Frequently Asked Questions about Drunk Driving/DUI
Q: What is "blood alcohol level"?
A: Blood alcohol level (BAC) is a term used to describe the level of alcohol in the bloodstream of a person arrested for drunk driving. It is used in court as evidence of that offense. The most common method of determining BAC is through a breath test, although blood and urine testing is done in some instances. If the level is found to be at or over .10, or .08 in some states, the test results can establish a presumption of impairment.
Q: Can I refuse a Breathalyzer?
A: Although the answer can vary by state, in many cases, a refusal is itself a criminal violation subject to stiff penalties. In addition, if the case against you is proven, there may be additional penalties for the refusal, above and beyond those for the drunk driving offense.
Q: Are breath test results always accurate?
A: Some courts allow the defendant in a drunk driving case to challenge the scientific accuracy of Breathalyzer tests in general, whereas others may allow challenges based on the particular circumstances of a test, such as improperly calibrated equipment or inadequately trained officers. If the test results are inadmissible or can be challenged, the case will have to be proven based on other evidence, such as eyewitness testimony and field-sobriety test results.
Q: What if I lose my license but continue to drive?
A: If a person whose license has been revoked or suspended due to drunk driving chooses to drive without a valid license and is pulled over, he or she stands to suffer more serious consequences, including fines and imprisonment. The more prudent course of action is to rely on friends and family for rides or use public transportation.
Q: How can I get automobile insurance after a drunk driving conviction?
A: Although your rates will likely be higher, your insurer may continue to insure you even after a conviction. A subsequent clean driving record will result in lower rates in the future. If your insurer drops you as a result of the conviction, another insurance company may be willing to accept the risk. In fact, some companies specialize in offering insurance to drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving, but the rates are much higher.
Q: What is the punishment for drunk driving?
A: Drunk driving carries serious penalties. Although the court may go easier on first-time offenders, even in first-offense cases the possible sentences include stiff fines and jail time. If the circumstances warrant it, however, the court may choose less restrictive options, including probation, community service, or alcohol awareness or abuse counseling.. For subsequent offenses, the likelihood of imprisonment increases, and in all cases, the loss of driving privileges-at least temporarily-is almost guaranteed.
Q: How can I get to work if I can't drive?
A: Many drunk driving offenders are forced to rely on public transportation or rides from friends and family for transportation to and from work during periods of license suspension or revocation. In some cases, offenders may be granted a "hardship license," allowing them to drive just to and from work. However, if an offender is caught driving outside of those strict limitations, further penalties will be imposed.
Q: What is the best way to beat a drunk driving charge?
A: The best way to avoid being convicted of drunk driving is to not drink and drive. Use a designated driver, call a taxi, call a friend, or don't drink alcohol if you are going to need to drive within a few hours. For some people, even one drink can impair their driving abilities. Remember, after having a few drinks is not the time to decide whether you are capable of driving. However, if you have been charged with driving under the influence, an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer can work to improve the outcome of your case.
Q: If I simply intend to plead guilty, why do I need a lawyer?
A: Even if you are guilty of drunk driving, it is imperative that you seek the advice of experienced counsel so that you can minimize your sentence and maximize your opportunities to move ahead toward a brighter future. Criminal defense attorneys are needed to equalize the balance of power between the defendant and the prosecution and to ensure that the constitutional rights that are guaranteed to all criminal defendants are preserved.