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The Florida Bar

The Tie Between Alcoholism & DUI

The relationship between convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol (or DUI, sometimes called driving while intoxicated or DWI) is popularly believed to be clear-cut, says Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney William Moore. For most people, who have never been arrested for drunk driving, they falsely deduce that those who are must regularly drink to excess and be full-blown alcoholics. The hypothesis does not actually pan out, says Broward County DUI Lawyer William Moore.

The reason people believe this myth is frequently rooted in their own personal contacts and experiences. A homemaker may know that she does not drink heavily and has never been arrested for DUI, but her great-uncle famously drank heavily, often embarrassing himself, and was arrested several times for DUI. Further, if she believes that the other people in her social group who lead lifestyles similar to her own have also never been arrested for DUI, it seems to prove her notion. One issue with logic is that she may know people who have been arrested for or convicted of a single DUI, but did not publicize the incident.

Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer William Moore believes that the reliance on personal knowledge (or sometimes lack thereof) of the drinking habits of others fuels the misconception. Studies bear out the idea that a lot of people get arrested for driving under the influence but are not alcoholics. They are frequently young people who have had too much to drink at a party or nightclub and are seriously shaken by their arrest — enough that they are never again arrested.

However, the profile for a fourth-time DUI offender, a crime that is charged as a felony in the state of Florida, paints an interesting picture, according to a recent Kansas study. Those who are arrested for driving under the influence multiple times share many common characteristics: 90 percent are men, 87 percent have an income less than $30,000 per year, 79 percent are white, 67 percent are unmarried or separated from their spouses (many are divorced), and 15 percent have a mental illness that is not being properly treated. The average age of a DUI offender who has been arrested more than once is mid-forties, which may be another surprise to those who envision young people as the only ones who drive after too much to drink. Although the rate for reoffending after a first DUI is lower, the same study showed that of those who were convicted for a second DUI, 80 percent would go on to a third incident. This information leads to the conclusion that aggressive, long-term treatment is perhaps more appropriate than harsh punishment for repeat offenders.

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