About 30 people die of drunk-driving accidents daily in the US. This means that one death is reported hourly following a DUI accident. The US Department of Transportation said that in 2018, there were 10,511 fatalities from drunk-driving crashes.
These stats prove that driving under the influence is a serious traffic safety risk and a major public health issue. Also known as driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) or operating under the influence (OUI) in some states, DUI cause about a third or 29% of all traffic fatalities.
If the Orange County police arrest for driving while impaired, it can be confusing, especially if it’s the first time. You want to call a Midway City DUI Attorney after your arrest as the case procedures can be lengthy, from court appearances, revoked driver's license, fines, or even jail time.
Remember that getting arrested doesn’t equate to getting convicted. Every year about 1.5 million drivers are arrested for DUI crimes, according to the American Automobile Association.
See, there are chances that your charges will be dropped if you use an Orange County DUI Attorney. What if, during the field sobriety test, the law enforcer recorded inaccurate blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) results? No need to worry if you engage our DUI defense attorneys.
First Offense DUI
A first offense DUI is a severe issue in most states. Every state has its own rules regarding first time DUI. A first time DUI is when you don’t have a charge history for driving under the influence for at least ten years. While in many states, first time DUI is considered as a misdemeanor, the long-term or short-term consequences are severe.
Penalties for A First Offense DUI
A first offense DUI can drain your savings and the potential punishment for first DUI offenders varies from state to state. Mostly, offenders are jailed for less than a year or are fined. Also, if your BAC is low and your record is clean, jail time can be lowered to a community service program.
But, before moving to court, talking to a Midway City DUI Attorney ensure you understand better all legal choices available. A reputable DUI attorney also offers the best advice before pleading innocent or guilty.
Jail-time for A First Offense DUI
Odds are you never want to lose your freedom following a first offense DUI. Jail-time a first offense DUI depends on where you committed the crime. Many states, treat first-time crimes with leniency.
Often, defendants are charged with misdemeanor first time DUI crimes. But, in certain circumstances, the first time DUI charges are considered felonies. For instance, when you cause death or serious harm to another person.
Can Your License Get Suspended After A First DUI Offense?
What is other punishment harsher than having your driver’s license revoked after a first DUI crime? Things are more jarring if you depend on your car to drop children at school and fetching them after school, or transporting goods to the marketplace.
In most states, when you are charged with a first time DUI, you risk losing your license for 90 days. And, if you resist a chemical test, the juror can extend the penalty period.
There are states in the US that allow first DUI offenders to apply for a restricted driver’s license. A restricted license lets you drive to your work-place, school, or an alcohol rehabilitation program as directed by a juror. In Orange County, a six-month license suspension is imposed for a first offense DUI in addition to a restricted license.
Vehicle Insurance Rates for A First Offense DUI
The Insurance Information Institute reports that drunk-driving accidents cost the US $40 billion yearly. So, the next time you decide to take an extra bottle of beer, remember how expensive your car insurance rates can get should you get charged with DUI.
Some insurers could cancel your insurance policy if you appear ‘too high a risk.’ Also, if you have had many DUI charges in the past, you risk a very high insurance premium raise.
DUI Fines and Extra Fees
DUIs are expensive – period. First time DUI fines range from $500 to $2000. You pay, in addition to fines, court fees, compensation to accusers who incurred injuries, and fees to reinstate your license.
Now, add the fines and court fees to increased insurance premiums, money to get your car out of impoundment, and an ignition interlock device (IID) if needed.
Alcohol/Drug Treatment Program
Alcohol education programs are a must in several states. In California, first-time offenders undertake a mandatory three-month alcohol treatment course. Here, defendants get help to stop alcoholism.
Per Se DUI Laws
All states have ‘per se’ (a Latin phrase) or ‘by itself’ (in English) drunk-driving regulations. Generally, these laws require that you avoid driving if your BAC is .0.8% or above. Levels of BAC are determined using a breathalyzer, a gadget that measures the level of alcohol in your breath, or a chemical test.
