An Overview of Driving Under the Influence
Driving Under the Influence (“DUI” or, as it is known in some states, Driving While Intoxicated or “DWI”) is the criminal offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, to the extent that the drivers ability to operate a motor vehicle are impaired as a result. DUI’s can be committed through the use of alcohol and illegal drugs, or through the use of lawfully prescribed drugs, if those drugs impair the ability to drive. DUI is a crime that often leads to the arrest of otherwise successful and law-abiding citizens. First time DUI offenses are typically treated as misdemeanors in most states, but punishments can include probation, substantial fines, the loss of driving privileges for a period of time, community service, and often mandatory jail sentences.
The best defense against a DUI is to avoid being charged with the crime in the first place. If at all possible, do not operate a motor vehicle if you have recently consumed any alcoholic beverages (even if you do not believe you have consumed enough to affect your ability to drive). Police officers are often justified in conducting further investigations into your ability to drive based on the mere smell of alcohol on your person or in your vehicle, even if the odor results from consuming only one alcoholic beverage. Do not use any controlled substances that are not lawfully prescribed to you, and certainly do not operate a vehicle while under the influence of those substances. For any medicine you are prescribed by a doctor, make sure that you check any warnings provided regarding the effect of the drug on your ability to dive, and any side effects that could result from a combination of that drug with alcohol.
If you are arrested for DUI, the police are likely to use a combination of techniques in order to build a case. These include, but are not limited to, divided attention tasks known as “field sobriety tests”, breath tests, and tests of the blood or urine for the presence of alcohol. If arrested for DUI, you will likely be transported to the jail of the county where you were arrested, where you will be required to post a bond to ensure your appearance at future legal proceedings.
Because of the potential for substantial punishments involved, if you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, it is critical that you consult with an attorney in your area who is experienced in handling DUI cases. A good DUI attorney will be able to assist you in assessing the case and in evaluating your options in defending against the charge. Because complex rules govern the ability of police to conduct the previously discussed DUI tests, typically only an experienced attorney can accurately determine whether law enforcement followed proper procedures in your case. As a result, the attorney can assist you in ensuring that the charges against you are proven before you are punished for a crime.