Anyone who is operating a motorized vehicle or a vehicle with any type of drive train can get a DUI-type offense. This includes the use of motorized watercraft, lawnmowers, mopeds, and even non-motorized bicycles.
Individuals using skateboards, rollerblades, etc., would not be charged with a DUI offense if they are stopped while they are intoxicated on these conveyances, but could be charged with some other offense, such as public intoxication, depending on the jurisdiction where the offense occurs. There are several general issues to be aware of when an individual is charged with a DUI offense. All of these issues will vary from state to state, jurisdiction to jurisdiction, etc. In order to learn the exact details regarding DUI type offenses in one’s state, consult with a licensed attorney. All of these offenses indicate that the individual has been apprehended by a police officer while operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officer only needs to have an inclination that an individual might be intoxicated from their behavior, mild inconsistencies in their driving, their posture while they are driving, or for any number of other reasons that the officer can choose to make an initial stop. Once the officer stops the individual, they can administer tests to confirm if the individual is legally intoxicated. DUI type offenses may or might not be felonies. In most jurisdictions, an individual who is getting a first-time DUI will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor. However, an individual who severely injures or kills someone while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs will be charged with a felony. Some states now also charge individuals with felonies even for first-time offenses if they have a very high BAC; the level can vary from state to state, but as an overall standard, a BAC of 0.15 or higher is a red flag to most legal authorities. If an individual is arrested for a DUI-type offense while their driving privileges have been suspended or restricted, they may be charged with higher-level offenses. The trend in numerous states is also to charge individuals with multiple DUI offenses with felony convictions after they have been arrested many times for DUIs or similar offenses (most often, three times or more). Thus, in many states, after an individual has two (or three) DUI convictions on their record, any subsequent arrests for DUIs are felony convictions.
Things That Happen If You Get a DUI Charge
If you are arrested for drunken driving in any state in the U.S., there are several things that are going to happen that will cost you money. If you are convicted of driving under the influence and you want to get your driving privileges back, things are going to get very expensive. Court appearances, fines, and fees are just the beginning for convicted drunk drivers. There is also the expense of going to DUI school, getting evaluated for a drinking problem, getting treatment if you have a problem, paying higher insurance premiums and having an interlock device installed on your vehicle, in many states. The following sections outline in detail some of the things that will happen if you get a DUI. None of them are fun, and most are expensive.
Arrested and Booked
If you are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, the first thing that will happen is you will be placed into a police vehicle and taken to the nearest police station or jail. There your photograph (mug shot) will be taken and you will be fingerprinted. In some states, you can be released immediately if someone comes to the jail and pays your bail and drives you home. Several states have laws requiring minimum jail time of at least several days for a first offense.
Appear in Court For A DUI
At the time of your arrest, you will be given a ticket or a summons that tells you the date that you have to appear in court to face driving under the influence charges. For some drivers, it is a humiliating experience to have to appear in public to answer charges of being drunk. In today’s courts, if you deny the charges, plead not guilty and try to fight the case, chances are you and everyone else in the courtroom, are going to see a video of yourself failing the field sobriety test taken from the officer’s dashboard camera or taken at the jail where you were processed.
You’ll Lose Your Driver’s License For A DUI
In all states, even for a first-time conviction, your sentence will include the loss of driving privileges for a period of time. Even in states that offer a hardship license that allows you to drive to work or school during the time your license is revoked or suspended, your driving privileges are drastically curtailed. In some states, if you refused to take the field sobriety test or submit to a breathalyzer or blood test, your driver’s license is suspended immediately, even before you go to court.
You’ll Pay a Fine For a DUI
If you are convicted of driving while intoxicated, part of your sentence will definitely include paying a fine. All states have laws setting minimum and maximum fines for drunk driving, but those penalties can be enhanced by other circumstances. For example, if the property was damaged, someone was injured or a child was endangered as a result of your driving while drunk, the fines can be increased. In most states, you will also have to pay the court costs associated with your case.
You’ll Likely Go to Jail For a DUI
In a growing number of states, jail terms have become mandatory even for first-time drunk driving offenders. Typically, first-offender jail terms are only one or two days that can be served on a weekend, but it is still jail time. For repeat offenders, jail is mandatory in most states and the terms are longer than a couple of days. And again, if there are aggravating circumstances connected with your DUI case, the penalties can be increased.
You’ll Need To Complete the Terms of Probation
Even if you are not sentenced to any jail time for your DUI conviction, you will probably be given a probation sentence, the terms of which are determined by the sentencing judge. If you fail to meet the terms of probation, you can be sent to jail, even if you are a high-profile Hollywood celebrity. Regardless of the terms, the probation sentence itself is another expense you will have to pay. Typically, this is a monthly fee you must pay for the cost of administering and supervising your probated sentence.
