DUIs carry consequences

Ryan McBride

Driving under the influence is a crime that doesn’t just affect one age group, social class or race.

This is a crime Western police have arrested 79 people for from Aug. 1, 2002 to April 25, 2003. This number is down 26 percent compared to the same time last school year.

Campus police officer Craig Beckmann said driving impaired is a serious offense.

“If you drive drunk, you could ruin a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “There is no reason for someone to get behind the wheel after drinking.”

According to local attorneys, the penalties for DUI can be costly in both time and money.

For a first offense DUI, Bowling Green defense attorney Kelly Thompson said the offender could receive a 90-day license suspension, but there is no jail time if they plead guilty.

Amanda Johnson, district criminal bench clerk, said a second offense within the next five years costs a DUI offender a minimum of seven days in jail and a minimum $720.50 fine. A third offense results in at least 30 days in jail with a minimum $870.50 fine.

Fourth-time offenders spend a minimum of 120 days in prison, and are fined between $1,000 and $10,000, she said.

If the offender blows over .18, jail time doubles, Johnson said.

In each instance, the offender is also billed for an alcohol treatment program and evaluation, court costs, Department of Motor Vehicle charges and lodging costs from the jail.

Wayne Hoffman, a certified alcohol and drug counselor at LEAP, an outpatient treatment program, said outpatient treatment is $15 per week for 90 days. Second time DUI offenders must spend 52 weeks in treatment, which totals $780.

According to Thompson, the key to less severe punishment is to remain calm and respect police and jail officers by being courteous and submissive.

There are a number of indicators police can look for to determine is someone is driving impaired. The two biggest indicators are turning with a wide radius and straddling the center lane, according to information from campus police crime prevention officer Joe Harbaugh. Other indicators include drifting, swerving, braking erratically or not having illuminated headlights.

Even with strict regulations, Thompson said nearly 30 percent of cases are won by defendants.

Campus police Sgt. Kerry Hatchett said avoiding a DUI is easy.

“Don’t drink, and if you do, have a true designated driver,” he said. “You’ve got to have someone you can trust that isn’t going to drink anything at anytime. I can’t even give you a number of how many times I’ve taken the designated driver to jail for DUI.”

Herald reporter Abbey Brown contributed to this story.

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