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DUI Frequently Asked Questions

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Due to the fact that "driving under the influence" (DUI) is the most highly committed crime in the United States, it is logical to conclude that many individuals have more than a few questions about the topic of "driving under the influence".

As a result of the prevalence of DUI incidents as well as the dangerous and at times fatal consequences that are correlated with DUI-related accidents, we are presenting some of the most frequently asked questions about driving under the influence.

What is "DUI"?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as the criminal act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both. DUI is also the criminal act of operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher for adults and .02 or greater for people who are less than 21 years old.

It is important to emphasize the fact that an individual can be charged with "driving under the influence" if he or she operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of any amount of drugs or alcohol, or a combination of the two, which makes the person unable to safely operate the vehicle that he or she is driving.

The key point to highlight here is that an adult can receive a DUI with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is less than .08%.

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Why do I need a DUI attorney?

Once a DUI lawyer is hired to fight for you, he or she will immediately begin going through every detail to see if there's any procedure that was not properly followed.

That is, he or she will be looking to see if the officer did everything in the proper manner and whether or not there was a "lawful stop."

A DUI attorney will see if there's a way to get your case dismissed, and if this possibility does not exist, your DUI lawyer will be looking at what viable defenses there are to winning your case.

DUI has become a very complicated area of the law. In fact, more than a few criminal defense lawyers will admit that given the many talents needed to be mastered by a DUI defense lawyer, this area of specialization can be one of the most difficult areas of criminal law in which the attorney can engage.

DUI defense typically includes challenging the "stop and arrest." Other critical areas of DUI defense are getting the breath test results suppressed. Even if the breath test is not suppressed, moreover, a "drunk driving" lawyer will be able to discount the results altogether. Recent challenges that have led to "suppression" include the following:

  • A constitutional challenge to the new DUI statute itself.

  • A lack of calibration and certification of a thermometer in the testing machine.

  • Defective warnings prior to conducting the test.

  • Software problems in the testing machine.

When I got a DUI, the officer took my license but I still need to drive to work. What can I do?

You can apply at any department of motor vehicles field office for a "restricted license" that will enable you to drive to and from work.

When does a DUI become a felony?

There are numerous ways that your DUI may be charged as a felony DUI or an aggravated DUI:

  • In most states, if you are arrested for DUI while driving on a suspended or revoked license you may be charged with a felony (or an aggravated) DUI.

  • In most states, if you are arrested for DUI that results in severe injury or death you may be charged with an aggravated DUI or a felony DUI.

  • Under certain state laws, if you have been convicted of two DUIs within the past 7 years, another arrest means that you will be charged with a felony DUI.

  • In most states, if you are driving with a child under the age of 15 in your vehicle and you are arrested for DUI you will be charged with a felony DUI even if you have no prior DUI convictions.

What are the first steps usually undertaken in a DUI defense?

In most instances, the DUI lawyer will initiate a comprehensive interview of the person who received the DUI before accepting the case. The lawyer will review all the written documents related to the arrest, the breath or blood test report, and the traffic ticket that was written.

The initial interview will usually take between sixty and ninety minutes. Every aspect of your DUI case and the applicable laws will be addressed and discussed.

The initial interview is totally confidential and all information related to this interview will be held in strictest confidence.

If the lawyer decides to accept your case, he or she will then present you with a detailed written contract for you to review. If you agree to the terms of the contract, you will then become the attorney's client and the attorney will then start the representation process.

I have a commercial driver license. Are there "extra" issues for me if I am arrested for DUI?

Yes, in most states, an individual who has a commercial driver's license (CDL) will be subject to much stricter standards than drivers who do not have a CDL.

For example, if the driver with the CDL was driving a "commercial" vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest, an evidentiary blood or breath alcohol test result of .04% is sufficient to convict him or her of DUI.

Furthermore, if the driver with the CDL was driving a "private" vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest, on the other hand, and is subsequently convicted of DUI, in most states, the driver may lose his or her commercial driver's license for one year for a first DUI offense and for "life" for second DUI offense.

What should I do if I'm asked to take field sobriety tests?

There is a wide range of field sobriety tests including the "fingers-to-thumb" test, the "modified position of attention" test, the "horizontal gaze (Nystagmus)" test, the "alphabet recitation" test, the "one-leg stand" test, the "finger-to-nose" test, or the "heel-to-toe" test. Most police officers will resort to a "set" of three to five different field sobriety tests.

Unlike chemical tests such as a breathalyzer test, a blood alcohol test, or a saliva test, where refusal to take such a test can have far-reaching and negative consequences, a person is not legally required to take any field sobriety tests.

The reality of the situation is that police officers have usually made up their minds to arrest the person when they administer one of more of the field sobriety tests.

In short, field sobriety tests provide additional evidence that the driver inevitably "fails." Consequently, and in most instances, a polite refusal to take any field sobriety test may be appropriate.

What is implied consent?

Any person who operates a motor vehicle within one of the U.S. states and is arrested for a "driving under the influence" offense is presumed to have given consent for a test of his or her breath, blood, urine, or other bodily substance for the articulated purpose of determining the individual's blood alcohol content level (BAC).

The police officer has the legal authority to decide what type of test the driver must undergo and the power to request more than one type of test.

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If my license is suspended for DUI will it automatically be reinstated?

Remember that driving privileges are not automatically reinstated after a suspension due to a DUI conviction.

The driver needs to complete some paperwork and pay a fee before his or her driving privileges are reinstated. If the driver fails to do this, his or her driving privileges will still be considered as suspended.

Does a person who received a DUI have the right to challenge his or her license suspension?

Yes, a person has the legal right to challenge his or her license suspension due to a DUI or another traffic violation.

In fact, a person can request a hearing concerning the suspension of his or her license by taking his or her notice of revocation to his or her local DMV. If the person requests a hearing, he or she will be given a temporary driving permit that will allow him or her to drive until the hearing date.

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