Frequently Asked Questions about Drunk Driving

Q: What is "blood-alcohol concentration" or "blood-alcohol level"?

A: Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is the level of alcohol in the bloodstream from drinking alcoholic beverages. BAC readings are used in court as evidence in drunk-driving cases. The most common method of measure is a breath test, although blood and/or urine testing is sometimes done. A result of .08 or higher may establish a presumption of intoxication. The details of the .08 BAC presumption laws vary among the states, but all 50 states have adopted .08 as their official intoxication level, in large part because of a federal threat of otherwise withholding highway funds.

Q: Can I refuse a Breathalyzer® test?

A: Every state has its own version of an implied consent law providing that a driver impliedly consents to alcohol testing just by the act of driving. In many states, a refusal to take a breath test is itself a criminal violation subject to stiff penalties. For example, refusing a breath test might result in automatic drivers-license suspension or revocation. If you are ultimately found guilty of a drunk-driving offense, there may be additional penalties because of the test refusal, such as a stiffer sentence. Your test refusal may also be used as evidence against you in a drunk-driving case.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sex Offenses

Q: How are sex offenses punished?

A: Punishment for a sex offense can vary dramatically depending on the category of crime. A misdemeanor sex crime conviction (such as indecent exposure) may receive less than a year of jail time, a fine, community service, counseling or probation. A felony, on the other hand, may be punished by a lengthy prison term (up to a life sentence). Additionally, released sex felons must register as sex offenders and multiple convictions often lead to greater punishments.

Q: Is consent a defense?

A: Consent may be a defense to sex crimes, in some cases. However, some individuals are not considered able to consent to sex under the law. For those individuals, even if they explicitly agree, their agreement is not legally valid. For example, minors, the mentally disabled and unconscious or intoxicated people (even if they willingly became intoxicated) typically cannot provide valid consent. Statutory rape or date rape charges may result.

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