What is a DUI Charge? Great Question! How About We Give 4 Potent Answers? Let’s Learn!
Updated 3/16/20 – Published by: Igor Shapiro
A DUI charge, sometimes known as “drunk driving,” refers to the act of driving or operating a motor vehicle when impaired by alcohol or another drug to an extent greater than the legal limit prescribed by statute, which purportedly is the amount at which a person cannot drive safely. Various states have varying definitions for the terms; nonetheless, they all refer to the same infringement, regardless of which state you were pulled over in when you were pulled over in. When someone is charged with driving under the influence (DUI), it indicates they have committed a major criminal, putting themselves and others in danger, regardless of the circumstances. It is possible to charge someone with a felony or misdemeanor for the same offense, depending on the exact facts of each situation. In addition to the fact that a DUI charge will result in a jail or prison sentence, a DUI charge of any kind will have a significant impact on your insurance rates, diver points, and the status of your driver’s license.
A DUI charge, or driving under the influence, is a charge that emerges when a law enforcement official believes you were too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle. The impairment may be possible that the impairment is caused by alcohol, drugs, tiredness, or other circumstances. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent may be considered prohibited in several states. Keep in mind that in many places, even if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat and your car isn’t moving, you can be arrested and charged with drunk driving. In many circumstances, if you’re operating a watercraft, moped, motorized scooter, bicycle, or lawnmower, you could get a DUI charge, SWI, or another comparable misdemeanor.
Is DUI a Criminal Charge?
DUI laws vary from state to state, but in most cases, a person arrested for DUI for the first time is charged with a misdemeanor. With a few exceptions, driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a criminal violation in most states. In other words, a DUI charge will generally appear on your criminal record as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanors are punishable by less than a year in jail, and felonies are punishable by a year or more. There will likely be little to no actual jail time if this is the first offense; instead, if any jail time is required under the state’s laws, it will be served on work detail, such as picking up rubbish by the side of the road. However, certain circumstances present at the time of the infraction can elevate it to the level of a felony, including:
- If someone is wounded or killed due to an accident caused by an intoxicated motorist, the driver may be prosecuted with felony vehicular manslaughter. Assume, for example, that an accident results in injuries that are not the responsibility of the intoxicated driver. In one situation, an intoxicated motorist is rear-ended by another driver, resulting in injuries to both parties. Instead of being charged with a felony, the intoxicated driver may be charged with a misdemeanor.
- Increased levels of alcohol in the blood. A DUI charge in some places can result in felony charges if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit of .08 percent, which is now in effect in all 50 states. In most circumstances, if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is greater than 0.16 percent, felony charges are filed.
- Other laws are being broken. If a person is apprehended for driving under the influence when their license is revoked, suspended, or restricted, they may be charged with a felony DUI offense.
- DUI Involving Passengers Under the Age of 18. Many states have elevated DUI legislation to the level of a felony if children are present in a car, with penalties being particularly severe if the children are under the age of 15.
- Prior DUI convictions vary depending on the state and the length of time since any prior convictions and a DUI can be raised to a felony due to a prior DUI charge. Prior DUI convictions are not automatically dismissed.
For first-time offenders with a weak case, such as a blood-alcohol content level on the borderline, you may be offered a plea bargain for a less serious offense, such as a non-criminal infraction or a less severe misdemeanor, a careless driving charge. In exchange for agreeing to the plea deal, you will be sentenced to a lower offense. And here’s another kicker, if you score a sweetheart deal now, but you screw up and get another DUI charge down the line, there will often be enhanced penalties for that subsequent drunk driving episode. Having a DUI charge or any other crime on your record can cause all sorts of problems. But in some states, a DUI charge can be expunged from your record after a certain period has passed.
How to Beat a DUI Charge
If you receive a DUI charge, you can fight the allegations by hiring an attorney and stating that you were simply driving erratically or in an unsafe manner rather than driving under the influence. However, while it may appear possible to defend yourself in traffic court against minor offenses, doing so in the context of a criminal trial when you have been charged with one of the most hated misdemeanor counts would be a complete waste of time.
There are a variety of approaches that can be used to defeat a DUI charge. When defending against a DUI accusation, legal motions, objections, and arguments are pretty compelling. Your case should be thoroughly investigated from the outset for any legal flaws that have nothing to do with whether or not you exceeded the legal limit in the first place. In court, a DUI case is processed following strict rules, and if the rules are not followed, a judge may dismiss your case. The number of possible defenses to a DUI charge is virtually limitless, but here are some of the most frequently encountered:
- Your blood alcohol level is being debated. A blood alcohol test is frequently done during a traffic stop. Assume you had five shots of alcohol before getting in your car to drive. While you may be stopped in a couple of minutes, the hour or so you spend in the squad car allows the alcohol to infiltrate your system. Your BAC level will be much greater than if you were driving at the time of the test. On the other hand, the prosecution could claim that the delay allowed your body to digest alcohol that you had consumed earlier, resulting in a higher actual blood alcohol concentration when you were driving. As you can see, there are a lot of holes in this one.
