Interviewer: What kind of people do you have coming in the office? Do you represent older people or more men than women?
A Driver of Any Age or Background Is Susceptible to an OWI Charge
Attorney Tafelski: With drunk driving, it’s one type of crime that crosses all socioeconomic boundaries and gender boundaries, and race as well. We get all types, but generally our clients are people who have not been in a lot of prior trouble, meaning drunk driving or alcohol-related offenses are typically the only types of problems they’ve had.
Many are first offenders or second offenders and they’re really scared and unfamiliar with the system and they have a lot to lose in their professional and personal lives. That’s our typical client.
Are Many Individuals Charged with OWI Close to the Legal Limit of 0.08?
Interviewer: How about blood alcohol levels? Are they coming in close to the 0.08 limit? Were you seeing many clients with really high blood alcohol level concentrations?
Attorney Tafelski: Typically the average is probably around a 0.14.
Are There Many Drivers That Are Just Somewhat Impaired While They Are Driving?
Interviewer: Do you think people are truly drunk driving or are they just somewhat impaired but they’re getting arrested anyway?
Many People Are under the Impression That They Are Not Truly Inebriated While They Are Driving?
Attorney Tafelski: Most people will feel, in hindsight that maybe they should not have been driving, but they didn’t feel too bad. They didn’t feel impaired. They didn’t feel drunk. They thought they were okay to drive, especially a short distance. That would be the most common description. Some people will come in here and say right off the bat that, “There’s no way I should have been driving. It was just a stupid decision.”
Interviewer: I just wanted to get a feel for reality versus what you see on TV. You do see commercials with a man and his whole car is full of beer. He opens the door or the doors and the window and beer starts pouring out. It just gives the impression that people are driving drunk all over the road. Everyone’s drunk. I want to check reality against that.
The Impairing Effects of Alcohol Affect Every Individual Differently and Is Influenced by Your Body Weight
Attorney Tafelski: One thing that people don’t tend to appreciate is that what your actual blood alcohol level is and that it’s tremendously influenced by how much you weigh. If you’re a 250-pound guy versus 120-pound girl, you can literally drink twice as much and have the same blood alcohol level.
Sometimes a bigger person might only be at a 0.08 or a 0.10 but might feel the effects of the alcohol more than a small, thinner person who’s at a 0.12 or a 0.14, just because that they’ve actually consumed significantly more alcohol. Depending upon their own tolerance and their own frequency of drinking, they may feel the effects of alcohol differently. The BAC sometimes is misleading.
Interviewer: Does it mean, what you’re saying, if someone has a higher level BAC, that that doesn’t necessarily translate into harming their ability to drive?
Attorney Tafelski: The higher the BAC, the less their ability to drive is but there are variables. It really is influenced heavily by the weight of the person. What people often tell me is, “Well, I didn’t eat dinner that night.” Well, that really doesn’t make much of a difference.
It’s really how much did you drink and how much do you weigh as to what your level is. It may make you feel different. It may make you feel fuller or you maybe feel the effects of the alcohol less, but it doesn’t really affect your blood alcohol level very much.