Drunk Driving / DUI
Frequently Asked Questions about Drunk Driving/DUI
Q: What is "blood alcohol level"?
A: Blood alcohol level (BAC) is a term used to describe the level of alcohol in the bloodstream of a person arrested for drunk driving. It is used in court as evidence of that offense. The most common method of determining BAC is through a breath test, although blood and urine testing is also done. If the level is found to be at or over the established legal limit, the test results can establish a presumption of impairment.
Q: Can I refuse a Breathalyzer, or breath test?
A: Although the answer can vary by state, in many cases such a refusal is itself a criminal violation subject to stiff penalties. In addition, if the case against you is ultimately proven, the penalties for the refusal may be beyond those for the offense of drunk driving alone. In some states, refusal to submit to a breath test will result in the loss of your driver license.
Q: Are breath test results always accurate?
A: A defendant in a drunk driving case may be allowed to challenge the scientific accuracy of Breathalyzer tests in general, whereas others may be allowed to challenge the particular circumstances of a test. Challenges to test results have been successful for a variety of reasons, such as improperly calibrated equipment or inadequately trained officers.. An experienced and properly trained DUI / DWI defense attorney knows when and how to make these challenges.
Q: What if I lose my license but continue to drive anyhow?
A: If a person whose license has been revoked or suspended due to drunk driving chooses to drive without a valid license and is pulled over, he or she stands to suffer more serious consequences, including fines and imprisonment. The more prudent course of action is to rely on friends and family for rides or use public transportation.
Q: How can I get automobile insurance after a drunk driving conviction?
A: Although your rates will likely be higher, your insurer may keep you on even after a conviction, and a subsequent clean driving record will result in lower rates in the future. If your insurer drops you as a result of the conviction, another insurance company may be willing to accept the risk; in fact, some companies specialize in offering insurance to drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving, but of course the rates are much higher.
Q: What is the punishment for drunk driving?
A: Drunk driving carries serious penalties. Although the court may go easier on first-time offenders, even in first-offense cases the possible sentences include stiff fines and jail time. If the circumstances warrant it, however, the court may choose less restrictive options, including probation, community service, or even mandated AA attendance or the like. For subsequent offenses, the likelihood of imprisonment increases, and in all cases, the loss of driving privileges-at least temporarily-is almost guaranteed.
Q: How can I get to work if I can't drive?
A: Many drunk driving offenders are forced to rely on public transportation or rides from friends and family to get to and from work during periods of license suspension or revocation. In addition, they may be able to obtain work permits that enable them to drive just to and from work; if caught driving outside of those parameters, however, further penalties will be imposed.
Q: What is the best way to beat a drunk driving charge?
A: The best way to avoid being convicted of drunk driving is to not drive drunk in the first place. Use a designated driver, call a taxi, call a friend, or just don't drink alcohol if you are going to need to drive within a few hours. For some people, in some circumstances, even one drink can impair their driving abilities, and after having a few drinks is not the time to decide whether you're capable of driving (since you will most likely believe that you are even when your are not).
Q: If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?
A: Even if you are guilty of drunk driving, it is imperative that you seek the advice of experienced counsel so that you can minimize your sentence and maximize your opportunities to move ahead toward a brighter future. Criminal defense attorneys are needed to equalize the balance of power between the defendant and the prosecution and to ensure that the constitutional rights that are guaranteed to all criminal defendants, whether guilty or not, are preserved.
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