- Despite the fact that driving is not for everyone, it is essential for those who have access to a vehicle and do not prefer to travel. For example, if you are arrested for driving under the influence and someone really close to you is undergoing a life-threatening medical emergency, you may be able to avoid a DUI conviction if you can demonstrate that the arrest was absolutely necessary.
- Even though driving is not for everyone, it is essential for those who have a vehicle and do not prefer to travel. For example, suppose you are arrested for driving under the influence, and someone close to you is undergoing a life-threatening medical emergency. In that case, you may be able to avoid a DUI charge if you can demonstrate that the arrest was essential.
- DUI checkpoints are illegal, and everyone is aware of this. DUI checkpoints are often unconstitutional. In essence, governments empower cops to violate the fundamental right to be free from arbitrary searches and seizures by halting every third vehicle that passes a DUI checkpoint. Because these checkpoints are so close to infringing on your fundamental freedoms, most states have enacted strict restrictions, and if those rules are not followed, you may be able to have your charges dropped.
- Did you realize that an officer cannot randomly stop you? They can halt a vehicle if they notice it swerving, driving erratically, or without lights on. If you are arrested, you must read your Miranda Rights (which you hear on police shows). When giving a breathalyzer or blood test, they must adhere to all norms and regulations. Every action police must take to pull you over or interrogate you about your alcohol consumption is governed by a set of rules. Your lawyer should evaluate each step of the route to ensure that no steps were skipped and maintain all of your rights.
Of course, there are even more safeguards in place. A clever lawyer can come up with almost any defense, though the most bizarre ones don’t always succeed. As a result, you and your attorney must provide a compelling justification, and you may be eligible for a refund during your hearing.
How To Fight a DUI Charge For Prescription Drugs
Almost everyone is aware that driving while under an illicit substance can result in a DUI arrest. Depending on the severity of the infraction, it might result in months behind bars and thousands of dollars in fines. On the other hand, many people are unaware that driving after legitimately taking over-the-counter medication may put them in a similar legal dilemma as drinking and driving. Furthermore, many people wrongly feel that because their doctor prescribed the medications they are taking, it is perfectly legal for them to drive after taking the pills, even if they become a little loopy as a result of doing so.
The law is unconcerned about the source, and whether legal or illicit, the substance – drink, street drug, or prescription – influences you and hinders your ability to drive. The only thing the law worries about is that you choose to drive while under the influence of any substance that affects your ability. How can you fight the charge of prescription drug DUI for those who took off guard? Perhaps the most compelling argument is that there is no predetermined limit to how much prescription medication is required to be a DUI. If your blood alcohol level is.08 or more, for example, you are likely to be charged with a DUI in the majority of jurisdictions. There is no magic number if you are addicted to prescription drugs like Oxycontin or Ritalin. Marijuana, by the way, works in the same manner.
The prosecutor will continue to argue that you took so much of whatever substance it is, to the point that you are unable to safely drive. That’s all the law requires a violation of the statute of limitations. Of course, establishing your incapacity isn’t always easy. You will have an easier time of it if you were driving in an unusual manner, such as across many lanes of traffic or at an abnormally high or abnormally low rate of speed.
An officer’s report and any results from any field sobriety tests you took would likely be used by the prosecutor as evidence to support her case. Only the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, in which you follow a pen with your eyes, has been found to be a risk factor for cognitive impairment. Other tests, such as walking in a straight line, do not show that a chemical has affected you. A bad knee, an uncoordinated person, or a nervous person could all be to blame for poor performance on the test.
DUI Charge After The Fact
You got away with it. You went home and drove drunk and made it home. Except, the police come knocking on your door an hour later. Can you be charged with driving under the influence after the fact, meaning after you have sobered up and are no longer piloting a vehicle?
Yes, indeed. If the prosecutor has enough evidence to persuade a jury or judge, you can be found guilty of any crime. After the fact, how do they establish a DUI case? They may have witnesses who can testify that you were intoxicated when you drove. You may argue that you had a greater blood-alcohol level when you were driving than when you were tested after the arrest if they showed up at your door within a few minutes of arriving home.
However, it will be more difficult to prove. In any case, your chances of fighting a charge are greatly improved when you have an experienced attorney on your side. This is true whether you’re facing charges for DUI, prescription medication DUI, or a DUI after the fact. To save money, you may choose to hire an attorney rather than fight the case on your own, take a quick plea, or use a public defender. For the sake of your future, get the best legal representation you can afford, as a conviction can last for a decade or more.
As part of the Law Office of Igor A. Shapiro, we fight back and battle to obtain you the best bargain possible or even beat the ticket in its entirety. We will make it simple to fight back and have your ticket reduced or canceled. Just a few clicks on our website or a quick phone call. Contact us today 425-264-2000