Driving under the influence, also known as a DUI, is a serious offense and if you are arrested for a DUI, legal representation by a DuPage County DUI Lawyer is required. Anyone that is operating a motorized vehicle while intoxicated can get a DUI-type of offense. Different jurisdictions use different terms to identify a DUI. For instance, some jurisdictions may use the term OUI, which means operating under the influence, or DWI, which means driving while intoxicated. Although there are different terms used, they all mean the same thing; driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and these are serious offenses that should not be taken lightly.
Things That Are Considered A DUI
Being Stopped For Suspected DUI
If you have been charged with a DUI, it means a police officer apprehended you while you were operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the majority of states, a police officer only needs to have suspicions that an individual may be intoxicated and that they should be stopped. Some of the reasons for the initial stop may include the person’s behaviors, posture while driving, mild inconsistencies in driving, or a variety of other reasons. Once you have been stopped by a police officer for suspected DUI, the officer can administer tests to confirm if you are legally intoxicated.
Field Sobriety Tests
To determine if you are legally intoxicated or not, the police officer will use a variety of field sobriety tests; however, the measurement of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is determined with the use of a breathalyzer, a urinalysis, or a blood test. In order to determine legal intoxication, there is a standard minimum, which in most states is 0.08. Anything above 0.08 is considered intoxicated, so it’s important to consult with a DUI attorney who will potentially question the method in which the BAC was measured.
Even if you pass the field sobriety tests, but fail the BAC measure, you will generally be arrested immediately. Unfortunately, in some jurisdictions even people whose BAC levels are below the limit for establishing legal intoxication may still be charged with a DUI offense, depending on how you were driving, your behavior, whether there was an accident, etc. The reason you may still be charged with a DUI but had a legal BAC measurement is that many state officials and judges consider any level of alcohol in your system may potentially cause impairment in your judgment and driving ability.
Not Just Alcohol Use
Many people associate a DUI as an offense for someone who has been drinking alcohol and driving; a charge of DUI is not just limited to the use of alcohol. Individuals who are operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including prescription or over-the-counter drugs can be charged with a DUI offense. If you are taking medications or over the counter, before operating a motor vehicle, it is essential that you read the label to find out if the medication may make you drowsy. If you are pulled over for suspected DUI, and the officer doesn’t smell alcohol, they will ask you if you are on any medications.
Arrested For A DUI
If you are arrested for a DUI, the arresting police officer has the responsibility of removing you from the situation and off of the road. Generally, this means taking you to the police station, booking you, and then putting you in jail until you can post bail. In a lot of jurisdictions, you must also have a significant decrease in your BAC before you will be released on your own recognizance. The actual amount of time you may spend in jail depends on the jurisdiction, the situation surrounding the arrest, whether you can be released on bail and if you have charges as well as the DUI.
After you have been arrested for a DUI, you will have to go to court for the arraignment. During the arraignment, you will be formally charged with a criminal offense and will have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. The typically recommended advice is to plead not guilty at your arraignment, pay your bond, and then as soon as you are released, contact an attorney that is experienced in handling DUI cases.
A DUI may be a felony, depending on a variety of factors. For instance, if this is your first time getting a DUI, you will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor. But someone who causes severe injuries or death to someone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be charged with a felony, regardless of whether or not it is your first DUI. In some states, an individual may also be charged with a felony (even first-time offenses), if their BAC is high. Although what is considered “high” varies from one jurisdiction to another, the standard is a BAC of 0.15 or higher. While being charged with a DUI, the authorities may also be charged with higher-level offenses, such as driving with a restricted license. Being charged with a DUI is serious, regardless of whether it’s your first or your tenth, so it is important to contact an attorney as possible following your arrest.