What Do You Need to Know About DUI Laws?

Being convicted of DUI (driving under the influence) can be life-changing. It impacts your life in ways you can never imagine like family and personal embarrassment, aggravated financial setbacks, loss of employment and even prevention of employment in specific jobs, higher insurance rates, and having a bad driving record for years (and even for forever).

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a crime that is a problem in almost every nation, country, and state as it has been the major cause of accidents, violence, and destruction of property. We see this in movies and in the news almost every day. A police officer will pull the suspect at the side of the road to ask questions about the accident and then ask for the suspect’s driver’s license.

If found guilty, the suspect may be punished depending on the gravity of the situation or DUI law in a specific state. It could lead to community service and a fine. And if it’s really that bad, the suspect may be put in jail. Here are some terms you may want to know:

DUI & DWI Terms

  • Implied Consent: In every state, motorists consent to a police stop and BAC or Blood-Alcohol Concentration test as a condition of receiving a driver's license. Failure to submit to a BAC test breaks this agreement and results in a driver's license suspension.
  • Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC): The concentration of alcohol in the suspect’s bloodstream, which is used to determine a suspect’s level of alcohol impairment.
  • Drug Recognition Experts: Officers specially trained to determine the drug impairment of a DUI suspect.
  • DUI Checkpoints: Roadblocks set up by police, typically along busy roadways during New Year's Eve and other alcohol-related events, in which motorists are checked for impairment at random. So you may want to think about drinking on holidays because you can be sure the police will do their jobs in preventing accidents by arresting those who are DUI.

DUI convictions usually result in hefty fines and warrants criminal record. Anyone who will be proven driving under the influence of alcohol is most likely to be jailed too.

It’s quite obvious that drunk-driving accidents often cause death or serious injuries not only to the vehicle’s drivers and passengers but also to innocent bystanders. A number of state DUI laws will call for a felony DUI case where the driver’s intoxication may have caused harm or death to people in the surrounding area.

This pretty much focuses on legal issues surrounding drunk-driving accidents including civil liability for injuries and state laws regarding the legality of blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) testing after an accident. If the driver is involved in the accident is proven guilty, then the affected person may claim damages in a civil lawsuit. They may also pursue a wrongful death lawsuit if a family member is killed by an accident caused by the said drunk driver.

In order to make this happen, you have to make your case strong and establish the level of intoxication of the defendant. You have to prove to the court that the driver’s alcohol level was too high for driving and the probability of the accident was imminent and that the defendant failed to exercise extreme caution of his environment. Evidence such as these will also include the police report of the incident, witness reports, and expert opinions.

Thus, most state laws regarding BAC testing of the prime suspect after serious accidents fall into one of the following two categories, although these laws vary in scope:

  • Mandatory Testing - Many states require BAC testing of all drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians who are fatally injured in the vehicular accident. Roughly half of U.S. states have mandatory testing laws.
  • Discretionary Testing - Some states allow for BAC testing of individuals who are fatally injured in a car accident, although it is up to the discretion of medical examiners or other officials. More than 10 US states have discretionary testing laws.

Drunk driving is taken seriously by courts since it is often dangerous to both motorists and pedestrians. So you can be sure the stakes for DUI cases are quite high. If you’re convicted, chances are, you will lose your driver’s license for a certain period of time, pay a fine that would give your parents or family a reason not to let you drive any vehicle. Worse case is you’ll get jailed especially if you keep doing it.

If you have been accused of a DUI or DWI, contacting a lawyer who is well experienced in this area of law is very important. Hiring a lawyer either to represent you or give you some consultation services is tremendously helpful as he is able to advise you of the laws in your state, the local prosecuting office’s petition bargaining tendencies, and the inferences for your driver’s license. A lawyer can also explore probable defenses for you. If your Chicago DUI attorney fails to dismiss the case, he may appeal and be able to at least reduce the sentence.

If you can’t afford a lawyer, then the United States Constitution guarantees the assistance of an attorney to almost all folks who have been charged. Usually, they are employed by the government as public defenders and they are responsible for protecting a criminal defendant’s rights in all stages of the criminal process from arrest to appeal.