If chemical or breath tests reveal a .08% BAC, you are guilty of driving while intoxicated. The police do not need more evidence like crossing a traffic line or failing a field sobriety test.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in grams of alcohol per deciliter (G/DL)
Observable Effects When Driving
.02 – approx. two drinks
· Increased body temperature
· Relaxed mood
· Slight judgment impairment
· Lowered ability to multitask
.05 – approx. three drinks
· Unusual behavior
· Difficulties in eye movement
· Feeling high
· Poor coordination
· Divided attention
.08 – approx. four drinks
· Poor coordination of the muscles
· Lack of alertness
· Lack of concentration
· Impaired judgment
· Slow processing of information
.10 – approx. five drinks
· Slow response to questions
· Poor muscle coordination
· Delayed sensory reaction
· Evident wearing on the road
.15 – approx. seven drinks
· Total balance loss
· Improper control of the vehicle
Table 1. The effects of different levels of BAC
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies show that fatalities caused by DUI decreased by 50% since the passing of the per se law.
Can You Challenge BAC Results?
If you record a .08 percent BAC, you can still challenge the law with the help of a good Midway City DUI Attorney. Your lawyer can help challenge the accuracy of the devices used, legitimacy of test results, or even the test procedure.
Possible situations where you can challenge BAC testing results in court are when the police don’t follow the right testing procedures or when the testing kit is not calibrated correctly. Blood samples that are not well-stored ferment; hence, final results are compromised.
Usually, BAC fluctuates after drinking. Before alcohol is absorbed in your body, the levels of alcohol in the blood rise and lower after metabolism occur. Here, you have a rising-blood-alcohol defense, and you can challenge the BAC results with the help of an expert who understands the metabolism mechanism.
The police need a warrant before they can take your blood test. If the police proceed with the tests without authorization, the juror rejects the evidence as it was seized illegally.
Underage DUI: Zero Tolerance
According to US laws, any person under the age of 21 is “underage”. The law prohibits underage persons from taking alcohol. There exist different regulations and penalties for underage DUI.
What Makes Up Zero Tolerance Laws?
The allowed limit for BAC is .08%. Anything above this is a violation of the per se laws. However, the statutes are different if you are below the age of 21; the government recognizes you as underage.
The state of California plus the other 49 states have zero-tolerance laws for underage. As an underage, you are not allowed to drive with the slightest level of alcohol in your blood (above .02% BAC). You don’t want to sip a glass of wine at a friend’s party and later drive home – you risk being charged with DUI.
Why Zero Tolerance Laws?
The NHTSA reports reveal that 35% of road crashes causing fatalities of persons of ages between 15 and 20 are linked to drunk-driving. Drivers under 21 years are twice as likely to drive under the influence compared to over-21 years.
In 2005, all states of the US agreed to enact the National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 as a law, failure to which Federal-Aid Highway Funds won’t be released. The act limits the allowed BAC for under-21 drivers at 0.02 percent.
Research by the NHTSA shows that first states to embrace the zero-tolerance law recorded a 20 percent decrease in drunk-driving fatalities with under-21 drivers.
Underage DUI crimes have, apart from health and safety effects, other damaging outcomes like future difficulties to secure a job and higher vehicle insurance premiums.
If a typical DUI results in severe punishments, imagine the amount of trouble you get in with aggravated DUI. While the first offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor, aggravated DUI makes up a felony crime. And, the penalties are typically harsher.
What Factors Result to Aggravated DUI
The following are factors that could result in an aggravated DUI charge plus harsh punishments. The type of penalties, however, hangs on the state where your case was reported. So, you should talk to a Midway City DUI Attorney if your DUI prosecution is in this city, to better understand the possible consequences.
An Extremely High Blood Alcohol Level (BAC)
Any person caught driving with a .08% and above BAC violates the law. However, depending on the state, if your BAC reaches extreme levels, for example, twice or three times the legal limit, your case escalates to an aggravated DUI.
Aggravated DUI, also known as extreme DUI, attracts hefty fines and longer jail time.
Minors in The Vehicle
If a minor is present in your car while you are drunk driving, you are charged with aggravated DUI if caught. However, different states stipulate age limits for minors that escalate standard DUIs to aggravated DUIs.
In some states, a minor is below 16 years, while in others, the age limit is 12. Other states would enhance DUI penalties if the crime happened near a learning institution, irrespective of whether a minor was in the vehicle.
Aggravated driving also applies to school bus drivers. If a driver operates a school bus under the influence, they are charged with aggravated drunk driving.
Revoked Driving License
You don’t want to get arrested drunk driving on a revoked license. Things can get ugly, and penalties increase for showing deliberate disrespect for the law. Regardless of the events that led to having your license revoked, you are charged with aggravated DUI if caught driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Depending on your state, excessive speeding can be charged differently with a typical DUI. In other states, you can get charged with aggravated DUI is you exceed the stipulated speed limit according to the regulations.
