Every state has laws that penalize driving under the influence. However, there is a clear difference between arrests and convictions. It is a common misperception that getting charged with DUI equates to being found guilty. Being charged with a DUI only means you have been pulled over on the suspicion that you are intoxicated.
If you have been accused of driving while intoxicated, you could face substantial repercussions that could have a detrimental influence on your life. This is especially as DUI convictions go on public record.
However, you can contest the charges against you, and with the assistance of a skilled DUI defense attorney, you might be able to beat the case and avert a DUI conviction.
Conditions Under Which DUI Arrests are Made
Claims of Impairment
State laws permit arresting individuals who are found operating a vehicle when intoxicated by alcohol, on drugs, or other substances.
However, the definition of impairment in DUI statutes varies. In certain states, a motorist is deemed intoxicated if they are even slightly impacted by alcohol or drugs. However, in some areas, a person cannot be charged with DUI unless the alcohol or drugs they have ingested have a significant impact on their demeanor, especially physically.
DUI regulations typically apply regardless of whether the driver was impaired by alcohol or another substance. So, driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two might result in a DUI charge. People do not often realize this, but an arrest can be made whether or not the substance used is legal, or even prescribed. As long as the police believes that the driver has ingested a substance that impairs, an arrest can be made.
“Per Se” DUI Laws
Every state in the country has laws against DUIs that make it illegal to drive or operate machinery if a person’s blood alcohol concentration is greater than 0.08%. The only exception to this is in Utah where the standard limit is 0.05%.
The issue with this is that the factors for determining these limits differ for individuals. People absorb alcohol differently and factors like weight, time of day, and gender come into play.
Penalties for DUI Convictions
The circumstances around a DUI conviction determines if it is considered a felony or misdemeanor. This would mean that the resulting penalties also differ by the situation. Certain states also have higher penalties for DUI convictions. In any case, the penalties for DUI convictions are usually one or more of the following:
- Jail time
If you are convicted of a DUI, you may be penalized with jail time. Misdemeanor convictions warrant less than a year in county jail, whereas felony DUI convictions can result in a year or more in state prison.
DUI convictions may lead to financial penalties alongside jail time. Fines can cost as little as a few hundred dollars for first-time misdemeanor offenses to as much as $10,000 or more for felonies.
- Suspended Licenses
Even if you have been arrested and not yet convicted, your license may be seized for over three months. You can apply for a special restricted license to drive to necessary places, like work or school.
The court may penalize you with probation lasting a year or more. The conditions of your release will be that you consent to several court-imposed requirements while on probation. Failing to uphold these requirements will lead to further sanctions. These requirements may include random drug and alcohol tests, meetings with your probation officer, or going through a substance abuse program.
If you have been charged with a DUI, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a local criminal defense attorney. You have better chances of beating the charges if your attorney is familiar with the state, prosecutors and processes.
The criminal defense attorneys at Lamb, Carroll, Papp and Cunabaugh are skilled in handling DUI cases in the Crystal Lake and Harvard areas. Contact us for the best possible outcomes for your DUI case.