Drunken driving laws regulate the manner in which a person can drive an automobile after consuming an alcoholic beverage. Depending on the state, these are also called Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
Criminal charges for drunken driving ensue when the police find a person’s blood alcohol level to be above a certain percentage. In most states, it is considered drunk driving if the person is driving while the blood alcohol concentration is above .08%. Many states have a "zero tolerance" law for minors, meaning that minors cannot have any alcohol in their system at all when driving.
What Are the Penalties for Drunken Driving Charges?
Drunken driving charges can lead to some serious penalties. In most cases, DUI charges will result in misdemeanor charges punishable by up to a year in a county jail. It may also require that the violator pay some fines as well. Also, drunken driving charges usually result in a loss or suspension of driving privileges (often for several months).
Drunken driving charges can also lead to felony penalties. Felonies are accompanied by higher fees and sentences in prison of greater than one year. These can be applied for DUI accidents that cause death or serious bodily injury to another party. Felony charges can sometimes result for repeated DUI charges.
In some cases, alternative sentencing options can be made available, especially for first-time DUI offenders. An example of this is a DUI diversion program, which allows the defendant to complete awareness or educational programs instead of serving jail time.
Are There Any Defenses for Drunken Driving?
One of the more common defenses is to challenge the results of the test that was used to determine blood alcohol levels. For instance, many counties use breathalyzer tests to determine BAC. If there is a problem with the breathalyzer equipment, it could lead to faulty alcohol level readings.
A defendant can also raise a drunk driving defense that he or she was not the person driving the vehicle. If a person is merely in a vehicle, and not driving, then he or she cannot be held liable for a drunk driving offense.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Drunken Driving Laws?
Drunken driving laws can vary from state to state, and they can sometimes result in very serious penalties. You may need to hire a qualified DUI or DWI lawyer if you need assistance with the drunken driving laws in your area. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice to determine whether there are any defenses for your claim, or if you can get a dropped or reduced sentence.