Regulations of Commercial DUI
Holders of commercial driver’s license (CDL) such as truck operators and bus drivers risk higher penalties than non-commercial drivers if caught driving while intoxicated. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that a commercial driver, in addition to posing serious health and safety to society, they are a liability to their employer.
Following are drivers and owners that are accountable for violations of regulations about alcohol and drug use by commercial drivers:
- Owners of commercial automobile
- An employer to a driver operating commercial motor vehicles
- Local, state, and federal governments
- Private cars
- Cars for hire
- Civic organizations
FMCSA Blood Alcohol Limits
The BAC limit for commercial drivers as stipulated by the FMCSA is .04%. Also, commercial drivers are required not to drive before four hours elapse after taking alcohol.
Alcohol and Drug Tests for Commercial Drivers
When a road crash happens involving commercial drivers, the FMCSA requires them to take a drug test. Other situations where you need to have an alcohol or drug test are:
- If there is reasonable suspicion
- When prior records are showing the driver’s violation of drug policy
Common drugs that are screened include cocaine, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP), amphetamines, and cocaine.
If you resist taking a blood alcohol test, the FMCSA regulations state that you risk increased penalties. In some states, this is like pleading guilty to drinking under influence charges.
Effect of a Commercial DUI
Besides the .04% BAC cap, commercial DUI defendants face similar charges as the non-commercial drivers when charged with impaired driving. Also, CDL-holders, if charged with DUI, they risk lengthier suspension of their licensed than a conventional DUI. Imagine not earning a living for two years following DUI conviction.
If a CDL-holder gets charged with DUI while off duty, such as when driving a personal car, they must notify their employer in 30 days. The law prohibits an employer from employing a DUI-convicted commercial driver during the period of license suspension.
Note that after your CDL is reinstated, it could be such a task securing a driving job with a DUI record on the books.
While most states consider a standard DUI violation as a misdemeanor, some situations can make you get charged with a felony. Often, felony DUI charges come with enhanced punishment and more severe consequences than a typical DUI conviction.
Felony DUI regulations are different in every state. So, it is imperative to find out what felony DUI laws exist in your state. Below, you find the answers to a common question – what makes up a felony DUI?
Exceedingly High Blood Alcohol Levels
0.08 grams per alcohol deciliter (g/dl) is the current per se DUI statute in the United States. According to the law, any driver driving with a .08% BAC of higher violates the standard DUI rule.
It is not uncommon to find drivers with elevated BAC - two or three times the allowed levels. Blood alcohol levels of .15% and above are considered as high levels. Table 1 shows what effects different levels of BAC have when driving. So, if you have a .016% BAC, the juror is likely to impose enhanced penalties.
A DUI case escalates to a felony when another person incurs injuries. However, in some states like California, the prosecution must present evidence that a driver charged with DUI caused bodily harm. Look at this scenario where a sober driver rams into a drunk driver at a stop sign, and the sober driver incurs injuries. Here, the driver under the influence doesn’t cause injuries to another. Thus, they are charged with misdemeanor DUI.
Multiple DUI Convictions
DUI convictions in most states like California are removed after ten years. If you violate drunk-driving laws four times within ten years, the state charges you with felony DUI.
Presence of Children in The Vehicle
Most states have statutes that add severe penalties if you are caught drunk driving with a child in the car. Your case could be treated as a felony if chemical tests reveal high blood alcohol levels.
Intoxicated Driving on a Suspended/Restricted License
Nothing worse than driving under the influence of drugs while your license is revoked following a similar or another traffic offense. Here, you are charged with felony DUI and risk severe punishment like hefty fines, many years’ jail-time, or even both.
Find a Midway City DUI Attorney Near Me
DUI charges can sap your energy and savings alike. You can have your charge penalties lowered or dropped with the help of a Midway City DUI Attorney. Whether you are charged with aggravated, felony, first offense, or commercial DUI, we will see to it that you don’t lose your freedom or driver’s license.
If your loved one is facing any DUI-related charge, an Orange County DUI Attorney is all that you need. Our DUI attorney team is robust, and they handle your case from arraignment through release. With our DUI attorney, you understand better your lawful rights and the best legal options you could take.
Don’t hesitate in such a serious state; call us today at 949-377-2280 to have your DUI defense sorted.