If you are impaired on either drugs or alcohol, you could be charged with a DWI. If convicted, you could face time in jail or prison, a fine and a loss of driving privileges. A DWI conviction could also make it harder to find a job or get into school. With so much on the line, it is important that you work with an attorney in an effort to get the charge reduced or dismissed.
What the Law Says About DWI
All states make driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of higher than .08 percent illegal. This is typically considered a “per se” law, which means that a reading of .08 or higher is justification enough to charge you with a DWI. However, it is important to note that you could be charged if you show other signs of intoxication such as slurred speech or difficulty standing.
If you are under the age of 21, your legal limit is .02 percent or lower. This is true in all 50 states, and the law is designed to protect younger drivers who may be more vulnerable to the effects of drugs and alcohol. Commercial drivers could receive a drunk driving charge if they have a BAC of .05 or higher. Under implied consent laws, refusing to submit to a breath test could carry penalties such as a drivers license suspension and a fine.
What Are the Penalties for Driving While Intoxicated?
Typically, a drunk driving charge is a misdemeanor. However, such a charge could be considered a felony if you have previous convictions for DWI. This could also be true if there are other aggravating factors such as causing an accident while drunk. States such as Arizona have additional penalties for those who are caught driving with a BAC of .15 percent or higher.
Felony drunk driving convictions could result in significant fines as well as jail sentences of up to a year. If you injure or kill someone while drunk or impaired on drugs, you could be sent to prison for multiple years. This is in addition to any fines, legal fees and court costs that you will be required to pay.
It is also possible for a judge to sentence you to community service, probation or a suspended sentence. With a suspended sentence, there is no need to serve jail time assuming that you don’t get in trouble again. Furthermore, you may be required to seek treatment for alcohol abuse or meet other conditions to stay out of jail.
What Can An Attorney Do to Help?
Your attorney will be able to go over the evidence used to charge you with drunk driving. This evidence may include the results of a blood, breath or urine test. It may also include police or witness testimony. However, an attorney may be able to successfully claim that the tests were not properly conducted or that a witness is not being accurate in his or her testimony. That could be enough to either have the evidence suppressed or be enough to convince a jury to acquit you.
Those who have been charged with a DWI may face significant consequences if they are convicted of the crime. Your attorney may be able to help ensure that you are respected by the authorities at all times and that the your rights are preserved throughout the legal process. Ultimately, that could result in a case being dismissed or penalties being reduced by a judge at sentencing.