Driving under the influence (DUI) is the criminal offense of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, including drugs prescribed by physicians. For alcohol, a drunk driver’s level of intoxication is determined by measuring their blood alcohol content (BAC). There’s a specific threshold level, such as a BAC measurement of 0.05%, which defines criminal offense if exceeded. According to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, about a third of all drivers who die in car crashes in the U.S. have blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% or more. By legal definition, the criminal offense may not actually involve driving of the vehicle, but may broadly include having physical control of the car while intoxicated, even if the individual charged is not actually driving.
Even for first time offenders, DUI conviction is a very serious matter. Possible consequences include jail time and probation as well as suspension of driver’s license. DUI convictions are actually made up of two parts: administrative license suspension and criminal court case. The administrative aspect is a civil proceeding dealing with your driving record and license. The criminal case covers penalties, fines, and sentencing. An administrative license suspension may involve your license being taken away even before you are found guilty in the criminal court case. The administrative hearing is completely separate from the criminal case.
Aftermath and Effects
There are numerous effects of a DUI conviction, and some of them can be long term. In addition to jail time, there is the possibility of loss of a job, inability to get a job, and having insurance rates increased significantly. Other possible effects depend on factors such as age and whether the offender is a first-time offender or a repeat offender.
If an offender is under the age of 21 and is convicted for the first time, they may face penalties such as:
• Loss of driving privileges for a minimum of 2 years
• Class A misdemeanor with a possible imprisonment of up to 12 months
• Fines up to $2,500
First time offenders over the age of 21 may face penalties such as the following:
• Loss of driving privileges for a minimum of 1 year
• Fines up to $2,500
• 100 Hours of Community Service
When You Need An Attorney
If you have a DUI case on your hands, you may have assessed your possibility of winning a trial and whether you need an attorney. It would be a good idea to get an experienced attorney’s opinions about the strength of your case. You don’t need an attorney to plead guilty but if you are only leaning toward a guilty plea but are uncertain, hire an attorney or sign up for a public defender (if you are eligible). Although you are entitled to represent yourself at a DUI trial, it is not recommended. Finding a good DUI attorney can be done using word-of-mouth from people you can trust or through searching a directory.