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Basics of DUI

All Legal Articles

Article courtesy of Richard Jacobs, editor of MyDUIattorney.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is a serious offense in all the states and has legal consequences for anyone charged with drunk driving. DUI or Driving Under the Influence refers to anyone found operating a car, vehicle or machinery while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including illegal drugs as well as prescription drugs. There are many other terms used for DUI, which may differ slightly in their context, but they mean the same thing.

DUI Acronyms

Several other acronyms are used for DUI or Driving Under the Influence which are listed below, but the all refer to the same thing.

  • DUI or Driving Under the Influence is the most commonly used acronym
  • DWI or Driving While Intoxicated is a term used in specific states instead of DUI
  • OUI or Operating Under the Influence usually refers to operating a motor vehicle or machinery while under the influence of drugs

These are the most common acronyms used for drunk driving, but there are other terms used also, including DUII (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants), DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired), OUIL (Operating Under the Influence of Liquor) and UBAl (Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level) along with several others.

What happens when someone is charged with DUI?

Drunk driving is considered a serious offense in most states, and the DUI laws vary from state to state. In most cases, a DUI may be considered a less serious crime, whereas in other states and in particular cases when an injury or death is involved, DUI is considered a serious offense or a felony, which is a serious crime.

Once charged with DUI, the charges stay on your criminal record forever. The court can order penalties in the form of heavy fines, mandatory jail time, attending alcohol and drug abuse counseling along with several other charges. The driver’s license of the charged is also immediately suspended, which has to be reinstated by filing an appeal with the court.

When can you be arrested for DUI?

The allowed blood alcohol limit or BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) is less than 0.08% in most states and anyone found driving with BAC of 0.08% or more will be charged with DUI. BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol in the blood and indicates the level of intoxication. A lower BAC level means the person is still in control and not under the influence of alcohol, whereas an increased blood alcohol level can have different effects on behaviour in different people. A very high BAC level is also considered a felony, even if no physical harm or injury to another person was involved.

DUI laws for underage drivers

Most states have very strict laws for underage drunk driving, and they follow “zero tolerance” in this case. Anyone under the age of 21 years found driving while drunk will immediately be charged with DUI, whether or not the BAC was within limit or not. DUI laws and penalties for underage drunk drivers also vary from state to state, and some states have a limit of 0.00-0.02% in place for drunk drivers. In most states, any minor charged with drunk driving will have to face the extended loss of their driving privileges, if found under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other impairing substance.

Consequences of a DUI conviction

The possible consequences of a DUI conviction include jail time, loss of driver’s license, alcohol education programs and fines. The severity of the charge directly affects the consequences you will have to face if you are charged with DUI. For example if it is your first DUI charge, you will not have to face jail time or attend alcohol schooling, but a 2nd or 3rd DUI charge can have very serious consequences. A DUI charge also stays permanently on your criminal record and due to this reason you can expect your car insurance rates to increase.

What to do if you are suspected for DUI?

If you are approached by a police officer as a suspect to drunk driving, you have to be very careful about what you say and how you act. Any mistakes at the time of interrogation can give an indication to the officer that you are really drunk and they will go ahead with the arrest. If you are stopped as a suspect for drunk driving, you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. The police officer can also ask you to take field sobriety tests, which you can refuse. However, refusing to take the breath test will lead to the instant suspension of your driver’s license, so you should only refuse to take the test if you are sure your BAC level will be above the allowed legal limit.

What to do if you are charged with DUI?

If you are charged with DUI, your driver’s license will be suspended and you will have to file a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within the next 7 days of being charged to reinstate your driver’s license. You must also get in touch with a DUI lawyer as soon as possible who can take care of the legal complications in your case. You must keep in mind that DUI is a specialized field and not every lawyer has the expertise in this area, so you must get in touch with a lawyer who is familiar with the local DUI laws in the area where you have been charged with and he or she has experience dealing with DUI cases in the past.

How long will a DUI conviction stay on your record?

A DUI charge is listed on your record and it can stay there for several years, but the duration of this varies from case to case. If you get your DUI expunged, you can have the DUI charge removed from your criminal record completely. In most states, the DUI offense stays on your record forever, while in some states like California, the DUI charge stays on your record for approximately 10 years. You can also take action to have the DUI removed from your record if allowed by your state. You will need legal help in order to make this possible.

Avoid a DUI at all costs

The legal complications and the consequences of a DUI charge can haunt you for the rest of your life. Young adults and students especially can face problems in getting admissions to their desired colleges and universities and getting a good job. Therefore, it is always better to avoid drinking and driving at all costs.

Author Bio

Richard Jacobs is a chief editor since early 2007, and he currently works for MyDUIattorney, a Website that helps you to find the right DUI lawyer. You can search for a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer or for DWI Lawyer New Jersey online, anytime!

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