The Associated Press (AP) reports that Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) twice the legal limit last week when he collided with a tractor Trailer. The accident occurred on State Highway 114 near Park Boulevard in Grapevine, Texas, when Jay Ratliffs Ford F150 pickup hit tractor trailer truck then hit a barrier on the highway. Jay Ratliff was later arrested for DWI (driving while intoxicated).
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="233"] Jay Ratliff (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]
After the DWI arrest Jay Ratliff refused a breathalyzer test, but the police requested a warrant and obtained a sample of his blood for testing. Grapevine police on Monday said Ratliff's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.16%. It is illegal in every state, including Texas, to operate a motorized vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08%.
Jay Ratliff is a four-time Pro Bowler. He has been with the Cowboys team for eight years, although he was injured this season and did not play for ten games. Jay Ratliff had hernia surgery in December of this year. The Cowboys have not commented on the DWI arrest.
Fines and penalties for a high BAC after first DWI arrest
Many drivers question what will be the impact of a high blood alcohol concentration on their first DUI or DWI arrest. The penalties will vary by state and whether your state has passed laws which allow for the enhancement of penalties for a high BAC level.
For instance in Texas,House Bill 1199 modified the states intoxication laws in the Texas Penal Code. This law added a provision for individuals with a high blood, urine or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) allowing for enhanced penalties for anyone charged with a DWI with a BAC level of .15 or higher. Now individuals with a BAC .15% or greater can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
Prior to the changes in the Texas DWI laws if you were arrested for DWI and your BAC was 0.08% or higher you were charged with a Class B misdemeanor for first offenses which allowed for 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. Under the new law a driver who is charged with a DWI with a high BAC can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and can be given up to one year of jail and fines not to exceed $4,000. Prior to the change a driver was only charged with a Class A misdemeanor for second DWI charges, leading to higher penalties and fines.
Unfortunately, according to some legal experts, there is some ambiguity in the law and it may allow a judge or jury to determine how serious the DWI offense can be. DWI lawyers suggest that any driver who is arrested for DWI in Texas should seek legal help. There is also some question about whether or not it is a good idea to submit to a chemical test if you are arrested for drunk driving. Consider, however, refusal to submit to a chemical test after a DWI arrest will result in an automatic license suspension under Texas administrative license suspension process.
If you live in a state other than Texas and you are charged with DWI and your BAC was high you need to review your states laws and talk to a DWI lawyer.