Driving Under the Influence Penalties
The crime of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs- known as a DUI- is recognized in all fifty US states. Criminal laws vary from state to state, therefore DUI charges and DUI penalties will greatly vary from state to state. As a general rule, a DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances involved in the DUI case.
In addition to DUI laws, there are also per se laws in every state. This means that it is a crime to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of more than 0.08 percent in all fifty states. Therefore, you may be charged with a DUI (or DWI- driving while intoxicated) and a per se offense. A defendant can be convicted of one or both, but the DUI penalties can only be charged for one of these offenses.
DUI penalties can be enhanced or increased based on specific circumstances. As a general rule , DUI penalties will be harsher under the following circumstances: if a child was in the car at the time of the DUI, if the defendant has a prior DUI conviction, if the driver was speeding twenty to thirty miles above the speed limit, if the driver's blood alcohol level was at or above .20 percent, and if there were property damages or injuries caused by the DUI incident. In most states, if there was any type of injury caused by the accident, the DUI penalties are automatically increased and the crime is charged as a felony. If there were fatalities related to the DUI incident, the DUI penalties can be charged as vehicular manslaughter, or in some cases, second degree murder.
In most states there are also DUI penalties related to implied consent laws. Implied consent means that because you are a licensed driver you have implicitly consented to chemical testing for drugs or alcohol. If you refuse chemical testing of your breath, blood or urine at the time of the incident (or subsequently thereafter) , you may be subject to harsher DUI penalties. In most states if you refuse to take a chemical test, there are administrative license suspension DUI penalties. These laws allow for your license to be taken away immediately (before a conviction) and it may be suspended for a certain time thereafter, depending on the state where the incident occurred.
In some states, restricted driving may be allowed with the installation of ignition interlocks. These devices analyze the driver's blood alcohol levels and disable the car's ignition if levels higher than the legal limit are found. Multiple offenders may be required to give up their vehicles as part of their DUI penalties.
DUI penalties in most states include legal penalties and Department of Motor Vehicle penalties. In most places, laws have placed minimum DUI penalties on certain convictions. DUI penalties may involve a fine, restriction, suspensio n or revocation of license or vehicle, DUI school, and time spent in jail. Recently, several states have begun to enact harsher DUI penalties, especially for repeat offenders. Because the DUI laws are so complex and vary by location, it is important to consult with a lawyer who can help.
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