Las Vegas and DUI

Las Vegas, NV-Several recent alcohol-related deaths and DUI arrests in the Las Vegas Valley have brought attention to reforming Nevada DUI laws.

In Sin City, last call is never announced, meaning that some drinkers never get a late-night halt to their vice before they hit the road.

An organization called Stop DUI believes that because of Nevada’s easygoing attitude toward drinking, the state should have the strictest DUI laws in the United States. Instead Nevada has a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.10, lower than many states’ limit of 0.08.

Clark County District Attorney Stewart Bell hopes that these serious accidents will attract more attention to the DUI problem in Nevada, and result in positive reform.

One driver killed six teens on a roadside work crew after she passed
out at the wheel. The driver, 21-year-old Jessica Williams, survived and
is held on $5 million bail.

Juanita Kim McDonald, 25, crashed into a group of tourists on a
sidewalk in front of the Aladdin Hotel. She injured six of them, and one
died weeks later due to serious injuries.

Another intoxicated driver, Michael Pickett, 24, killed four innocent
bystanders, including a pregnant woman. They were parked at a stoplight
when Pickett slammed his truck into their vehicle. He had a BAC of 0.22, more than double that of the legal limit of 0.10.

Several survivors of other drunk-driving accidents are undergoing
long-term rehabilitation, their lives put on hold due to the carelessness of drunk drivers.

Despite the long list of accidents and fatalities of late, Bell believes that the numbers look positive. According to the Nevada Highway Patrol and county records, the 11,913 DUI arrests of 1999 were down from 12,196 in 1998. The number seems more significant when considering the state’s high population growth.

The Office of Traffic Safety at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (NV DMV) and Public Safety record traffic fatalities. They found that 35.4% of Clark County’s vehicle fatalities were from drunk driving in 1999. The county had 69 drunk driving deaths. In 1993 the amount of deaths were less, however the percentage accountable to drunk driving was roughly the same at 38.7%.

Sandy Heverly, head of Stop DUI, would like the Nevada’s legal BAC limit to be lowered from 0.10 to 0.08, a level that is common in several states. She would also like a DUI-caused death to be considered as second-degree murder, which requires 25 years to life in prison.

June 23, 2000

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