April is Alcohol Awareness Month: Get the Facts!
At Draeger, we take alcohol awareness very seriously. We manufacture ignition interlock devices which are central to DUI prevention and safe driving practices. April is a big deal for us.
Why is April Alcohol Awareness Month?
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. All month long, we work alongside a number of drunk driving advocates and companies to raise awareness around drunk driving statistics, legal alcohol limits, differences between a DUI vs a DWI, and how to recognize the signs of substance abuse or addiction.
April is focused on answering all the questions surrounding alcohol awareness, no matter how big or small.
In this post, we’ll serve up all the details on Alcohol Awareness Month events plus 9 amazing facts about alcohol to help you answer some important questions like:
- How did Alcohol Awareness Month come about?
- What does BAC stand for?
- What is an OVI?
- Is a DUI a felony?
We’d also like to answer a few other important questions like:
- Is there a reliable breathalyzer app?
- Can mouthwash affect my BAC?
- Can you get a DUI on a horse?
April is the month for all of these questions related to alcohol awareness, and Draeger is here to help you answer them. Let’s cover Alcohol Awareness month events, why ignition interlock devices are needed, and some weird but true facts about alcohol you never knew.
The horse thing is really a surprise, so keep reading.
Alcohol Awareness Month Events in April
Being involved in a DUI is not something anyone plans on. It is messy, dangerous, and, above all, costly.
That’s why April is full of events to raise awareness surrounding alcohol and its effects on our bodies, lives, and loved ones. Here are a few examples:
- National Alcohol Screening Day: April 5th
- Alcohol-Free Weekend: April 6th – 8th, 2018
- Walk Like MADD: dates vary by city
National Alcohol Screening Day: April 5th
Thursday, April 5th, is National Alcohol Screening Day. The tests at these events raise awareness of the most important issues when it comes to drunk driving.
This day and the events associated with it can be one of the most helpful days during Alcohol Awareness Month for individuals to get help and learn more about issues that may be affecting them.
Universities, colleges, and military institutions nationwide use this day to raise alcohol awareness and explain the most common factors involved in drunk driving cases. These events usually include informative talks, guest speakers, and questionnaires for individuals who may feel that they are at risk of drunk driving or alcohol abuse.
Alcohol-Free Weekend: April 6th – 8th, 2018
Right after National Alcohol Screening Day, many people pledge to remain alcohol-free for the entire weekend. They do this in solidarity with those affected by alcohol abuse and addiction.
This can be a great way for people to show their support for Alcohol Awareness Month. What’s more, it’s an immediate insight into life without alcohol. For people having problems with alcohol addiction, spotting one’s own symptoms is difficult. Think of it as a push to help people try sobriety.
One fun night while sober can show a person how closely their habits of having fun are tied to the habit of drinking. Sometimes you have to try things to change your habits.
All it takes is a conscious decision to join in this part of Alcohol Awareness Month. The result will be insight into the effect alcohol has on a person’s life and the lives of those around them. Plus, waking up without a hangover on Sunday is always a bonus.
Walk Like MADD in April
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, (MADD), is an incredibly influential national organization devoted not just to alcohol awareness, but the change it can inspire. MADD’s effect on the U.S. state drinking laws across the country is just one example.
Central to MADD’s mission is helping to raise awareness about drunk driving, alcohol abuse, and responsible use.
In fact, many states like California require that drivers convicted of a DUI attend a MADD Victim Impact Panel as part of sentencing or license reinstatement. These panels are another way MADD helps raise alcohol awareness all year long by putting a face on the statistics we all know.
These panels give DUI offenders the opportunity to hear personal experiences from victims of drunk drivers and to truly understand their pain, hardship and loss caused by an alcohol-related traffic incident or death.
Sometimes, we make decisions that we know are risky for us and for others. We should remember and consider the statistics.
These numbers can be overwhelming, shocking and astounding. But, they are also impersonal. Without a way to connect with the research, these astounding statistics might not make the impact that they have the potential to do.
Hearing from a brother that lost his sibling at a MADD Victim Impact Panel or walking alongside a husband that lost his wife due to drunk driver turns statistics into faces that just might remind you of someone you hold close.
More than just raising alcohol awareness, organizations like MADD inspire us to make empathetic, conscious decisions and consider the larger impact of our choices.
April Walk Like MADD Alcohol Awareness Event Details:
April 7th, 2018
- Gainesville, FL: Gainesville Walk Like MADD
- Beaumont, TX: Beaumont Walk like MADD
- Kilgore, TX: Gregg County Walk like MADD
April 14th, 2018
- Columbia, SC: Columbia Walk like MADD
April 21st, 2018
- Altamonte Springs, FL: Central Florida Walk Like MADD
- Tallahassee, FL: Tallahassee Walk Like MADD
- Dublin, CA: Dublin Walk Like MADD
April 28th, 2018
- Hershey, PA: Hershey Walk Like MADD
- Hamden, CT: Tri-Town Walk Like MADD
- Rapid City, SD: Rapid City Walk like MADD
April 29th, 2018
- Ft. Lauderdale: WLM and MADD Dash 5K
Times and dates vary by city, so be sure to check the official Walk Like MADD event page for the most up-to-date details.