Undergo Alcohol Evaluation
As part of the court-ordered alcohol education and assessment program mentioned above, a trained counselor will also evaluate your pattern of alcohol consumption to determine if you have an alcohol abuse disorder. Typically, the evaluator will ask you a series of questions about how alcohol affects your life. If the evaluation finds that you’re drinking rises to the level of alcohol abuse or dependence, you may also have to undergo a court-approved alcohol treatment program before you can get your driving privileges back.
DUI Punishments and Penalties
As with any criminal charge, a person charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If guilt is established (often through the defendant’s own plea or after a jury trial), the penalty will depend on state law, as well as on any aggravating circumstances (such as the presence of an open bottle of liquor in the car) and the defendant’s cooperation with the police.
In all states, first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail. That jail time may be increased under certain circumstances. For example, some states mandate more severe punishments for DUI or DUI offenders whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest was particularly high—for example, .15% or .20%, very high considering the legal limit of .08%. Many states also require minimum jail sentences of at least several days on a first offense. Subsequent offenses often result in jail sentences of several months to a year. For a DUI or DWI that’s been classified as a felony either because the driver killed or injured someone or because it’s the driver’s third or fourth DUI jail sentences of several years are not uncommon. Again, this depends on state law, the facts of the case, and the discretion of the judge at trial.
In addition to jail sentences, courts can and do impose high fines for DUI or DWI. These range from $500 to as much as $2,000.
Driver’s License Problems
A DUI or DWI offender stands a good chance of having his or her license suspended for a substantial period of time (either by court order or mandate of the state motor vehicles department). For example, many states suspend a first offender’s license for 90 days; a second offender’s license for one year; and a third offender’s license for three years. Refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test can result in a license suspension regardless of the finding of guilt, in addition to other penalties in many states. However, sometimes it’s possible to obtain a “hardship license” to drive to and from places like work and school during a suspension. Some states take further steps to make sure the person (particularly a repeat offender) doesn’t get back on the road. The state may confiscate the car or cancel its registration, either temporarily or permanently. Or the state may require an ignition interlock device (IID) to be attached to the DUI or DWI offender’s car. This device requires the driver to blow into a small handheld alcohol sensor unit attached to the dashboard. If the person’s BAC is above a preset level (usually .02% to .04%), the car won’t start.
Alternative Forms of Punishment
A number of states’ court sentences may include alternative sentencing, such as alcohol teaching and prevention programs, treatment for alcohol abuse, assessment of a person for possible alcohol or drug dependency or addiction, and community service or victim restitution. The judge may recommend these steps instead of jail time or paying fines, most likely for a first offender. Or the judge may combine them with other penalties. In Texas, for example, minors convicted of a DUI must perform community service, in addition to any other penalties.
A minor who is arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs won’t get any breaks from punishment in fact, being young is likely to make matters worse. The legal drinking age is 21 in most states, so drinking before that age is a separate crime. In addition, some states penalize underage drivers based on lower BAC levels than the standard .05% for adults, typically .02%. The state may impose adult sentences on minors, and underage DUI offenders are likely to have their licenses suspended for one year.
In addition to legal penalties, the driver’s insurance company may cancel the insurance policy or drastically increase the rates because of the hit to the person’s driving record. And a drunk driving charge stays on a person’s driving record for many years. Plus, if the driver’s license is suspended, the insurance company is likely to cancel the insurance policy. Certain jobs may be closed to those who’ve been convicted of DUI or DWI, such as driving a school bus, delivery van, or any other vehicle as part of their employment. Finally, the driver may face a separate civil lawsuit if accident victims decide to sue for property damages or bodily injuries.
Reasons DUI Criminal Charges May Be Dismissed Before Trial
Driving under the influence (DUI) charges can be dismissed before the actual trial begins. Sometimes, the prosecution may dismiss the case on their own because of known defects in their case. Usually, DUI cases are dismissed because of persuasive criminal defense lawyer arguments and motions. Defendants should regularly plead not guilty to DUI charges because often the police failed to follow proper procedure, the district attorney doesn’t have the evidence needed to prove a conviction, or the prosecution knows there’s a reasonable likelihood of acquittal if the case does go to trial. The prosecutor is the main person who drops or dismisses the charge. Judges can authorize dismissals too. The end result for the client is that he/she is free to continue their life without worrying about a criminal record or a court case. Each criminal case is different. DUI cases generally depend on the police following proper procedures and on the results of any chemical tests.
Yalecrest Utah DUI Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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