It doesn’t matter your involvement in a DUI, DUIs suck! No one plans to get a DUI, so it is rare to have a plan already in place if it happens to you. You want to make the right decisions but often, you must make those decisions in a quick and timely manner.
Arming yourself with a little knowledge can go a long way with the impact a DUI will have on your life.
DUI charges are criminal offenses and should be taken seriously. The consequences and case navigation are not simple or built for your success. Understanding the basics of a DUI will help you in many ways and taking everything one step at a time will reduce the pain and stress of your case.
Let’s review the basics of a DUI and some frequently asked questions to help you through your DUI case.
What is a DUI citation?
A DUI citation is a ticket issued when a person is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Depending on the severity of the situation, a DUI can be classified as a felony or misdemeanor.
What is a BAC?
BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration which is the calculation of how much alcohol is in your bloodstream. Your BAC is a big determining factor in the consequences you will receive from your DUI case.
Will a DUI impact my ability to drive?
Yes. DUIs will impact your freedom to drive, usually starting once you receive your ticket. In some states, cars will be impounded and your license can be suspended immediately. Suspension of driving privileges can range from 30 days to years depending on driving history. Aside from the initial impact on your ability to drive, getting your license restored can be difficult and often result in increased insurance, traffic school or treatment programs, and the installation of an ignition interlock device. Many states offer a temporary permit until your DUI case is completed and usually a hearing is required with the DMV in order to obtain this permit.
Note: Often your window to request such a hearing is within 7 to 10 days from your ticket.
Do any states not have DUI laws?
No, all states have DUI laws. It is a crime in every single state to operate a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. The details and consequences of the law vary, but the same premise remains the same throughout the United States.
What is the difference between a field sobriety test and a required chemical test?
When it comes to what tests you can refuse and what tests you are required to take, things can get confusing. A simple way to gauge this is, if you have been taken into police custody or not.
- Typically, if you have not been taken into custody and are still at/near your vehicle, the tests the officer will ask you to take are called field sobriety tests (FSTs). FSTs are not required to take and are really only used for gathering evidence against you. If the officer asks you to get out of the vehicle to perform FSTs, there is already an extremely high chance you are going to be arrested regardless. It is advised to stay quiet except to ask to speak privately with an attorney, and that you will only answer questions under the advice of an attorney.
- If you have been arrested/detained by the officer you will no longer be at your car or on the street, and the breath, blood or urine test requested after that are required. Refusing them will usually cause a one-year suspension of your driver’s license, regardless of the outcome of your case.
What is zero tolerance?
Many States operate with Zero tolerance, meaning that regardless of the State or Federal BAC limits, it is up to the officer’s discretion in determining if a DUI citation should be given and sorted out in court.
Federal Law states a BAC over 0.08% must be ticketed for a DUI.
When driving a commercial vehicle, most states consider a DUI if over a 0.04% BAC.
Some States, such as Colorado, have DUI tickets for BACs lower than the Federal limit.
In all states, underaged drivers with any trace of alcohol are held accountable to a zero-tolerance enforcement.
Does a DUI citation go on your record?
This question can be confusing to people because you have a few different records that can be impacted by a DUI charge and/or conviction.
There is your “Criminal Record” where a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony would appear after a conviction in court.
Then you have your “Driving Record” where a traffic offense will appear after conviction in court.
Lastly, you have your “Arrest Record” where anytime you are arrested, a record of it is immediately placed into your arrest record. Many states make arrest records and mug shots public information. There are organizations who take this info and promote it online and hold hostage for a fee to remove it. With that being said, there are also companies who fight these organizations and protect your online reputation.
What happens if you lie on a police report?
In many states reporting false information to a police officer is a crime and considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, resulting in potential jail time, probation, and fines. The fact you lied to an officer of the law when you have the right to remain silent and not answer will usually play as evidence against you in your case.
What variables impact a DUI charge and penalty?
DUI charges, penalties, and verbiage vary by each state, however, the process of the court is very similar in each state. Furthermore, most states run you through 2 different types of courts, City or County Court for the criminal charges and Administrative Court for your Driver’s License/DMV.
Your court process will be affected by the variables of your arrest, charges, and prior record.
Penalties are also very similar in each state but the amount of time required and intensity of each penalty can vary by state and by the charges against you.
Most states have jail time, fines, probation and community service required for DUI convictions. Additionally, many states require substance abuse screening, counseling or some sort of DUI School or Program along with Ignition Interlock and high-risk insurance coverage.
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