If you consume alcohol or drugs and proceed to get behind the wheel, you open yourself to the possibility of a DUI charge. DUI or DWI laws exist in every state, with some variations. This is one of the charges that you can easily face even if you are a law abiding citizen who drinks occasionally. It may only take a couple of beers to be in violation of the law according to the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) levels that are prescribed in your state.
Many Names, Same Meaning
DUI Law goes by a lot of names in different states, namely:
- DUI meaning Driving Under the Influence
- DWI meaning Driving While Intoxicate
- OUI meaning Operating Under the Influence
- OWI meaning Operating While Intoxicated
- OMVI meaning Operating Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated
- OVI meaning Operating a Vehicle Impaired
The charges largely remain the same, although different states have their own BAC limits and there are a couple of other differences. Another thing that also remains the same is the fact that you must secure legal representation as soon as possible, as the penalties get activated the minute the charge is laid. This is true for the suspension of your driving privilege for starters.
Prevent the Automatic Process of License Suspension
When you are arrested, you are required to request an administrative hearing with the DMV or its equivalent in your jurisdiction. This is supposed to give you an opportunity to argue for the preservation of your driving privilege before the window period to do this expires. Different states have different time periods for this countdown to suspension of your driving privilege and the suspension will also last for different periods of time depending on the gravity of charges you are facing and the level of cooperation with the police at the time of arrest.
The defenses that are open to you also vary from state to state. There are a lot of defenses that a skilled DUI lawyer can take advantage of in your defense.
What You Should Do at a Traffic Stop
A DUI charge mostly comes about as a result of traffic stops and accidents. Some of the traffic stops are routine, and yet, result in a DUI charge, while others occur after officers observe an erratic driving pattern on your part. Either way, a DUI charge can be the end result, which is why it is always advisable to have a designated driver whenever you go out for drinks or to even avoid drinking altogether. In the likely event that you become the subject of a DUI stop you must:
- Pull over immediately and do so in a well-lighted and safe area
- Ensure that you are legally parked in the stalls if you are within a parking lot
- Cooperate with police and try to be polite and calm in your interactions
- Stay in your car unless you are asked to come out
- Have your driver’s license and registration available, but don’t pull it out until the officer asks
- Roll down the driver’s side window by only a few inches to allow you to hand the documents to the officer
- Desist from issuing threats of any sort
- Avoid responding to questions concerning the consumption of alcohol
- Resist the urge to utter spontaneous statements which may incriminate you or offend the officer
- Don’t make statements to the officer to the effect that you can feel the effects of alcohol
- Submit yourself to a breathalyzer if requested by the officer
- Ask for a second breathalyzer at the police station if you are taken in
Never try to argue your case on the spot, but get in touch with your DUI lawyer immediately. Many people make the mistake of trying to act on their own behalf while not knowing the complexities of a DUI charge and the numerous harsh penalties that wait.