What is DUI / DWI?
Individuals operating vehicles with any type of drive train while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can be charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). Many DUI charges involve an intoxicated person driving a car, but there are other types of DUI/DWI charges as well, including people driving boats and even non-motorized bicycles.
Laws on DUI/DWI charges are different from state to state. People who have been charged with a DUI or DWI need to work closely with an attorney who understands the laws regarding this issue in their state.
There are two types of DUI: blood alcohol content (BAC) DUI and impairment DUI.
Blood Alcohol Content DUI
In all states, the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%. People who have a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08% are considered intoxicated and unfit to operate a vehicle with a drive train in the eyes of the law. Even if a person does not seem impaired, they may still be charged with a DUI if their BAC is over the legal limit. BAC level may be determined by a breathalyzer test at the site where the driver is pulled over by law enforcement, or at a hospital following a traffic stop.
If your BAC is not over 0.08%, you may still be charged with a DUI if you show significant signs of impairment. A law enforcement officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line or following the light of a flashlight with your eyes. If the officer determines that you are impaired due to the use of drugs or alcohol, you may be charged.
Impairment DUIs don’t only involve alcohol and illegal drugs. Prescription drugs taken as prescribed can also result in an impairment DUI if they cause impairment. Laws are different from state to state when it comes to charging a driver with DUI. Some states require that the driver shows a lessened ability to operate their vehicle, while other states only require that the driver shows signs of impairment.
DUI and the Law
The consequences for being convicted of driving under the influence are rightfully steep.
While the exact sentencing requirements differ from state to state, penalties for DUI may include:
Jail time: Many DUI offenses require jail time. People charged with a DUI may be required to pay a bond in order to get out of jail while they await their day in court.
Breathalyzer lockbox/ignition interlock device: Sometimes, a judge requires people convicted of a DUI to have a breathalyzer device installed in their vehicle. This requires the person to take a breathalyzer test before they can start their vehicle, and will render the vehicle incapable of starting if the person’s blood-alcohol level exceeds a predetermined limit.
Fines: Many DUI convictions result in high fines. Multiple DUIs may cause an increase in fine amounts.
License suspension: Many people who are convicted of a DUI receive a license suspension as a part of their sentence. In order to get a license back after a suspension related to a DUI, many states require alcohol education, fine payment, and more.
Felony charges: A DUI can result in a misdemeanor or felony charge. There are many factors at play when determining the level of a DUI charge, including BAC at the time of arrest and whether anyone was hurt as a result of the DUI.
Dealing With a DUI or DWI Charge?
If you’ve been arrested for DUI or DWI, it’s important that you work with a lawyer who is familiar with fighting these types of cases. Getting a lawyer as soon as possible can help you fight your charges, potentially reducing your fines and/or jail time.