Tuesday, April 23, 2024

DUI News Blog

The Latest DUI News and Information From DUI Defense Attorneys Across the Country

Will Hawaii Be The Next State With A .05% Per Se Blood Alcohol Level?

Hawaiian legislators are again considering lowering Hawaii’s “legal” blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit from 0.08% to 0.05% according to KITV, Channel 4 in Honolulu.  According to a news report, State Sen. Angus McKelvey has introduced such a bill.  Utah is the only other state in the nation with such a low per se alcohol level.

Hawaii Alcohol Policy Alliance Director Rick Collins said about 30% of car crashes in Hawaii involve alcohol. But does that mean that drivers with alcohol levels below .08% caused an accident?

Per se drunk driving laws completely ignore whether the individual is, in fact, under the influence of alcohol. The crime only requires driving (or in some cases, being in physical control of a motor vehicle) with alcohol in the blood above the legal limit. Put another way, a per se law makes a person “automatically” under the influence if their blood alcohol level reaches or exceeds the stated amount.

Generally, speaking, per se laws are concerning because they failed to take into account a person’s tolerance for alcohol. For instance, someone who drinks on a regular basis, may not be affected at all with a .05% (or .08% for that matter) blood, alcohol level, but a person who is a novice drinker may be impaired at .03% (although that would be unusual).

The issue in reducing the per se level is that there are few, if any statistics to indicate that any danger exists due to drivers operating or in physical control of a vehicle while having less than .08% alcohol in their bloodstream. Instead, a per se level below .08% only allows a prosecutor to have an easier job of convicting someone of DUI/OUI/OWI who may not even be impaired.


About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD). Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the NCDD and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.

He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 9th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen).  Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions.  He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and seven foreign countries.  After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019.  During the Spring Semester of 2023, Steve taught as an Adjunct Professor at the Eötvös Loránd University Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary. If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at www.tndui.com.

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Steve Oberman

Steve Oberman

Since graduating from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1980, Mr. Oberman has become established as a national authority on the intricacies of DUI defense law. Steve is a former Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, co-author of a national treatise ("Drunk Driving Defense" published by Aspen/Wolters-Kluwer), and author of "DUI: The Crime and Consequences in Tennessee" (published by Thomson-Reuters/West). He has taught thousands of lawyers, judges, and members of the general public about the intricacies of this crime. Steve was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach American Criminal Law and American Trial Advocacy at the University of Latvia School of Law in 2019; in 2023 taught for a semester as a visiting professor at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Faculty of Law in Budapest, Hungary; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2024. Steve has also presented at a number of judicial conferences in the United States and Canada as well as for law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Czech Republic Police Academy. As a Tennessee DUI attorney, Mr. Oberman has successfully defended over two thousand clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In 2006, Mr. Oberman became the first DUI lawyer in Tennessee to be recognized by the National College for DUI Defense as a Board Certified Specialist in the area of DUI Defense law.

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