Drunk driving is the most frequently committed crime in the United States. In 2004, approximately 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. It is estimated that alcohol and other drugs are a factor in 39% of all fatal automobile crashes and one-fifth of all crashes involving injury. Every 31 minutes, someone in America dies from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. It's the greatest single cause of death for every age between 3 and 33. It's for that reason the Dickinson Police Department is committed to strong, aggressive, and persistent DUI enforcement to deter drunk driving. Below is general information about DUI's, alcohol, and Minor in Consumption laws.

What is Driving Under the Influence?
Just a drink or two can make someone behind the wheel a threat to themselves and to others. Drinking alcohol affects a driver's coordination, reaction time, and vision (particularly at night). Long before any outward signs of impairment are recognized, the driver's judgment, emotions, and confidence are adversely effected.

When alcohol is ingested into your system, your body begins to metabolize the alcohol and distributes it within your blood stream. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your body. It is measured in grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. A measurement of 0.05 BAC means that your body contains 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

As soon as you start drinking, your BAC begins to rise and takes 30 to 60 minutes after you have stopped drinking to reach its highest concentration. However, it could take up to two hours before your BAC peaks especially if you have eaten a substantial meal at the same time.

If you are taking medication, you will need to be especially careful. Some medications and drugs, when combined with alcohol, can greatly impair your driving skills and increase your risk of a crash.

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in the State of North Dakota with a BAC of 0.08% or greater. It is also illegal to be in actual physical control (APC) of a motor vehicle with the same BAC.

How much alcohol does it take to impair driving?
This depends on several factors:
  • Your Weight. It takes less alcohol to become intoxicated if you weigh 120 pounds than if you weigh 180 pounds.

  • Whether you are drinking on a full or empty stomach.

  • How many drinks you have and their alcohol content

  • How long you have been drinking and the time between each drink

  • Medications or drugs may also increase impairment when taken with alcohol

  • A person weighing 150 pounds, drinking at the rate of 1.5 ounces of alcohol (about one shot, or one 12-ounce can/bottle of beer, or one glass of wine) per half hour would need:

    Two reach a BAC of 0.05%
    Three reach a BAC of 0.08%
    Four reach a BAC of 0.10%
    Six reach a BAC of 0.15%

    How do officers find DUI drivers?
    Officers receive specialized training in the detection of drunk drivers. They monitor driving behaviors of a suspected drunk driver. Impaired drivers often have problems maintaining proper lane position, exhibit speed and braking problems, drive in the wrong lane, and exhibit poor driving judgment.

    Officers most often come across impaired drivers by traffic stops and accidents. Once making the initial contact with the driver, the officer develops further evidence in order to prove impaired driving.

    Officers may have the driver walk a straight line, stand on one foot, follow a pen with their eyes, say the alphabet, and take an onsite screening breath test. The officer uses all of the tests to determine if the driver is impaired to the extent that mandates an arrest.

    According to the North Dakota Implied Consent Advisory, a driver has deemed to consent to an onsite screening or chemical test (either breath, blood, urine, or saliva) when requested by a law enforcement officer. Failure to take the test will result in the revocation of the person's driving privileges for up to four years.

    What happens once the driver is arrested?
    After the driver is arrested, he/she will be asked to take a breath or blood test. In Dickinson, most DUIs are processed with breath tests. They will be transported to the LEC for the breath test and later taken to the Southwest Multi County Correctional Facility to post a cash bond (see fines below).

    1st or 2nd offense within 5 years = B Misdemeanor (maximum $100 fine, 30 days jail)
    3rd offense within 5 years = A Misdemeanor (maximum $2,000 fine, 1 year in prison)
    4th offense within 7 years = A Misdemeanor (maximum $2,000 fine, 1 year in prison)
    5th offense and beyond = C Felony (maximum $5,000 fine, 5 years in prison)

    1st offense = 91 days (unless BAC greater than .17, then 180 days)
    2nd offense = 365 days (unless BAC greater than .17, then 2 years)
    3rd+ offense = 2 years (unless BAC greater than .17, then 3 years)
    Refusal = Up to 4 years

    Any person under the age of 21 is guilty of a crime if they consume or possess alcoholic beverages. If the person is between the ages of 18-21, he/she is referred to municipal court for a B Misdemeanor offense (a crime punishable by a maximum $500 fine and 30 days in jail). If the individual is a juvenile (17 YOA and under), he/she is referred to juvenile court. Juvenile sentencing is made on the basis of the juvenile court judge.

    To seek help for a drinking problem, call your health care provider or 1-800-662-HELP for information on alcohol abuse and referral to a treatment center.

    Learn more about alcohol abuse online at: