Driving under the influence, or DUI, is one of the most common charges that everyday people can face in their lifetime. While no one will say that intoxicated driving is a safe activity to engage in, it is quite obvious that the penalties for the crime sometimes far outweigh the actual gravity of the charge. Just because a person blows over the legal blood alcohol content, or BAC, level on a breathalyzer doesn’t mean that they’re automatically guilty. There are several things that a person should expect and know when they are charged with a DUI.
Submitting to a Breathalyzer or Chemical Test
Many people believe that there will be no evidence against them if they refuse a chemical test that could prove that they are under the influence. This is simply not the case. There are actually even jurisdictions that consider refusal of a breathalyzer test to be evidence in and of itself. Refusal also brings an automatic suspension of a person’s license. This suspension cannot usually be overturned like one that involves a DUI charge. With this all being considered, it is imperative to not refuse a breathalyzer, even if it is unwarranted.
Can I Avoid a License Suspension?
If a person refuses a breathalyzer test, this may preempt them from getting their license back before the end of their suspension. However, it is possible to have a suspension overturned after being arrested and even convicted of a DUI. A license suspension comes from a state’s driver services department, and it has nothing to do with the criminal proceedings. A good lawyer can appeal a suspension and argue that it is unwarranted. The state must usually show three distinct things for a suspension to stand, and an attorney only has to disprove one of them. So it is very possible to keep your license.
What Penalties will I Face?
According to our Virginia DUI lawyer, penalties for a DUI conviction will vary considerably from state to state and dependant on the circumstances of a case. A first DUI conviction can lead to jail time, but it usually only results in serious fines, probation, community service, loss of license and sometimes the installation of an interlock ignition device on your vehicle. Subsequent DUIs can lead to more serious jail time, fines and even a permanent suspension of driving privileges.
Judges can also mandate that a person attend alcohol and drug related classes after being convicted of a DUI. All of these penalties will greatly increase if anyone dies or suffers great bodily injury due to the drunken driving. Even for first time DUI offenders these circumstances can lead to a charge of felony DUI, which will likely bring serious jail time.
Am I Guilty if I Blow Over .08?
The legal BAC throughout the nation is .08% for legal drinkers. Many people plead guilty once they know they’ve surpassed this mark, but this is often a mistake. There are several legitimate defenses for DUI charges. For instance, if a police officer did not have probable cause to pull a person over, then the results of a breathalyzer can be thrown out as evidence. There is also the chance that a person was under the legal limit while driving, but not at the time of their breathalyzer. This defense usually is only employed when there has been a stretch of time between the stop and the chemical test.
Driving under the influence is obviously a serious matter, but this doesn’t mean that people aren’t sometimes punished more severely than they should be. It also doesn’t mean that the state was on legal ground when they made the arrest. Anyone charged with a DUI, should contact a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Facing these charges alone is an option, but it’s just not a very good one.
Krista Langford is a Mother Against Drunk Driving advocate and a contributing author for the Wilson Law Firm. It is unlikely that anyone can predict the outcome of a given criminal case – they are each unique and have many variables. An experienced Virginia dui lawyer will not predict the verdict of your DUI case; rather, they will review with you the various possible defenses.