Drunk Driving as a Tourist in the U.S. – What You Should Know

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Given the fact that around 40% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. are caused by drunk driving and the excessive use of alcohol, you can expect this to be a genuine problem, as well as one that’s seriously taken care of by the authorities.

Looking at some statistics, we can see that over 1.8 million people are arrested yearly for drunk driving. It is assumed that there are millions of other people who drive under the influence and remain untouched by the law.

In most cases, a DUI lawyer can be very helpful when you are in think kind of trouble – so let’s take a look at what you should know if you might be driving drunk as a tourist in the U.S. Naturally, our sole recommendation is to refrain from doing it – you will soon discover why.

Alcohol Limits

When you are in the U.S., you are unfit to drive if your breath contains 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml – or if your blood contains 80 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml.

In most American states, you are considered as driving under the influence of alcohol if your blood-alcohol content, abbreviated as BAC, is 0.1%. There may be cases when this limit can be lower, such as 0.08%. If you are minor, however, the limit goes down to 0.05%.

Keep in mind that some states have their own rules. Therefore, before supposing that you are within a certain limit, check the drunk driving laws of the states you plan to visit.

For example, there are states in which you may be charged with driving while impaired if your BAC is above a certain level – for instance, between 0.05 and 0.09%.

However, you may be charged only if you’ve been involved in an accident or driving recklessly.

Tests You May Have to Take

Even though the police need a good reason to stop your vehicle before they demand you take a breathalyzer test, a few permit them randomly.
It is well known that police officers usually try to detect alcohol by sniffing the air inside your vehicle after stopping you. They may also try to find a reason to perform a sobriety test.

Here is how you can be tested:

  • You may be asked to count numbers or recite the alphabet.
  • You may have to stand on one foot for a certain time period, walk in a straight line, or even touch the tip of your nose with one of your index fingers while your eyes are closed.
  • When it comes to chemical tests, you may have to take a blood, breath, saliva, or urine alcohol test.

If you refuse to take one of the aforementioned tests, your driving license may be automatically revoked or suspended.

Penalties for Drunk Driving

If you are caught driving under the influence, you may face on-the-spot license revocation or suspension, fines, community service, or even imprisonment.

The first drunk driving conviction will result in a heavy fine, as well as in the revocation of your license, usually for up to six months. However, in around 40 U.S. states, you may be imprisoned from 1 to 60 days after your first or second offense.

Given the issues caused by drunk driving, people in the U.S. are encouraged to call 911 if they spot a drunk driver or even if they carry an open alcohol container.

The Bottom Line

In the end, we strongly recommend to avoid drinking alcohol if you are going to drive a car while visiting the U.S. Chances are that police officers and other officials may behave differently with you – not because you are a tourist, but because you are a tourist who decided to endanger the U.S. roads by drinking alcohol and driving.

To avoid any issues related to alcohol, we recommend you stay away from it while driving and to keep it back in the boot if you have to take it with you.

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