Alcohol Awareness Month: 9 Interesting Facts You Never Knew
While most would agree that drinking and driving is unsafe as well as illegal, information on state specific Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) limits and DUI consequences is often hard to find.
Reading through laws in legal English and making sense of DMV regulations can make it seem almost impossible to get straightforward information quickly and easily.
How can we follow the laws if we don’t understand them? Or, worse: we don’t know they exist?
For us at Draeger, Alcohol Awareness Month is just as much about preventing alcohol-related legal trouble as it about raising the alarm regarding substance abuse and how to get help.
Knowledge is power, which is why we’ve put together 9 interesting facts about alcohol and society to help you be more aware of alcohol and the law:
1. A DUI Can be a Misdemeanor or a Felony
Is a DUI a felony? This is a question that has raced through a lot of people’s minds while on the side of the road, but first offenders can rest easy. In most US states, a first offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor.
However, multiple offenders are likely to have their DUI charged as a felony in most states. In Arizona, a DUI can be raised to a felony if you received your DUI while your license was suspended, especially if it is due to a past DUI.
You could also be facing felony charges in Arizona if it’s your third DUI within seven years or if you were arrested for a DUI when you had a child in your vehicle under the age of 15.
In California, you can also face felony charges if your driving leads to the injury of another person. In Virginia, you can also be prosecuted with a Class 6 felony if your DUI was the third offense within ten years. In this state, a fourth DUI will require mandatory time in jail for at least one year.
So although a minor DUI may only be charged as a misdemeanor, causing an accident or injury can lead to your facing felony charges and quite possibly jail time.
2. A DUI Can Have an Alias
DUI, OVI, DWI . . . what’s the difference?
The main difference between these varied terms for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is the state in which they are used. For example, New Mexico uses the term DWI while California uses DUI.
When most people think of a DUI vs DWI, they just think that it’s a simple word difference of “under the influence” vs” while intoxicated”.
In many states, a DWI is a term used for more serious drunk driving offenses while a DUI is used for minor issues and first offenses. Often defendants can choose to plea down to a DUI from a DWI in order to receive a smaller or less drastic sentencing.
But, it’s not just about a DUI vs. DWI. There are other terms to consider. Let’s break down the various names for DUI:
- DUI: Driving Under the Influence, the most commonly used term for drunk driving.
- DWI: Driving While Intoxicated, usually used for more serious drunk driving offences.
- OVI: An “OVI” is another name for being charged with a crime for operating vehicles under the influence. It stands for “Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated” and functions similarly in terms of consequences to a DUI.
Regardless of location, most states call for the installation of an ignition interlock device either as part of sentencing or as a voluntary measure to reinstate your license more quickly.
This device is essentially a car breathalyzer that hooks up to your car’s ignition switch. You blow into it and if the interlock device detects any trace of alcohol, your car will not start for a certain amount of time. It seems like a straightforward concept, but not every car breathalyzer is created equal.
3. Setting the Legal Drinking Age is up to the States
If you were to ask a Canadian what the legal drinking age is in the U.S., our Neighbor to the North would probably answer “21”. Our Canadian friend wouldn’t be wrong.
But, the truth is that there really is no a federally-imposed drinking age in the U.S.
Considering states don’t usually agree on States Rights issues, why has every state decided on 21 when it comes to this one?
The answer is the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. Signed by President Reagan, this statute was largely brought about thanks to MADD’s lobbying efforts.
This piece of legislation calls for a little quid pro quo between the states. It leveraged the fact that states receive federal funding for infrastructure projects like highways and waterways.
Basically, states could either raise their minimum drinking age to 21 or say goodbye to up to 10% of federal highway funds.
Take Wisconsin, for example. Until the mid-80s, Wisconsiners as young as 16 could enjoy a beer in public. Since then, the state raised its drinking age to 19 and then to 21 a few years later following the National Minimum Drinking Age Act.
Interestingly, Wisconsin is currently debating whether or not to change its drinking age back to 16.
4. Ignition Interlock Devices and Mouthwash
Did you know mouthwash, due to the alcohol content, can cause a failed breath test in some ignition interlock devices? As ignition interlock device providers, we’ve heard some interesting anecdotes from our customers all across the country. We’d like to pass on one of these personal experiences in particular to help you avoid a huge hassle.
It’s an early morning and you’re getting ready for work. You finish up your cup of morning Joe and brush your teeth. Last step: take a refreshing swig of mouthwash. Rinse. You grab your keys and head out the door. You hope traffic isn’t so bad because you’re already running a few minutes late.
A few months back, you were pulled over for and later convicted of a DUI. Your license was suspended. As a way to get your license back as quickly as possible, you opted to have an ignition interlock device, or IID, installed in your vehicle.
When you want to start your car, you have to blow to confirm you’re not over the legal limit. You climb in the driver’s seat, set down your bag, close the door and blow.
