DUI – Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence (“DUI”) and driving while intoxicated (“DWI”)
refer to the act of driving a car with blood alcohol levels above the state
specified limit or while impaired by illegal drugs. Both terms are often
used synonymously to refer to the same criminal charge, but some states
categorize both terms to refer to different levels of criminal charges. For
example, New York law can charge a motorist with the lesser charge of a DUI
instead of a DWI, if the motorist consumed below the legal limit of alcohol,
but consumed enough that it impaired their driving ability. All 50 states
define either DUI or DWI as a per se criminal offense, which automatically
finds a motorist guilty if his blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) is above
the state limit.
If a police officer is suspicious that a driver is impaired by alcohol, he can require the motorist to exit his vehicle and perform a field sobriety test or request the driver to blow into a breathalyzer. Despite the common misconception, breathalyzers do not actually measure the BAC. This can only be done by testing a sample of a person’s blood. The reality is that breathalyzers are used to measure alcohol in a person’s breath, in order to approximate the concentration of a person’s blood alcohol level.
In almost all states, a person convicted of a DUI or DWI will have their license either suspended or revoked. In approximately 41 states, a motorist’s license can be automatically revoked, even before conviction, if he refuses to take a breathalyzer test at the scene of the traffic stop. These automatic revocations are often referred to as an “administrative license suspension.”
Approximately half of the states have “mandatory interlock laws,” which require DUI and DWI offenders to install interlock devices on their car ignition. These laws require a breathalyzer to be attached to an offender’s ignition, and the driver has to have a sober breathalyzer result each time they attempt to drive or the car will not start. Generally, people who have this type of potential rap, it becomes necessary to hire a criminal lawyer. Alabama and South Dakota are the only two states that do not currently have interlock laws.
All states currently have a specified blood alcohol limit of .08%, which was decreased from the original limit of .15%. Lowering the BAC limit to .08% gives police a greater discretion to pull over and test nearly anyone they believe has been drinking. However, this lower limit also results in many problems and flaws associated with drinking and driving laws. The original BAC limit was set at .15% because it was a level where impairment was easily visible. Every person has a different metabolic rate, therefore the amount of alcohol leading to a .08 reading can result from a different number of alcohol beverages consumed for each individual. This can result in severe penalties and jail time for even the most responsible drinker, whose metabolic rate can take longer to process the casual consumption of alcohol. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that anyone who have received this kind of a DUI or DWI charge hire the help of a competent criminal defense attorney. People needing to hire an expert DUI law firm can see the DUI lawyers directory here on the site. The penalties imposed against DUI or DWI offenders are often more harsh than punishments for crimes against persons. Therefore, the best way to avoid these severe consequences is to know your limit and drink responsibly.
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