Drunk Driving Lawyer
Drunk driving charges, also known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), are criminal offenses that occur when a person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These charges are taken seriously by law enforcement and the judicial system due to the significant risks they pose to public safety. The following is a brief overview of drunk driving charges.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits
Most states have established legal limits for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as a basis for determining drunk driving. BAC is the percentage of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream. In the United States, the legal limit for drivers is typically set at 0.08% BAC, although it may be lower for certain groups such as commercial drivers or underage drivers. If a driver’s BAC exceeds the legal limit, they can be charged with DUI/DWI.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
Law enforcement officers use field sobriety tests (FSTs) to assess a driver’s impairment during a traffic stop. These tests usually include walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, and following an object with their eyes. While FSTs can provide probable cause for an arrest, they are not always reliable indicators of intoxication and may be challenged in court.
Breathalyzer tests are commonly used to measure a driver’s BAC during a traffic stop. These portable devices estimate BAC levels based on the alcohol content in a person’s breath. However, breathalyzer results can be affected by various factors, including calibration issues and certain medical conditions. In the majority of states, refusing to take a breathalyzer test can lead to an automatic license suspension and other penalties.
Consequences of Drunk Driving Charges
The penalties for drunk driving charges vary depending on the state the arrest takes place in and the driver’s history of previous offenses. Typical consequences may include:
- License suspension or revocation: A driver’s license can be suspended or revoked for a specified period, ranging from a few months to several years, depending on the severity of the offense and prior convictions.
- Fines: Convicted drivers may be required to pay substantial fines, which can vary depending on the jurisdiction and number of offenses.
- Probation: Some offenders may be placed on probation, requiring them to meet specific conditions such as attending alcohol education programs and submitting to regular drug and alcohol testing.
- Jail or prison time: Serious DUI/DWI offenses or repeat offenses may result in incarceration, with sentences ranging from a few days to several years.
- Ignition interlock devices (IIDs): In some cases, convicted drivers are required to install IIDs in their vehicles. IIDs require drivers to blow into a breathalyzer before starting the vehicle, preventing the engine from starting if alcohol is detected.
- DUI/DWI school: Some jurisdictions require offenders to attend educational programs focused on the risks and consequences of drunk driving.
Certain circumstances can escalate the seriousness of drunk driving charges, leading to enhanced penalties. Aggravating factors may include:
- High BAC level: A significantly elevated BAC level above the legal limit can result in harsher penalties.
- Prior convictions: Repeat offenders face more severe consequences than first-time offenders.
- Causing injury or death: If a drunk driver causes an accident resulting in injuries or fatalities, they may face charges of vehicular assault or manslaughter.
- Driving with a suspended license: Driving while under suspension for a previous DUI/DWI offense can lead to additional charges and penalties.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving, make sure you have an experienced and aggressive drunk driving lawyer advocating for you and protecting your rights.
Thank you to our friends at Rispoli & Borneo P.C. for their insight into drunk driving charges.