DWI is a serious problem in North Carolina and around the country. In 2013, there were almost 50,000 DWI arrests in North Carolina alone. Drunk drivers are responsible for numerous deaths and injuries every year. Drunk driving also causes significant property damage.
For the driver, a DWI is an expensive proposition. It can result in thousands of dollars of legal fees and civil fines. Drivers lose their license for at least a year, and multiple offenders may lose their driving privileges permanently. Multiple offenders may also find their vehicles seized and sold by the state. A DWI conviction will show up on a background check, meaning it may affect your ability to get the job you want. In other words, you really don’t want to be arrested for a DWI. Sometimes, though, it can be tough to judge when you shouldn’t get behind the wheel. Several new apps aim to help you avoid just that issue.
Have A Plan App
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee have partnered to create the Have A Plan app. The app is designed mainly to help you get home safely. It allows you to program a list of designated drivers to call if you think you may have had too much. It will also help you call a nearby taxi – it uses your location services on your phone so that you can call a cab even if you’re not sure where you are. It has a BAC estimator – you input your physical information and the number of drinks you’ve had and it produces an estimate of your BAC. It has games to test your coordination in a way similar to the field sobriety tests used by police when they pull over a suspected drunk driver. The app is also full of useful information about DWI laws and penalties. Finally, you can use the app to report a suspected drunk driver. The app is free on iTunes and the Android store.
Remember that the app’s BAC estimator is just that – an estimator. It can’t measure your exact BAC. Everyone has a slightly different reaction to alcohol and your BAC can be influenced by many factors, including your personal physiology, what you’ve eaten that day, and more.
If you’re looking for a more exact measure, you can check out the Breathometer. It’s a personal breathalyzer test. You plug it into your smartphone and blow into it and it gives you information on your BAC. You don’t actually have to put your mouth on the device, so you and all your friends can use it without worrying about mouthpieces or other equipment. It also offers a “Back to Zero” time, which is an estimate of how long it will take for you to sober up. Like the Have A Plan app, the Breathometer app allows you to call someone from your list of designated drivers, call an Uber, or find the closest cab. It will also locate nearby restaurants so you can have a bite to eat and nearby hotels in case you’re far from home. Finally, Breathometer can show you your historical test results so you can track your drinking patterns. The Breathometer device costs $50 and the app is available on iTunes and Android.
The Breathometer will actually measure your BAC. The legal limit in North Carolina is 0.08 for most drivers. For those with prior convictions or for commercial truck drivers, the limit is 0.04. Those under 21 must have a BAC of 0.0 to drive. However, you may still be convicted of a DWI if your BAC is under 0.08. Officers will look for evidence of intoxication, and you may be weaving or driving erratically with a lower BAC. That’s still considered drunk driving.
The DIY Option
If you’d rather not use a specific app, your smartphone can still help you make smart choices about drinking and driving. Put a designated driver as a contact in your phone so you or a friend can easily find and call that number. Use an Uber if you’re not sure how to get home; their app allows their drivers to find you even if you’re not sure where you are. You can even create a note in your phone to keep track of how many drinks you’ve had and at what time. That will help you pace yourself, for which your wallet and your arrest record will thank you. Know that you can always ask a bartender to call you a cab. Some cab companies will even offer you a free ride if you call because you don’t feel comfortable driving home. Park in a spot that you can leave your car in overnight in case you need to leave it there.
We Can Help
If you’re arrested for driving drunk in North Carolina, with or without the aid of an app, we can help. Check out our other blog posts on the DWI arrest process, DWI Breath Tests: Know Your Rights, how to defend against a DWI, ignition interlock systems, DWI penalties, and more for more information about DWI laws and the DWI process in North Carolina. If you’re arrested for a DWI, contact us immediately for a free consultation. A DWI is a legal charge and the state has to follow you’re facing extremely severe penalties in order to convict you. If they make a mistake, your case may be thrown out entirely. Even if the state follows proper procedure, we can help you fight the charges. Whether you decide to download a DWI app or not, put our number in your phone so you’re ready for anything.