We recently came across an interesting story about a man on a motorcycle getting charged with third degree DWI which led us to uncover some interesting motorcycle DWI stats and information.
Motorcycle DWI Numbers Not Dropping
Stringent DWI laws in Minnesota have caused car accidents to drop but the number of motorcycle accidents is almost unchanged. There were 368 fatalities on Minnesota roads in 2011, down from 411 fatalities in 2010. There were 42 motorcycle rider deaths out of those 368 road fatalities in 2011, just 3 fatalities down from 45 motorcycle deaths in 2010. Motorcyclists ages 40 to 64 accounted for 64% of the deaths and almost half of the number of fatalities were alcohol-related.
The Department of Public Safety reports that motorcycle ridership is currently at its all-time high and underscores the need for training and the use of appropriate protective gear.
Detecting DWI Motorcycle Riders
Obviously, enforcing DWI laws is a key to minimizing the number of motorcycle fatalities related to alcohol. However, it’s not clear for many law enforcement officers which behavioral clues should be used to recognize motorcyclists that are driving while impaired. Some officers with many years of experience even admit that they are not able to positively distinguish intoxicated motorcycle riders from the unimpaired ones.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed a set of 14 behavioral cues that law enforcers can use to best discriminate between unimpaired and intoxicated motorcycle drivers. These cues were labeled as Excellent Predictors or Good Predictors. Based on a study, the Excellent Predictors were able to predict impaired motorcycling at least 50% of the time, and the Good Predictors were able to predict impaired motorcycling activities 30% to 49% of the time.
Excellent Cues with 50% Probability of Motorcycle DWI
- Trouble with dismount
- Drifting during any turn or in a curve
- Trouble with balance at a stop
- Inattentive to surroundings
- Turning problems (sudden corrections, unsteady, improper lean angle, late braking)
- Unusual or inappropriate behavior (disorderly conduct, urinating at roadside, dropping object)
Good Cues with 30% to 49% Probability of Motorcycle DWI
- Erratic movements when going straight
- Travelling the wrong way in a lane
- Following too closely
- Operating with no lights at night
- Running stop light or a stop sign
Third Degree DWI Charge and Penalties
A third degree DWI charge is a gross misdemeanor charge in Minnesota. Any individual can be charged with a third degree DWI and may be convicted when the individual has had one prior DWI violation or a license revocation related to alcohol within ten years of the present violation. Even if the individual has no prior DWI violations, a third degree DWI can still be charged if any of the aggravating factors defined by Minnesota DWI law exists at the time of the violation.
For instance, regardless of prior DWI convictions, any individual can be charged with third degree DWI if there was a refusal to submit to the evidentiary chemical test of the individual’s breath, urine or blood or his or her blood alcohol concentration was a .20 or more. A conviction of third degree DWI carries a maximum jail term of one year and a fine of up to $3,000.