For many years, Driving Under the influence (DUI) was handled much like any other routine traffic violation. Over the years, laws and attitudes have changed and in most states now, driving under the influence is considered a more serious offense. These changes have been spearheaded by groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other interest groups dotting the entire country. In many states if you are driving impaired, you can receive a conviction if your blood content is .08 percent or more, or if you fail what’s known as a field sobriety test. In fact, the blood alcohol content is even lower for drivers under the age of 21 and commercial drivers.
Even though the consequences of DUI do vary, the penalties are generally quite serious and severe. Depending on the state, a first offender may be subject to several penalties such as temporary impounding of the vehicle being driven, a fine of up to several thousand dollars, the installation of an ignition lock that prevents the car from starting if the driver has been drinking, possible jail time, probation, revocation of the driver’s license, completion of substance abuse classes at the drivers own expense and community service amongst a host of other penalties. The above mentioned penalties do increase substantially if the driver is a repeat offender or if he is a repeat offender. The driver will also be saddled with a criminal record which may haunt him or her for years or even decades to come.
It should be noted that if a driver has multiple prior convictions, he or she can be prosecuted in any state for felony DUI even if no accident took place. In a state such as Florida for example, a driver can be prosecuted for felony DUI on the third offense within ten years. It is also possible to be charged with a felony for even a first offense if you caused an accident and someone was injured. In the event that the accident resulted in a death, the driver can be charged with vehicular homicide or manslaughter, both of these offenses can lead to long term prison sentences lasting decades.
If you are charged with a DUI, the first thing you ought to do is to contact an experienced DUI attorney. You can find a DUI attorney by contacting your local state bar association or asking people close to you for referrals. You should know the exact charges brought against you and your court dates. Once you have made the initial contact, many attorneys will provide free consultation to discuss your case and the available options. Some attorneys bill for this initial consultation, so make sure you ask when you are making the first appointment. An attorney should be able to give you an estimate of how long your case will take. If you decide to engage his services, an attorney would give you a detailed written fee agreement which you should take your time and read carefully before signing.
DUI attorneys will use a variety of defense strategies which may either reduce the penalties you face or lead to a not guilty verdict. The lawyer may challenge the initial reason why you were originally stopped, the results of a breathalyzer test which showed that you were driving impaired or challenge the results of a field sobriety test.