood alcohol content levels begin to exceed the legal limit of .08%, a person’s ability to function, not only as a motorist, begins to suffer.
Take a look at the following list and see how these side effects greatly underscore the truth of the CDC’s and NHTSA’s statistics:
0.07-0.09 BAC: There is a slight impairment of speech, balance, vision, hearing, and reaction time. Feelings of euphoria appear. Self-control and judgment are significantly reduced, and memory, reason, and caution are impaired. A person will probably believe that they are functioning much better than they really are.
0.10-0.125 BAC: A person experiences significant loss of sound judgment and impairment of fine motor skills. Speech may be slurred, and vision, balance, reaction time, and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria may be experienced.
0.13-0.15 BAC: A lack of physical control and gross motor impairment begin to occur. Major loss of balance and blurred vision happen. Euphoria is reduced and dysphoria (restlessness, anxiety) is beginning to appear. Perception and judgment are severely impaired.
0.16-0.19 BAC: Dysphoria predominates, and nausea can appear. The individual has the appearance of what is commonly called being a "sloppy drunk."
0.20 BAC: Felling confused, dazed, or otherwise disoriented is common. A person may require assistance to stand or walk. If a person were to injure themselves, then they may not feel the pain. Some people experience vomiting and nausea at this level. The gag reflex is impaired, and it is not uncommon for people to choke on their own vomit. Blackouts are much more likely at this level, so a person may not remember exactly what has happened.
0.25 BAC: All sensory, physical, and mental functions are severely impaired. There is an increased risk of possible asphyxiation from choking on vomit and of seriously injuring one’s self by falls or through other accidents.
The Importance of Hiring Experienced Legal Representation
If you have been charged with an aggravated DWI charge in the state of New Hampshire, then you are strongly encouraged to speak with an experienced and skilled New Hampshire DWI lawyer immediately. The criminal penalties for a conviction on this charge include a monetary fine of $1,000.00, a minimum of 14 days in incarceration, probation, the required installation of an ignition interlock device, mandatory suspension of one’s driver’s license, a substance abuse evaluation, alcohol and drug counseling and treatment, and random testing.
The best method of avoiding these criminal penalties is to combat your charges with a DWI attorney who can assist you with building a strong and viable defense. At our firm, our NH DWI attorneys pledge to do just that. For a free consultation regarding your case, please contact us today via email, telephone, or through our website. Time is of the essence, so please don’t delay.