The term DUI refers to operating a motor vehicle while one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit set by law. In all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08% or higher if you’re over the age of 21. For those under the age of 21, any amount of alcohol can result in a DUI due to “zero tolerance” laws.
What Is A DUI Offense?
A DUI offense typically involves driving a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher. However, a person can also be charged with a DUI if they’re under the influence of any controlled substance, such as illegal drugs or prescription medications, that impair their ability to drive safely. We have also provided an in-depth article on detailing “What Is a DUI?“
Is A DUI A Felony or A Misdemeanor?
This is one of the most common questions asked of DUI attorneys. Driving under the influence charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. There are several things that can cause a DUI to be considered a felony, as we explore in our articles “Is a DUI a Felony?” and “Is a DUI a Misdemeanor?“
Are DUI Laws Different Between States?
While the .08% BAC limit is standard across the U.S., the enforcement and penalties for DUI offenses can vary significantly from state to state. For example, some states have mandatory jail time for first-time offenders, while others may only impose fines and probation. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific laws in your state.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI Offense?
The penalties for a DUI offense can range widely based on the jurisdiction, the driver’s BAC level at the time of arrest, and whether it’s a first-time or subsequent offense. Penalties can include fines, jail time, community service, probation, mandatory alcohol education programs, installation of an ignition interlock device, and license suspension or revocation.
How does a DUI arrest affect my driving record?
A DUI conviction will certainly affect your driving record. In most states, a DUI stays on your driving record for a specified period, often between five and ten years, but in some states, a DUI can remain on your record permanently. This can affect your insurance premiums and even employment opportunities.
Can a DUI charge be fought in court?
Yes, a DUI charge can be contested in court. Many factors can be examined, such as the accuracy of the BAC testing equipment, the legality of the traffic stop, and the procedures followed during the arrest. If you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s recommended to consult with an experienced DUI attorney to explore your options. View our DUI lawyer directory to find the top DUI defense attorneys in your state.
What is an ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock device is a breath alcohol content analyzer for an individual’s vehicle. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. If the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the device prevents the engine from being started.
Should I Hire a DUI Lawyer? How Can I Beat the DUI? What Are the Best Defenses in a Drunk Driving Case?
To begin, only fight a DWI-DUI case if you have a skilled, experienced, and successful DUI attorney in your corner. Like seeking a surgeon, you do not want anyone but the best for addressing a life-threatening medical issue. Similarly, an inexperienced or inept trial attorney can torpedo your DUI defense, if all the right motions, objections, and discovering requests are not utilized. Your DWI-DUI attorney should know the DUI expert witness that you will be employing in your DUI trial case. To find the top DUI lawyers near you, view our national DUI lawyer directory.
Can My DUI Arrest be Expunged? Can a DUI Conviction be Erased?
The process for removal of a first-offense DUI-DWI from your criminal history is controlled 100% by your State’s DUI laws. Some states allow for “record restriction” of a DUI arrest record when you are acquitted of DUI, while others only permit the criminal record to be cleared when the case is dismissed or evidence of the arrest is suppressed on constitutional violations. In the past decade, certain states (e.g., Mississippi, New Jersey) have passed new DUI expungement or DWI expunction laws.
Be aware that every arrest in the USA, whether for drunk driving or any other traffic violation or criminal charge, creates a federal tracking record at the FBI. This happens every time a mugshot and fingerprints are processed in any State. So, while a DUI arrest or DUI conviction MAY be removed or erased from State records, the impact on federal records at the NCIC is zero, in almost all instances. This is particularly true where a conviction occurred and no deferral or withholding of disposition was used by your State’s DUI first-offender laws.
Understanding the intricacies of DUI laws and their enforcement can help you make informed decisions and avoid the severe consequences associated with these offenses. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, it’s essential to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the legal process. This article is part of a series that delves into specific topics related to DUI laws in the U.S. Stay tuned for more detailed information and answers to your questions about DUI laws across the country.
To learn more about DUIs across different states and see some of the most frequently answered questions about DUIs answered by one of the top DUI lawyers in the country, browse all of our DUI FAQ articles below: