What Constitutes a DUI Accident?
A DUI accident is any accident caused by a driver under the influence while driving a motorized vehicle. A driver is under the influence if he is voluntarily intoxicated by consuming alcohol or drugs.
While most people associate DUI accidents with automobiles, a DUI accident can be caused by a drunk driver operating a different motorized vehicle than an automobile, such as a tractor or a motorcycle.
Statistics for the Causes of DUI Accidents
Statistics related to the causes of DUI accidents include the following:
- 94% of drivers involved in fatal DUI accidents had never been convicted of a DUI offense before.
- More than 1.4 million individuals are arrested for a DUI yearly.
- On average, there are 112 million self-reported driving incidents while intoxicated each year.
Statistics for the Harm Related to DUI Accidents
DUI accidents are well-reported, so there are many statistics related to the harm caused by DUI accidents that are readily available:
- DUI accident fatalities account for nearly one-third of all traffic-related fatalities.
18% of DUI accident-related deaths involve drugs, while the other 88% involve only alcohol.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person is injured in a DUI accident nearly every 90 seconds.
- Drunk driving contributes to more than 47% of all pedestrian accidents.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving or Driving While Intoxicated?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the most commonly used metric in determining the level of alcohol concentration in a person’s body. All 50 states, except Arizona, have set the legal limit for adults over 21 at a BAC level of .08%. In Arizona, you can be charged and convicted of driving under the influence with any level of alcohol in your body if you are “impaired to the slightest degree.” A.R.S. 28- 1381 (A) (1).
Experienced criminal defense lawyers are well-equipped to oppose DWI charges while defending the rights of their clients. If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense, do not delay contacting a lawyer. You will be dealing with the court and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Your attorney can represent you in both instances while guiding the entire process.
What Is the Difference Between DWI and DUI?
The terms “Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)” and “Driving Under the Influence (DUI)” are often used interchangeably. However, some states categorize DWI and DUI separately, with the former usually being a more severe charge.
DUI can also mean a person was driving under the influence of drugs, which is also taken very seriously.
Other states use other terms about drunk driving, such as:
- Operating under the influence (OUI).
- Operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI).
- Driving while ability impaired (DWAI).
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII).
- Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII).
What Are “Per Se” DWI/DUI Laws?
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) “per se” laws typically establish that if a person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent, that person will be deemed legally intoxicated. If you drive with a BAC of .08 percent and higher, you can be convicted of DWI/DUI. There is a zero-tolerance policy for minors under 21, which makes driving with any level of alcohol in their bloodstream illegal.
People who drive commercial vehicles are upheld to a higher legal standard than other drivers and can be charged with a criminal offense if their BAC is .04 percent or higher. This standard also applies to people who drive for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.
Can a Person Be Arrested for a DWI if Their BAC Is Lower Than the Per Se Intoxication Limit?
Without proof of per se intoxication, it is still possible that a person may be charged with DWI. Even if a person’s BAC is lower than .08 percent, a DWI conviction could transpire if they were driving while impaired. The arresting officer must be able to furnish the court with proof of the person’s impairment, such as visible weaving, slurred speech, and failing field sobriety tests.
In cases involving an arrest for a charge of DWI/DUI with a BAC under the standard legal threshold, the defendant must contact a criminal defense attorney.
DWI convictions are expensive and can impact a person’s life in many ways, such as increased insurance premiums and even career and education opportunities.
What Is a DWI/DUI Plea Bargain?
In some circumstances, the prosecution and defense can make a deal known as a plea bargain, in which the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offense. Plea bargains are a way to bypass the costs of going to trial in exchange for the defendant being convicted of a lesser offense.
For instance, a defendant may be able to plead guilty to a “wet reckless” and agree to complete an alcohol diversion program, pay fines, or do community service.
Experienced DWI lawyers can negotiate with the prosecution and often obtain a reasonable outcome for their clients. If a person’s BAC is near the legal limit, getting a reduced charge can be crucial for avoiding the implications that come with a DWI conviction.
What Factors Are Taken Into Consideration in Issuing Penalties for DWI/DUI Intoxication?
States vary in determining the penalties for a DWI/DUI conviction. Penalties such as license suspension or revocation, steep fines, jail or prison time, home confinement, an ignition interlock device, and community service are common.
In deciding on a defendant’s penalties, the court will usually take into consideration the following:
- Prior conviction history
- Whether death or injury transpired as a result of the DWI charge
- Whether any property damage happened
- Whether the driver was driving a commercial vehicle
- If the driver was age 21 or over at the time of the arrest
- Whether or not a minor was in the car at the time of the arrest
What Happens to My License if I Am Convicted of Drunk Driving?
Depending on the regulation in each state, a drunk driver’s license can be suspended or revoked for a DWI/DUI conviction. If a license is revoked, there is no promise that a driver will have his license reinstated at the end of the revocation period. The length of time that the license is suspended or revoked following a DUI conviction varies from state to state.
Are There Other Possible Penalties?
Yes. Administrative License Revocation or Suspension (ALR/ALS) regulations passed in most states allow an arresting officer to seize the license of drivers who fail or refuse to take a breath test.
Under these laws, the license is automatically revoked or suspended before the driver is convicted of drunk driving. This administrative penalty is entirely separate from any criminal penalties the driver may face.
Can an Attorney Help Me with My DUI Accident?
If you have been a victim of a DUI accident, a personal injury attorney can help you assert your right to damages for any injuries you may have suffered.
Suppose you have been charged with driving under the influence as part of being involved in a DUI accident. In that case, a DUI/DWI lawyer specializing in DUI can assist you in defending yourself against the charges.