The Legal Insider

June 2011

5 Summer DUI/DWI Basics

DUI/DWI numbers are decreasing, but it’s still a very common occurrence that nabs the occasional drinker as well as multiple offenders. A DUI/DWI can have surprisingly averse affects on all aspects of your life: financial, professional, and personal included.

One thing that everyone says after getting one: “They’re a huge _______(pick your word) hassle.” That’s why most people opt to hire a DUI/DWI lawyer who is familiar with the ins and outs of your local law.

If you’re just getting started, here are 5 things you should absolutely know:

  1. Sentences can include: large fines, license suspension/restriction, DUI/DWI education courses, probation, jail/prison time, community service, impounding of your vehicle, ignition interlock devices (blow before you go) and any mix or variation of the above.

  2. First, offenses normally get more lenient sentences. However, it depends on the jurisdiction (where you were arrested), judge and partially on proving you’re a good upstanding citizen. They want to know it’s not going to happen again.

  3. Heavier sentences are often given to those who violate the law in other ways at the same time like speeding, refusing a chemical test, being under 21 years of age, or damaging anyone or anything while driving under the influence. In some cases, a blood alcohol level over 0.2% will also increase the severity of sentencing.

  4. Blood tests are somewhat reliable but not if they’re done poorly. Every state has an “implied consent” law that requires you to submit for testing if you’re arrested on suspected a DUI/DWI charge. Refusing it could mean your license is immediately suspended or you may be cited with uncooperative behavior.

  5. Get a lawyer. It seems simple but it could make the difference between conviction and acquittal. They know how to handle DUI/DWI cases and how best to approach your circumstances—it’s their job.


What Happens If You Don’t Show Up to Court?

In a lot of life's situations, simply “not showing up” may work. I’ve seen people quit jobs that way, drop classes, and even break up from their girlfriends by simply not being there.

One place it will definitely come back to haunt you is choosing to not show up in court. So, if you’re planning on ditching your next court date for that barbeque or concert, think again!

Failure to appear” is a misdemeanor and may result from: failing to appear to pay a fine after a case has concluded, skipping days during an ongoing case, and failing to appear for sentencing after a trial.

Violating the list above means you could face some serious consequences like having a bench warrant issued, license suspended, pay fines, or held in jail. Most of the consequences depend on the circumstances of your issue and past record. So, consulting with a lawyer is wise. A lawyer will be able to help you explain what kept you from appearing and recommend the best course of action for any other legal problems.


How to Host A (Legal) Blowout Party

There are a number of legal pitfalls to throwing a really crazy party. Mainly, lawsuits and liability are your greatest enemies. Below is a list of common legal headaches and what you can do to avoid them:

Supplying Alcohol to Minors—The best way to wash your hands of liability is to hire a bartending/catering company who is furnished with their own liquor license and workers.

Over-Serving Your Guests—A host may be liable if a guest gets into a car accident or damages property after drinking too much. This is another reason to hire a catering company or better yet, have a shuttle service provided. Assuming you wouldn’t want all of them staying over.

Disturbing the Peace—Have consideration for your neighbors: invite them! Give everyone a month's notice of your event and provide them some kind of peace offering like a dinner gift certificate or bottle of wine.

Slip and Fall—Spilled drinks can render an injury, so clean up messes when they happen. It’s also important to look around your house for other possible sources of injury like broken floorboards, exposed electrical, and loose handrails and repair them prior to the event.

Theft—Move your valuables or breakables into a room that can be locked. Be sure to hide anything like jewelry, cash, and other documents that can be used to steal your identity.


Things Heating Up (In a Bad Way) Between You and Your Spouse?

Whether you’re legally separated, estranged, or planning on getting a divorce, there are countless things you can do to prepare for the legal severing of ties. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how bizarre things can get. Funny in retrospect maybe, but twisted nonetheless.

Below are a few things your lawyer may not mention, but you will likely want to keep in mind during an acrimonious split:

  • If you have children, give them a voice and a lot of attention.
  • Ask your attorney questions about your case to keep involved.
  • Be completely honest when disclosing your assets and property or you may lose it.
  • Communicate as little as possible with your soon-to-be ex during the process.
  • Try to be the “bigger person” and cooperate.

In any event, speak with a family lawyer who can give you a better idea of what you’ll face and how you can prepare. They’re paid to know this stuff after all!

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