Driving under the influence, commonly referred to as DUI, is a common driving violation. It involves operating or driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or recreational or prescribed drugs. Being under the influence compromises not only the driver’s safety but also the safety of motorists and pedestrians.
If you’re a first-time driver or even an experienced driver who hasn’t thought about how DUI works, it’s high time to equip yourself with information about it.
Types Of DUI Violations
There are different types of DUI violations, depending on the state and the levels of blood alcohol content (BAC) levels in your body when you’re caught. It is best to talk to a expert if you or a loved one is currently facing this charge. Go over this website to find out more about how a DUI lawyer can help you.
Check the following types of DUI charges or drug and alcohol-related violations.
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI): This offense is charged if you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
- Aggravated driving while intoxicated (AGG-DWI): This offense is charged if you have a BAC of 0.18% or higher.
- Driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI/Alcohol): This offense is charged if you have more than 0.05% but less than 0.07% BAC.
- DWAI by a Single Drug other than Alcohol (DWAI/Drug): This offense is charged if you drove under the influence of a single controlled substance.
- DWAI by a Combined Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DWAI/Combination): This offense is charged if you drove under the influence of multiple controlled substances.
- Zero Tolerance Law: This offense is charged if a driver who is less than 21 years old with a 0.02% to 0.07% BAC violates this law.
- Chemical Test Refusal: If you refuse to take a breath test or any chemical test to determine DUI, you can be charged with this offense.
Misdemeanor DUI Charges
The law considers most drunk driving charges as a misdemeanor. DUI convictions with the absence of any aggravating factors often lead to getting misdemeanor criminal charges. Expect more severe penalties whenever you incur an offense.
Generally, the first conviction usually can lead to a jail sentence with a maximum of six months imprisonment, whereas the second and third offenses give one year. Also, your license can be suspended for one year on the first offense, two years for the second, and three years for the third offense. As for the fines, expect to pay USD$390 to USD$1,000 for the first and second offenses, and USD$1,000 to USD$1,800 for the third DUI charge.
Felony DUI Charges
A more serious charge than a misdemeanor is a felony. DUI can be charged as a felony offense if any of these scenarios happen:
- Drunk driving caused serious injury or death by another person.
- The offender has three or more DUI convictions in ten years.
- The offender has a record of felony DUI conviction in the past.
The consequences of a felony DUI charge are usually based on the case’s circumstances. For a DUI case involving injury or death of another person, punishment can include up to USD$5,000 criminal fines, license suspension for five years, and up to 16 years of jail sentence.
BAC Level Is Enough As Case Evidence
Even if your BAC is way below the legal limit, there’s still a chance that you can get charged with DUI. BAC is considered evidence, and having above BAC levels is substantial evidence, requiring no additional evidence to be convicted of it. Basically, even if you’re not drunk or you just drank a bottle or two, you can still get caught.
In New York, a driver with a 0.05% to 0.07% BAC level can be charged with DWAI, resulting in a USD$500 fine, USD$260 surcharge, 90 days driver’s license suspension, and 15 days imprisonment. A driver found to have combined alcohol and drugs will obtain a separate similar misdemeanor offense.
Ways To Reduce A DUI Charge
A DUI charge can strike your good track record, affecting your family, career, and even your finances. Because of grave consequences, it’s vital to establish the strongest defense possible.
However, if the case is strong, you should check the following ways to lessen the penalties caused by a DUI charge:
- Join a drunk-driving education program: Instead of paying hefty fines or jail time, you can participate in a drunk-driving education program. Get to learn the dangers of risky driving behavior and the effects of drugs and alcohol on your body. Some states require offenders to participate in an alcohol education program (AEP). And it is often a mandatory component of a DUI sentence.
- Negotiate for a plea bargain: Your attorney can negotiate for a plea bargain if there are issues like insufficient evidence or other shortcomings to reduce your sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. While reckless driving tends to have harsher penalties, pleading guilty can help remove DUI from your record.
- Probation: A driver who doesn’t have any DUI conviction or any criminal record can apply for probation in exchange for imprisonment. Some probation terms that may apply include undergoing a substance abuse assessment, payment of probation fees or court fines, driver’s license suspension, random drug testing, and meeting with the probation office.
- Rehabilitation program: Repeat offenders don’t have many options. Hence, they need to face prison time. First-time offenses that resulted in injury or accident also have the same fate. However, in some cases, a person can reduce the penalty is by undergoing an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. The offender needs to complete the treatment and spend the same amount of time included in the imprisonment penalty.
- DUI charge expungement: A DUI criminal record can ruin your chances of landing a good-paying job. So, one way to get rid of this record is to have it expunged. Expungement is the process of erasing a DUI from a person’s criminal record, which is only possible if this case involved no jail time and probation. It’s typically available to first-time offenders with clean criminal records.
Facing a DUI charge is not easy at all because it entails limiting your freedom, spending out of your pocket, and suspending your license to drive. Now that you know the possible consequences of DUI, it’s important to be vigilant, follow traffic rules, and enforce defensive driving at all times.
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