DUI Frequently Asked Questions

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Since "driving under the influence" (DUI) is the most frequently committed crime in the United States, it stands to reason that many people have a lot of questions about this topic.

As a result of the prevalence of DUI incidents as well as the harsh consequences that are associated with driving under the influence circumstances, we are providing some of the most frequently asked questions about driving under the influence.

What is "DUI"?

Drunk driving or "driving under the influence" (DUI) is sometimes called driving while intoxicated (DWI) and has two meanings:

First, DUI means driving with a blood alcohol level over the state's maximum permissible blood alcohol limit. As of May, 2007, the limit for adults is 0.08% in all 50 states in the United States.

Second, an adult may also be guilty of DUI or DWI for driving when his or her physical and/or mental abilities are adversely affected by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

In fact, according to the law, it makes absolutely no difference whether the drug is legal or illegal, prescription or over-the-counter.

If drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs negatively impacts an individual's reaction time, ability to judge distances, hearing, or his or her sight, or any other physical or mental ability used in driving, the person may be found guilty of a "driving under the influence" driving offense.

Why do I need a DUI attorney?

It is the "job" of a DUI attorney to show the judge all the impressive things you have done in your adult life such as the fact that you are a community volunteer, that you are a good father or mother, your commendable work record, that you are an active member of your church, and the fact that you regularly pay taxes (that is, if this information is "factual"). Indeed, armed with this information, the judge is more likely to view your case favorably.

DUI has become a very sophisticated and complicated area of jurisprudence. In point of fact, many criminal defense attorneys will admit that given the many talents and skills that need to be mastered by a DUI defense attorney, this area of specialization can be one of the most difficult areas of criminal law in which the lawyer can engage.

Every state now has stringent DUI penalties in place to help prevent people from drinking and driving. Examples of such penalties include the following:

  • A suspended driver's license.

  • The installation of an ignition interlock device.

  • Vehicle impoundment.

  • Mandatory alcohol education classes (at your expense).

  • Probation.

  • Community service.

  • Substantial fines and court fees (sometimes in excess of $5,000 or more).

  • Jail time.

Even for a first DUI conviction, you could lose your driver's license, face possible restrictions on your interstate and international travel, experience insurance coverage problems, and lose your job. The good news, on the other hand, is that it is likely that you can avoid most or perhaps all of these penalties by hiring a DUI attorney.

A DUI attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine if there are constitutional violations or other defenses that potentially weaken the prosecution's case. Armed with this information, the DUI attorney can negotiate with the prosecution for a reduced charge and in some circumstances, even a complete dismissal of your charges. In sum, without the representation of a "drunk driving" attorney, you considerably reduce your chances of getting the best possible legal results.

What is the best way to beat a drunk-driving charge?

The best way to avoid a DUI arrest is to refrain from drinking when you drive. Call a family member or a friend for a ride, call a taxi, or use a designated driver or don't drink alcohol if you are going to need to drive in the next few hours.

Can the judge impose more than the mandatory minimum jail time for a person who received a DUI?

When a person receives a DUI conviction, the judge can impose up to the maximum jail time allowable for a DUI offense. Conversely, with respect to a DUI case, the judge cannot impose less than the mandatory minimum jail time.

Regarding a DUI arrest, how much time do I have to contact an attorney?

If you were not able to contact an attorney while you were jail, you should get in touch a DUI lawyer as soon as possible after you get out of jail. Since there are some legal procedures that take place very soon after your release from jail, time can truly be of the essence.

If my blood alcohol concentration is less than .08%, can I still lose my driver's license?

It's certainly possible for a person to lose his or her driver's license with a blood alcohol concentration under .08%. A person, however, usually loses his or her license as a consequence of a previous DUI conviction or for a related offense. Generally speaking, in order for an individual's driver's license to be automatically suspended, his or her blood alcohol content must be .08 or greater while driving.

I'm simply going To plead guilty to my DUI. Why do I need a DUI attorney?

Concerning a DUI arrest, maybe the biggest mistake a person can make is to automatically plead guilty in court. Without a DUI lawyer to represent an individual, he or she is basically giving up all of his or her rights for legal representation in court and is, in essence, accepting whatever happens.

This can become a big mistake that can negatively affect an individual's future employment opportunities and his or her ability to get insurance for his or her vehicle, to travel as freely as he or she desires, to own a vehicle, to get a professional license in his or her chosen line of work, to get "good" credit ratings, and many other important issues in life of which he or she may not be immediately aware.

In most states, a DUI conviction will remain on a person's driving record for a minimum of five years. During this time, the person may be quite "handicapped" when experiencing any or all of the "scenarios" given above. In a word, a DUI defense attorney is quite important in providing the legal representation an individual needs in a DUI case.

What happens to my driver's license if I am an out of state driver and I receive a DUI?

Regarding receiving a DUI conviction and getting your driver's license suspended, keep in mind that at least 45 states and the District of Columbia participate in the "Driver's License Compact Act." What this means is that a "driving under the influence" conviction in another state will be reported to your home state that, in turn, will usually take action to suspend your driver's license based on the conviction that was ruled by the out-of-state court. As a consequence, even if you have an out-of-state driver's license, it seems logical from a legal standpoint for you to contact a local DUI attorney in your state to represent you if you are arrested for DUI.

I consumed only 4 or 5 beers and was not "drunk." Can I still be convicted of DUI?

A person can be convicted of DUI if his or her driving was adversely affected in any noticeable manner by the consumption of alcohol. Drinking 4 to 5 beers within a one or two hour time frame can, quite frankly, result in a blood alcohol concentration from .06% to .09%, "depending" on the individual's body weight, how much alcohol was in the beer (some beer contains more alcohol content than others), how quickly the person drank the beer, the person's metabolism rate, and if the individual was drinking on a "full" or on an "empty" stomach. In conclusion, drinking 4 or 5 beers may be sufficient to violate either the "under the influence" standard or the "per se standard" (.08% in all 50 U.S. states).

Can I appeal my DUI to a circuit court?

Every person in the U.S. who receives a DUI conviction in a district or a municipal court has the legal right to appeal this lower court's conviction to the county circuit court. Be alerted to the fact, however, that in many states there is a closely adhered to 14-day time frame in which the appeal must be filed. If the appeal is not correctly filed within the 14-day time frame, the appeal will be considered "waived," a circumstance that isn't open to re-filing at a later date.

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