Apr 13, 2015

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DUI: An Administrative and Criminal Offense

If there is one traffic violation that Americans are keeping away from, it would be driving under the influence (DUI), also identified as driving while intoxicated (DWI) in some states.

A number of states actually differ in their use of the two acronyms. There are states which consider DWI as a more serious offense than DUI; in some other states, DUI means being under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or both, while DWI refers to intoxication due to alcohol only. However, people should be aware that impairment in one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is not limited to the use of alcohol or illegal drugs in some states, such as in California, where driving impairment due to prescription drugs can also end up in a DUI charge.

According to the website of Truslow & Truslow, Attorneys at Law, law enforcers are focused more than ever in apprehending suspected drunk drivers, that is drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or above. However, the overzealousness of some in enforcing anti –drunk driving laws has resulted, at times, to people being charged unjustly. Thus, while it is very important that a driver, who may be suspected of driving under the influence, pulls over when ordered to and performs or undergoes all the tests required by a traffic enforcer, it is also equally vital that he or she remains silent to avoid any possibility of him or her incriminating himself or herself.

Other than making sure that drivers are sober as they are get observed at sobriety checkpoints, law enforcers also keep an eye on possible drunken drivers. These are drivers who:

  • Make very wide or narrow turns
  • Use two lanes, straddling the road’s center line, or who drive on the center line
  • Drift from one side of the road to another
  • Almost hit something or someone
  • Drive too slowly and are overly cautious

A DUI charge always has two separate implications: an administrative offense and a criminal offense. The first falls under the domain of a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and its immediate effect is suspension of one’s license, especially if the driver refuses to take a chemical test (consent to take a chemical test is a DMV condition in the issuance of a license). A DUI criminal offense involves a violation of a criminal law and is, therefore, subject to a legal proceeding, wherein a driver may be charged either with a misdemeanor DUI or felony DUI.

A misdemeanor DUI means that the drunk driver neither damaged any property nor injured anyone; however, the driver can still suffer up to 6 months imprisonment. A felony DUI is more serious due to injury of an innocent victim, prior misdemeanors or a prior felony DUI committed within the last 10 years.

Though a felony DUI conviction is definitely scarier than a misdemeanor DUI, being convicted of either offense can have a devastating effect in the personal and professional life of the convicted driver. But a charge does not have to end up in a conviction, granted that a charged driver gets represented by an experienced legal counsel. A criminal defense lawyer from the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C., is one lawyer that a charged driver will definitely want to have on his or her side during this time.

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