Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal in every state in the U.S. While many people drive after drinking and never get caught, the reality is that most eventually run into trouble with the law at some point in their lives. The following is an overview of how driving under the influence can affect your life and what happens if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test when stopped by police. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, it may be helpful to speak with a criminal defense attorney for advice.
Most drivers know not to drive when drunk. However, many drivers drive after having just a few drinks, not realizing that they may be over the legal limit of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content. If you are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, the following things may occur:
The Officer Will Ask For Your Drivers License, Registration And
He Will Ask You If You Have Been Drinking
He Will Ask You To Step Out Of Your Car
He Will Ask You To Perform Sobriety Tests
He May Read You Your Rights
He Will Ask You To Perform A Breathalyzer Test
If You Are Over The Legal Limit He Will Place You Under Arrest
Your Care Will Be Impounded
You Will Be Taken Into Custody
What Is Implied Consent?
If you have a drivers license, you are consenting to willingly participate in any field sobriety test during a traffic stop. This is known as implied consent and places harsh penalties on drivers who refuse to submit to testing.
What Happens If You Refuse?
You can refuse to submit to the breathalyzer test or any other type of sobriety testing. However, it will almost certainly mean the automatic suspension of your drivers license and most likely a trip to jail depending on the laws in your state. On the upside, refusing to submit to testing does not give prosecutors a blood alcohol content and that may leave your lawyer room to get the charges reduced or dropped because the case is more difficult to prove.
No matter whether you decide to submit to sobriety testing or not, you should take care to avoid making any admissions of guilt that can be used later on in court. Even something that seems benign could come back to haunt you later.
What Can A Lawyer Do For You?
If you are facing drunken driving charges, it is usually to hire a lawyer to represent you in court. A lawyer may be able to get charges reduced or dropped. If not, it may be possible to limit the damage to your driving record by obtaining legal counsel. If the following circumstances occurred in your case, your lawyer may be able to argue the validity of your case:
The Test Administered Was A Urine Test
You Have Witnesses To Testify You Did Not Have Much To Drink Prior To Being Stopped
You Were Not In Control Of The Car When You Were Stopped
A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you negotiate a plea bargain in your DUI case. In some cases, prosecutors are willing to drop the charges to reckless driving if you blew a 0.09 percent and no one was injured in an accident due to your driving under the influence. Certain states have wet reckless laws that makes negotiating plea bargains in DUI cases easier. In most states, a wet reckless charges does not require the suspension of your driving privileges even if you hold a commercial drivers license also known as a CDL.
Contact a criminal defense lawyer today if you are facing driving under the influence charges to discuss the options you have available to you under the law. While it is possible to enter your own plea, hiring a lawyer to protect your interests may be the way to minimize the damage to your driving record.
What if this is not my “first” DWI arrest?
This articles by Nima Haddadi, a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. The penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) vary depending on the circumstances of your arrest and your state, but in every state, penalties are much more severe if you already have prior DWI arrests on your record.
While every state classifies a driver’s first DWI as a misdemeanor, it could classify subsequent DWI offenses as felonies. There may be a jail sentence, and if your offense was particularly severe or you have multiple prior DWIs, that sentence could be several years in length. The length of time that the state suspends your driver’s license is significantly longer after your first offense. For example, a state that suspends a driver’s license for 90 days or 6 months on their first DWI offense may suspend it for 1 year on a second offense and 3 years on a third. Driver’s license revocation is also a possibility.
Fines increase with each subsequent DWI. The state may put you on probation for several years and require that you attend DUI classes. It’s also likely that the state will require you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car before you can drive again.
An ignition interlock device is an in-car breathalyzer that requires you to provide a breath sample before you’re able to start your car. If your breath sample has a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the limit that’s programmed into the device, then your car will not start. The programmed limit is usually a BAC of .02. These devices also have rolling retests, which are required retests while you’re driving to ensure that you don’t drink after starting your car or have someone else provide a breath sample for you. If you fail to provide a breath sample or your breath sample is at or above the programmed limit, the device will cause your horn to honk and your lights to flash until you pull over and shut your car off.
If you are being charged with a DWI and you already have one or more on your record, it’s imperative that you hire a skilled defense attorney. Each state takes repeat DWI offenders very seriously and has severe punishments in place. Without a strong defense, you could end up with large fines or jail time.
A defense attorney can examine the prosecution’s case to see if there are any weaknesses, such as a lack of probable cause to pull you over, or any issues with the testing method used to obtain your BAC. DWI cases are complex, and there may be issues with the evidence against you, but it requires an intricate knowledge of arrest and testing procedures to find those issues. That’s why you need a DWI defense attorney who has handled these types of cases before. While it’s rare for DWI charges to get dismissed, your attorney may be able to secure you a plea deal for a lesser charge if the prosecution isn’t completely confident in the evidence they have against you.
Keep in mind that there are no guarantees when it comes to DWI cases. No attorney can promise that they’ll get your charges reduced, and if they do then they’re lying to you. However, a defense attorney gives you the chance at minimizing the damage that a DWI causes to your life. They may be able to work out a deal where you complete a DUI education program instead of serving jail time, or install an ignition interlock device on your car instead of having your license suspended. A defense attorney can make the difference between spending a year in jail or being put on probation. You should hire an attorney any time that you’re charged with a DWI, but it’s even more critical when you already have one or more previous DWI charges on your record.
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