The Consequences of a DUI Charge
The Consequences of a DUI Charge
Anyone caught driving while drunk can be charged with any of the following offenses: Driving under the influence (DUI); driving while intoxicated (DWI); or operating under the influence (OUI) – all these are drunken driving charges, (the difference lies only in the terminology used in the state where an offender is arrested and charged).
Drunk-driving is the cause of more than a third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., which is more than 30,000 every year. In 2010, the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics registered 13,365 fatal car accidents, while the number of those arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or both, was 1.4 million.
In all states, driving with a 0.08% (or higher) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is a crime, and though the severity of punishment imposed on offenders vary from one state to another, there is one certain uniformity in all jurisdictions – the punishments are severe.
A first offense DUI is usually treated as a misdemeanor; it could be raised to a felony charge, however, if the alcohol-impaired driver injures or kills someone, of if his/her BAC level is higher than the 0.08% (in some states, a third or fourth DUI offense can automatically lead to a felony charge).
Federal and state authorities are hell-bent on catching violators of the anti-drunk driving law, thus, they are sharp and focused on observing any signs of drunk-driving, like swerving, braking erratically, driving too slowly, stopping for no apparent reason and zig-zagging across the road. For this same end, they set up sobriety checkpoints to catch alcohol-impaired drivers or measure the level of alcohol impairment in drivers who seem drunk.
A DUI felony entails costly fines and at least one year jail time (maximum of one year imprisonment is allowed in a misdemeanor charge). In some states, a felony leads to other heavy sentences, such as:
Mandatory installation of an Ignition interlock – a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects in the driver a BAC level that is higher than what is considered a safe level (about 0.02%);
Administrative license suspension (ALS) – a law that authorizes law enforcers to confiscate a driver’s license if the driver fails a chemical test. This can last for 90 days – 180 days, during which driving privileges may be limited to/from work;
Open container – the Open container law, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), requires states to prohibit the possession of open alcohol beverage containers, as well as the consumption of an alcoholic beverage, in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public highway.
According to Kershaw County DUI lawyers, many of those are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), often claim that they have only had a few drinks or that they are not intoxicated, despite what a breathalyzer test says. These common excuses, however, do not often hold up in a court of law.
Alcohol-related charges have serious consequences, and a conviction for a DUI crime can dramatically affect a person for the rest of his/her life. Thus, anyone who has been charged with a DUI may find it wise to call a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to start preparing a valid legal defense that will save him/her from further legal problems.”