A DUI, or driving under the influence, is oftentimes referred to smply as drunk driving and occurs when someone who is operating a motor vehicle of any kind has a blood alcohol content that sits above the legal limit. This limit, as well as the penalties attributed to a DUI charge, varies by state. Most states have set the blood alcohol content limit to .08 while a few states have the limit at .10. These statutes are designed to represent what each state believes is the level at which drivers won’t be able to operate their vehicles safely.
What is a DUI?
It’s also important to understand that you don’t actually need to be driving on the road when under the influence for you to be charged with a DUI. In some states, you could actually be charged with a DUI if you’re in a parked vehicle with the keys in your hand. This is due to the fact that it would be believed that you’re about to drive while drunk. While this charge is somewhat easier to defend in court than other versions of a DUI, you will still require the services of a DUI lawyer. Any time that it can be assumed that you’re in control of a vehicle, you could be charged with a DUI in most states. In a few states, a DUI can only be levied against someone in the event that they are driving the vehicle.
The reason that the blood alcohol content limit is typically set anywhere from .08 to .10 percent is due to the fact that reports have shown that anything from .08 to .25 percent causes such symptoms as balance issues, lethargy, blurred vision, and sedation. This can quickly lead to very reckless driving, endangering yourself and others. The extent of your punishment depends on several different factors, including how high your blood alcohol content level was and whether or not you’re a repeat offender. In certain cases, it’s possible that you will be charged with a felony DUI, which is the most severe type of punishment that can be levied for driving while intoxicated.
Is a DUI A Criminal Offense?
If you’re wondering “Is a DUI a criminal offense?”, the answer is mostly yes, with the resulting charge ranging from mild to severe. There’s a possibility that driving under the influence will net you a misdemeanor charge, although the primary charge for such a crime is typically a felony DUI. There are times when a DUI conviction will merely lead to administrative punishment, such as having your license suspended, but this is typically reserved for people who were arrested in a vehicle that wasn’t moving at the time. If you’ve ever been arrested for a DUI or a suspected DUI, the first thing you’re going to want to do is contact a DUI lawyer, which is similar to that of a criminal lawyer. They will assist you in making sure that you have your story straight and will attempt to obtain as small of a charge as possible.
Unlike a criminal charge, an administrative one can be administered from the very moment you fail your sobriety test. Some states will take your license away even in the event that you’ve complied with the police entirely. It’s also important to understand that the crimes you can be charged with differ on what type of vehicle you drive. In most instances, the penalties a commercial vehicle driver face are much stiffer.
Penalties Associated With a DUI Charge
Since the penalties associated with a DUI charge can differ wildly depending on which state you live in or the state you’ve been arrested in, it’s better to look at one state as an adequate representation for the others. Let’s take North Carolina as an example. The blood alcohol concentration limit is set to .08 percent for drivers 21 years or older, .04 for commercial drivers, and .04 for anyone who’s been charged with a prior DUI. Those who are younger than 21 can be charged with a DUI if any amount of alcohol is found in their system. The penalties associated with such a charge can include everything from fines and jail time to license suspension or revocation. You would also likely be administered with higher rates when purchasing car insurance in the future.
In the event that you’re charged with a DUI in North Carolina but not yet convicted, you’ll face a number of potential administrative penalties. If you fail the chemical test you’ve been provided with, you’ll face a suspension of your license, including one year for your first offense, four years for your second offense, and a permanent revocation for your third offense. These suspensions occur before you’ve even been convicted of the charge, so make sure you don’t drive when you’ve been drinking.
In NC, there are six levels for a criminal offense, starting from level 5 to aggravated level 1. Each of these charges come with an immediate license suspension of 30 days, with the possibility of obtaining limited driving privileges once 10 days have passed. Each charge also carries with it the requirement to attend a substance abuse assessment if placed on probation. If convicted of a level 5 offense, you’ll be levied with a fine of up to $200 and anywhere from 24 hours to 60 days in jail.
A level 4 offense comes with a fine of up to $500 and between two days and 120 days in jail. A level 3 offense includes a fine of up to $1,000 and between 3 days and six months in jail. A level 2 offense carries with it a fine of up to $2,000 and anywhere from 7 days to 12 months in jail. For a level 1 charge, a fine of up to $4,000 could be levied against you, as can anywhere from 30 days to two years in jail. Lastly, an aggravated level 1 offense comes with a fine of up to $10,000 and between 1 year and 3 years in jail. If you want to receive the best possible sentence for your DUI, you’re going to want to retain the services of a DUI lawyer or criminal lawyer.
How a Lawyer Can Help
In the event that you’ve failed a breathalyzer test and have been charged with a DUI, it’s important that you hire a DUI lawyer or criminal lawyer immediately. A DUI lawyer, in particular, solely works on cases like yours and has the experience necessary to get you the best result possible. Since the penalties attributed to a DUI charge vary wildly, you’ll usually require the services of a DUI lawyer if you wish to be charged with a lesser offense, such as a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony DUI.
Hiring an experienced criminal lawyer comes with a wide range of benefits. For instance, they have familiarity with the court system and understand all there is to know about plea bargains and when to make one. A DUI lawyer is especially important for drivers who have been pulled over for their second offense. A second offense typically comes with very strict and severe penalties that usually result in a felony charge and lengthy jail time.
With a DUI lawyer present, sentence bargaining may be able to get your sentence lessened to a much more favorable outcome. You might also be recommended by one of these lawyers to actually plead guilty, as doing so could allow you to obtain a lesser sentence. These are just some of the many reasons why it’s so important to have a lawyer represent your case once it’s time to go to trial.
If you’ve recently been arrested and charged with a DUI, contact a DUI attorney today so that you can have peace of mind that your case is well represented.