Alcohol-Related Crimes

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 What Are Alcohol-Related Crimes?

An alcohol-related crime is a crime one of the major factors of the case involves:

  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages;
  • The sale of alcoholic beverages; or
  • The distribution of alcoholic beverages.

There are numerous alcohol related crimes, which may include:

The consumption of alcohol can be a factor in many other types of crimes as well, including:

  • Assault;
  • Battery;
  • Recklessness; or
  • Various types of negligence.

One of the most well-known alcohol related crimes is driving under the influence of alcohol, called DUI or DWI, depending on the state. Although state laws vary regarding DUI laws, they are usually treated quite strictly.

DUI may be known by other names, including:

  • DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated;
  • OUI, or Operating Under the Influence; or
  • OMVI, or Operating a Motor Vehicle Intoxicated.

It is important to note that DUI can include substances other than alcohol which impair an individual’s motor skills. Examples of substances which may impair motor skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Illicit or illegal drugs;
  • Cannabis;
  • Prescription medication, such as muscle relaxers; and
  • Over the counter medication, including antihistamines, like benadryl.

Certain states may also include other types of vehicles in their DUI states, including:

  • Bicycles;
  • Boats;
  • Mopeds; and
  • Golf carts.

Driving under the influence is a very serious offense which may lead to major consequences. Depending on the laws of the state, an individual is considered to be legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or 0.10%.

If an individual chooses to operate a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or taking drugs which impair their senses, they may face consequences such as:

In many cases, an individual who has been charged with drunk driving for the first time typically only results in a misdemeanor charge. It is important to note, however, that an individual may be charged with a felony if they injure another individual or cause damage to property.

A defendant may also face felony charges if they have multiple drunk driving offenses. In addition, although the majority of states will charge a drunk driver with DUI, each state has their own criteria for drunk driving offenses, as well as different potential charges which may apply.

It is important to be aware that drunk driving is not merely a traffic citation, it is considered a criminal offense. Because of this, if an individual is convicted of drunk driving, the conviction will appear on their criminal record.

If a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor, they may face both jail time in a county jail facility as well as criminal fines. Jail sentences typically do not exceed one year.

The criminal fine is usually capped at $1,000. That amount, however, may vary by state.

The consequences for the misdemeanor conviction may also depend upon the offense which was committed. For example, the punishment for a drunk driving conviction may involve mandatory DUI classes, or traffic school, and other available measures. These may be imposed in addition to the jail sentence and fines.

If a defendant is convicted of a felony, they may face prison time over a year as well as criminal fines. The defendant may also be required to pay restitution, which means the defendant pays the victim to compensate them for losses incurred as a result of the felony.

In the majority of states, if a defendant is convicted of a felony, they may lose rights as well as face life-long consequences. A felon forfeits the right to vote.

In addition, most states have laws that prohibit released felons from engaging in activity which is otherwise lawful. This may include terminating professional licenses, such as law or medical licenses, as well as permits, such as firearm permits.

What is a Felony DUI?

Felony DUI is a criminal charge which may be found in states which have expanded their DUI laws. A felony DUI conviction typically results in 5 to 10 years in a federal or state prison facility and increased criminal fines.

Although state laws may differ, there are certain actions which may be classified as felony drunk driving in most states, including:

  • Drunk driving which results in the death or severe injury of another individual, including another person or a passenger;
  • Vehicular manslaughter, which is the unintentional killing of another individual with a vehicle;
  • Assault with a deadly weapon, as a vehicle may be considered a deadly weapon;
  • Repeat offenses. For example, a third DUI offense is generally considered to be a felony;
  • Driving with a restricted, revoked, or suspended driver’s license;
  • Driving with an extremely elevated blood alcohol concentration level; and
  • Having children in the vehicle while driving drunk.

One of the most common types of felony DUI charges is a repeated DUI offense. An individual may be convicted of felony drunk driving because they have been convicted of two prior DUIs.

What Are the Punishments for Alcohol-Related Crimes?

The punishment for an alcohol-related crime will depend on the type of crime which was committed. For less serious crimes, including public intoxication, the punishment may include a citation and a small criminal fine.

For a more serious crime, such as a DUI which results in serious bodily harm to another individual, misdemeanor or even felony charges may result. This may result in punishments including:

  • Jail or prison time;
  • Criminal fines; and
  • A loss of privileges for a period of time.

If an individual is convicted of repeat offenses for the same alcohol-related crime, they may face harsher penalties. For example, repeat DUIs may result in dramatically higher fines as well as longer sentences than first-time DUI offenses.

Are There Any Alternative Remedies Available for Alcohol Offenses?

In some cases, an alcohol related crime may not result in jail time. For example, a crime which involves the sale of alcohol often results in the suspension or loss of alcohol selling permits.

This may, in some cases, only be temporary, depending upon the local laws and nature of the crime. With some other crimes, including first-time DUI offenses, a defendant may be permitted to take remedial courses, such as substance abuse classes in exchange for lesser fines or lesser jail time.

The defendant typically has to qualify for these alternatives. This is because they are typically only available for first-time offenders.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Alcohol-Related Crime Laws?

It is essential to have the assistance of a DUI/DWI lawyer for any alcohol-related crime issues you may be facing. An alcohol crime may often lead to serious legal consequences. Even a minor offense may result in criminal consequences, depending upon the defendant’s record and the surrounding circumstances.

Your lawyer can advise you regarding the laws of your state and how they apply to the charges you are facing. If you are required to appear in court, your lawyer will represent you.


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