The device displays “Test Failed” and you are locked out.
“It’s 8:22 am and I’ve had zero drinks this morning…”. Now you’re late for work and still can’t get your car started. Then, you realize that you just used mouthwash, mouthwash contains alcohol.
Avoid a huge wrench in your day by remembering to not consume any food beverages other than water or tobacco within 15 minutes before taking a breath test.
5. Your Body is a Brewery
Your body can also turn into a brewery courtesy of a microorganism naturally present on and inside your body called Candida albicans.
This yeast lives on your skin and in your intestines. Like the beneficial “good” bacteria in your gut, C. albicans helps digest your food and, in turn, produces certain byproducts.
While the substances that the “good” bacteria produce are crucial to your immune, digestive, and tissue health, one of the byproducts of C. albicans is pure ethanol. Ethanol registers as normal alcoholic beverages on an IID.
This process occurs naturally in your gut and is a similar fermentation process that brewers, winemakers, and distillers have leveraged for centuries. Feed yeast sugar and it produces alcohol.
You might be thinking, can I just get myself drunk for free? But, since ethanol and alcohol, are neurotoxins (meaning they can affect the functioning and health of your nervous system), large quantities continuously present in your body can also present health risks.
For instance, the “good” bacteria in your gut help keep more sinister bacteria and even C. albicans in check. However, after a rigorous course of antibiotics or something else that disturbs your gut flora balance, C. albicans can change its form and become more aggressive.
Known as Auto-brewery Syndrome, this overgrowth can lead to more ethanol being produced in your body– even if you haven’t had a drop to drink.
That means that although you may not have had anything to drink that day or ever, an overgrowth of this yeast could potentially land you a DUI.
While the risk is low, this idea is not completely far-fetched.
Consider a woman that claimed the C. albicans defense in her DUI case and got her charges dismissed. Your attorney won’t suggest trying to use this to get out of a DUI, but it’s an interesting fact nonetheless.
6. North Dakota Has the Highest DUI Rates
As we all know, alcohol has a dark side we have to confront. Drunk driving statistics can offer just that. Fatalities from drunk driving aren’t just things you see in cliche PSAs in high school.
The CDC has a comprehensive drunk driving statistics page of annual self-reported alcohol-impaired drivers in U.S. adults from years 1993-2014.
While 2014 is down from past years, there are still 111 million recorded episodes drunk driving episodes per year. Remember, these are only the voluntarily reported numbers. It’s impossible to know exactly how many episodes occur under the radar.
But, which state has the most DUI convictions in one year?
Ranking the most dangerous state for drunk driving in 2015, North Dakota joins its northern neighbors Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Idaho as some of the most common states where drunk driving incidents occur.
7. A DUI Can Cost as Much as a Car
Maybe not a new car. Yet, consider this staggering fact: the average national cost of a DUI is around $10,000.
At Draeger, we know that a DUI can suck the finances out of even the most comfortable of lives.
To help prevent this, we provide affordable, transparent pricing while still providing you with the high level of quality that you expect and deserve.
Although ignition interlock devices can help ease the pain of a DUI, it’s easier to cut off the problem at the source. This is exactly what Alcohol Awareness Month is all about.
8. You Can Get a DUI on a Horse
It’s true: you can get a DUI while riding a horse. Just as with the legal alcohol limit, it varies by state where your 4-legged transportation could get you in trouble. Getting a DUI on a lawnmower, somehow, is also a legal possibility.
Also, just because your vehicle is on the water does not mean you can drink as much as you like. Operating a boat or any sort of vehicle on water while intoxicated, called a BUI , can also lead you to facing some serious fines and possibly jail time.
9. A DUI is Avoidable
How Can I Avoid Getting a DUI?
Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to a DUI if you are driving under the influence. Planning well, acting responsibly and knowing the law beforehand is really the best formula.
At the end of the day, the only way to avoid a DUI if you are driving is to avoid alcohol.
Here are a few ways to practice drinking responsibly and avoid DUIs:
Make Sure you Have a Designated Driver
This is rule one when enjoying alcohol, but it definitely bears repeating. While most people don’t enthusiastically volunteer to be the Designated Driver, or DD, some establishments give free stuff to every group’s DD.
Water, sodas, and sometimes even food — it pays to be a DD. You also spare yourself the next day hangover, protect your friends, and keep everyone from having a car breathalyzer or interlock device installed in their cars.
Another benefit of being the DD is you get to see exactly what it’s like when people have had that one too many beers. It can be an eye opening experience which will give you a far better understanding of the effects of alcohol on both yourself and others around you.
Skip the Breathalyzer App
One last tip for Alcohol Awareness Month 2018: a breathalyzer app might seem like a cool idea, but it isn’t all it is cracked up to be.
The results often lack in accuracy . This can end up getting you a DUI, costing you lots of money, and requiring help from Draeger with an interlock device.
Skip the breathalyzer app and practice safe drinking instead this April, Alcohol Awareness Month.
From all of us at Draeger, we wish you a very happy, healthy and safe Alcohol Awareness Month!