Drive Sober or Risk Arrest

Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI) and operating under the influence (OUI) – all refer to drunken driving charges (the difference in terminology depends only on the state where one is arrested and charged). Drunken driving is the cause of more than a third of all traffic fatalities, which number to about 35,000 every year, the very reason why it is considered as a major driving offense. In 2010, the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics registered 13,365 fatal car accidents, while the number of those arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or both, was 1.4 million.

In all states, driving with a 0.08% (or higher) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is a crime, and though the severity of punishment imposed on offenders vary from one state to another, there is one certain uniformity in all jurisdictions – the punishments are severe. A first offense DUI is usually treated as a misdemeanor; it could be raised to a felony charge, however, if the alcohol-impaired driver injures or kills someone, of if his or her BAC level is higher than the 0.08% limit (in some states, a third or fourth DUI offense can automatically lead to a felony charge). Federal and state authorities are hell-bent on catching violators of the anti-drunk driving law, thus, they are sharp and focused on observing any signs of drunken driving, like swerving, braking erratically, driving too slowly, stopping for no apparent reason and zig-zagging across the road. For this same end, they set up sobriety checkpoints to measure drivers’ level of alcohol impairment. According to the website of Truslow & Trsulow, Attorneys at Law, a DUI felony entails costly fines and at least one year jail time (maximum of one year imprisonment is allowed in a misdemeanor charge). In some states, a felony leads to other heavy sentences, such as:

  • Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock – a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects in the driver a BAC level that is higher than what is considered a safe level (about 0.02%)
  • Administrative License Suspension (ALS) – a law that authorizes law enforcers to confiscate a driver’s license if the driver fails a chemical test. This can last for 90 days – 180 days, during which driving privileges may be limited to/from work
  • Open Container Law – this law, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), requires states to prohibit the possession of open alcohol beverage containers, as well as the consumption of an alcoholic beverage, in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on all public roads.

If there is one very important thing that a person charged with a DUI felony should do, it’s get legal help. Felonies are serious charges, thus, no one should take them lightly or be led to the thought the he or she can easily defend him/herself and get an acquittal – this move can be suicidal. Knowing and understanding DUI or DWI more may just make a person think twice before sitting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

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