Find DUI Lawyer

Find DUI Lawyer

DUI / DWI Law

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, also known as DUI, is a crime in all 50 states. Besides being illegal, driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated (DWI) puts yourself and others around you in harm’s way. Without an experienced attorney, a DUI charge can impact future charges, cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, or even result in your license being suspended or revoked entirely, so it’s imperative that you find the right lawyer for your needs. If you’ve been charged with a DUI or other crime associated with driving or operating machinery under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s important that you work closely with a legal team that that has experience working similar cases. Working with an experienced lawyer can be the difference between a forgiving sentence and hefty fines—or worse. Here, we’ll explore the definition of driving under the influence, the difference between a DUI associated with blood alcohol content and a DUI associated with impairment, and some of the common acronyms used to describe charges related to operating machinery under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the United States.

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.

Impairment DUI

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.

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DUI Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does a DUI stay on your record?

How long a DUI stays on your record depends heavily on where you received the DUI. Some states will have the DUI stay on your record for only five years. Maryland has the shortest penalty of only three years.

Other states require that a DUI remain for a decade or longer. For example, Florida has DUIs stay for 75 years, and Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all keep DUI convictions on your record for life. However, some states allow for a DUI charge to be expunged from your record even if there is no period after which it is removed

2. What vehicles can you get a DUI in?

In general, two significant classes of vehicles are considered when DUI charges are filed: personal vehicles and commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). A personal vehicle is any vehicle that is owned or leased by an individual for personal use. A personal vehicle can be a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, or even a riding lawn mower for the purposes of DUI law. 

A commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate. Individuals with a CDL are held to a higher standard for acceptable blood alcohol content (BAC) and can lose their CDL if they are convicted of a DUI or refuse to take a BAC test. It does not matter if the CDL holder was charged with a DUI in their personal vehicle or their work vehicle; they may still lose their CDL license for a year or more.

3. How much does a DUI cost?

The cost of receiving a DUI varies depending on how many DUIs you have received in the past and in what state you received the DUI. Monetarily, the penalty can range from as low as $150 in Arizona to as high as $6,250 in Oregon. Usually, the financial penalty is lower for first offenders but rapidly increases for each subsequent conviction.

In addition to financial costs, a DUI conviction can cost you time, dignity, and freedom. DUI convictions may come with required classes that you must make time for. It may also involve installing an Ignition Interlock Device, which requires you to take a breath test to start your personal vehicle and must be installed by you at your own expense. A DUI charge can even involve jail time for up to 10 years or longer, depending on the state and the severity of the charges.

4. What is the difference between a DUI and DWI?

Depending on the state, there may be a difference between a DUI charge and a DWI charge. DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and can refer to a broad range of circumstances. Usually, any situation in which you are considered impaired by drugs or alcohol can lead to a DUI charge. Of note is the fact that a DUI charge can be brought against people who are impaired by legally prescribed medication in addition to illegal drugs or alcohol. As such, DUI can be used as an umbrella term to catch any individual who is in any way impaired when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

By contrast, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Intoxication is a specific legal threshold for an individual’s BAC beyond which they are considered to be intoxicated. For most states, the legal threshold is a BAC of 0.08 or 8%. The lone exception is Utah, which lowered the bar to only 5% alcohol by volume. Some states also have a “zero tolerance” threshold for minors. This harsher intoxication limit sets the bar far lower and can classify a minor as intoxicated if their BAC is higher than 0.00 or 0.02, depending on the state

5. Is a DUI a felony?

The answer is it depends. In most states, the governing factors of how a DUI charge is classified are frequency, BAC, and collateral damage. A first-time DUI charge will most likely be considered a misdemeanor. However, each subsequent DUI charge is more likely to be considered a felony to increase the penalties. BAC also plays a role in determining the severity of charges brought. For example, if you are barely over the legal limit, you will more likely be given a misdemeanor charge. In contrast, if you are several times over the legal limit, you are more likely to be given a felony charge.

Finally, collateral damage also affects what kind of charges are brought. In general, if you were pulled over for driving erratically but did not harm anyone or anything, you are more likely to be given a misdemeanor. However, if your intoxicated driving resulted in injury or damage to anyone or anything else, some states require that you be immediately upgraded to a felony regardless of if it was your first time or the level of your BAC

6. What Should I Do if I am charged with a DUI?

If you have been charged with a DUI, you will need to find a DUI attorney. An experienced DUI attorney can help to protect your rights and get you the best possible outcome for your case. The best palace to find a DUI attorney is Attorney at Law.

At AAL our nationwide network of attorneys and law firms allows us to match you with the best DUI attorney in your area. Our attorneys have the experience, legal expertise, and expert testimony to help you explore your options and get you the outcome you deserve. In addition to legal expertise, our attorneys also excel in client care. Our firms ensure that their clients are cared for and questions are answered.

Don’t wait. Contact AAL today for a complimentary consultation and begin your journey to justice

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