Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a criminal offense that is taken seriously by law enforcement in all 50 states. While the laws and consequences for a DUI conviction vary from state to state, the charge is essentially the same: operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We will examine the different types of DUI charges in the United States and the different aspects of DUI legal defense that may be used in each state.
Is A DUI The Same in Every State?
First and foremost, it is essential to note that the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers in the United States is .08%. However, in some states, it is possible to be charged with a DUI even if your BAC is lower than .08% if you are demonstrating signs of impaired driving. Additionally, some states have different BAC limits for commercial drivers, underage drivers, and repeat offenders.
Different Types of DUI Charges
The most common type of DUI charge is a standard DUI. This is the typical charge that is brought against a driver who has been stopped and found to have a BAC above the legal limit or who is demonstrating signs of impaired driving. The consequences of a standard DUI conviction vary from state to state but typically include fines, jail time, and a license suspension. Some states also require that convicted drivers install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, which requires them to blow into a breathalyzer before starting the car.
Another type of DUI charge is an aggravated DUI. This charge is typically brought against a driver who has caused injury or death to another person while driving under the influence. The consequences of an aggravated DUI generally are more severe than a standard DUI and may include longer jail sentences, higher fines, and longer license suspensions.
In addition to standard and aggravated DUIs, some states have additional types of DUI charges that are specific to their state laws. For example, some states have “wet reckless” charges, which are similar to standard DUIs but typically carry less severe consequences. Other states have “DUI per se” charges, based solely on the driver’s BAC and do not require any proof of impairment.
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DUI Defense Options
When it comes to DUI legal defense, the options available to a defendant will vary depending on the state in which the charge was brought. However, there are some common defenses that are used in DUI cases across the United States. For example, a defense attorney may argue that the police officer who made the arrest did not have probable cause to stop the driver or did not follow proper procedure during the arrest. Additionally, a defense attorney may argue that the results of a BAC test were inaccurate or that the driver was not actually under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the arrest.
Another common defense in DUI cases is known as the “rising blood alcohol” defense. This defense argues that the driver’s BAC was still rising at the time of the arrest and that it was not yet above the legal limit when the driver was actually driving. This defense is based on the fact that it takes time for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream and that a BAC test is taken immediately after a person stops drinking may not accurately reflect the person’s BAC at the time they were driving.
A defense attorney may also argue that the driver was not actually impaired at the time of the arrest, regardless of their BAC level. This defense may be based on evidence that the driver had a medical condition that caused their behavior, such as a low blood sugar level, or that they were taking medication that impaired their driving.
Do I Need A DUI Lawyer From My State?
Having a DUI lawyer is beneficial in several ways. A DUI lawyer is familiar with state laws and has experience in negotiating plea bargains, reducing charges, and obtaining lesser sentences. They can also challenge the evidence against a defendant and provide a strong defense in court. Furthermore, a DUI lawyer can guide a defendant through the legal process and protect their rights.
DUI charges carry severe consequences in all 50 states. Understanding the different types of charges and the varying aspects of legal defense can help you make informed decisions. Having a DUI lawyer knowledgeable about your local jurisdiction and courts is also essential in providing a strong defense, negotiating favorable outcomes, and protecting your legal rights.
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