There were times when life was one great merry-go-round of working hard and partying harder when being accosted with a bottle in your car was not frowned upon as long as you didn’t create a nuisance or cause injury to somebody else. Those times have changed rapidly, attitudes have been transformed, and state and federal laws have been tightened. Driving your vehicle under the influence of alcohol, in an inebriated condition, is now a severe violation of traffic laws that attracts a stiff penalty, steeper fines and longer jail terms – penalties that have raised this category of offense to the level of a serious crime.
You can take it for granted that in the majority of states testing positive to blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, or failing a battery of field sobriety tests means you are sure to be booked for DUI. The BAC parameters are even lower if you happen to be a commercial driver with a firm (operating with an authorized commercial driving license) and you are below the age of 21 years.
Being in an inebriated condition through use of alcohol and driving a car subsequently can see youviolating traffic rules by “driving under the influence” (DUI), meaning you are impaired by alcohol, or you could be violating the rules by “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) when abuse of other substances is detected. This way both terms can be used with a similar meaning or be given wholly different weightage in assessing the violation of rules. In some states DUI is considered as a minor offense whereas DWI is the more serious crime. BAC higher than 0.08 percent could see you being charged with a DWI.
Whether caught driving under the influence or intoxicated, penalties are stiffer
The prolonged social consequences of a DUI/ DWI conviction can ruin your life all of a sudden, and it pays to be aware of the seriousness of this crime.
It is possible in certain states that the judge may perceive the offense as not just a DUI/DWI, but as a felony. This is particularly true where the DUI is preceded by multiple other convictions that are serious in nature. If for example your inebriation has caused an accident and personal injury and / or vehicular damage has resulted to other persons, you could be convicted for felony DUI. The conviction for third DUI within ten years can also be raised to felony category. If by driving under the influence you cause accidental death, your punishment could be long term incarceration for manslaughter or vehicular homicide.
The judge might not be inclined to give a “not guilty” verdict or look the other way when the offense is serious, but a clever attorney could pick flaws in the prosecution’s arguments. The attorney could question the validity of the traffic stop request, or mode of reasoning or competence of the law officer or he could question the accuracy of the field sobriety tests or breathalyzer test. In some instances the police video of the incident might reveal that the person had cleared the field tests and was wrongfully charged and arrested.
Nothing prevents you from requesting the judge to expunge a DUI arrest and charge from the records, and in many first offences this may be acceded to. The judge might also stipulate conditions for expungement to take effect. Your request could also be disallowed if the offense is of a serious nature or where injury or property damage is explicit. In some instances charges and the arrest itself will be expunged but the same leniency may not be extended to conviction. It is important to note that the law enforcement authorities will retain access to criminal records with or without expungement. So if you are a history-sheeter your records will definitely show up.
The DUI offense can’t be treated as a run of the mill transgression committed in the heat of the moment and which shouldn’t be accorded more importance than its due. On the contrary it should be taken seriously and a good attorney should be hired to help you successfully navigate the maze of twists and turns that would otherwise lead to ghastly consequences.