Drunk Driving Charges and DUI Defense Lawyers
DUI is an acronym that stands for driving under the influence. A felony is a serious crime that generally involves harsher consequences than lesser crimes known as misdemeanors. In most places, DUI is a crime that can be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. A felony DUI generally results when there are circumstances that aggravate a person’s decision to drive under the influence.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous because alcohol impairs the person’s motor skills and decreases his or her ability to act quickly when driving a vehicle. The different drunk driving charges are:
- misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI)
- felony DUI
- juvenile DUI
- commercial driver DUI
Drunk driving charges can also be combined with prescription drug use, illegal substance use, and manslaughter charges.
A person will mostly likely be charged with a misdemeanor DUI for the person’s first, second, or third arrest. The conviction of the person’s first offense can carry a jail sentence of up to six month and a fine of $2500 US Dollars (USD). An individual convicted of drunk driving charges will lose his license for up to 90 days, though he may be able to apply for a restricted license after 30 days. A second offense DUI conviction will revoke the person’s license for a year, and he or she may have to have a vehicle interlock device installed in his or her car for the remaining amount of probation time.
Felony DUI charges are reserved for a person’s fourth DUI offense in 10 years or for a person who was involved in a motor vehicle accident where people were injured. The penalty for this offense is usually jail time, restitution to the persons injured, fines, and the revocation of the person’s license for three years.
A person will also have to complete alcohol-related classes. The legal blood alcohol consumption (BAC) limit, which is measured by either mass or volume depending on the country, is 0.02 percent in China and Sweden, while in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland the legal limit is 0.08 percent. There are zero tolerance laws in effect in some countries, such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Slovakia.
The legal limit for juveniles is 0.02 percent or 0.00 percent in many countries, and underage persons will be charged with a juvenile DUI if he or she tests positive for alcohol use. Depending on the country, the legal limit to consume alcohol is usually between 18 and 21 years of age. If the person is no yet able to drink alcohol legally, he or she may be charged with an underage drinking offense as well.
Commercial drivers who face drunk driving charges will be sentenced with much harsher penalties. The legal limit for BAC levels in commercial drivers is usually lower than the state or country’s legal limit. A person’s license will be revoked for a period of time, heavy fines will be imposed, and the person’s employer will have grounds to terminate the person’s position at the company. If the person is convicted of a second DUI, his or her commercial license could be permanently revoked.
Many jurisdictions have both felony DUI and misdemeanor DUI charges. Which charge a person receives can be based on numerous aggravating circumstances. For example, in most jurisdictions, drunk driving is confirmed by a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). When a person’s BAC is above a designated level, he may be charged with a DUI. If, however, his BAC is substantially higher than the designated level, he may be charged with a felony DUI.
A person may also receive a felony charge when bodily harm is caused. If a person is caught drunk driving due to speeding, swerving, or other driving errors, he may simply be charged with a misdemeanor. If, however, his drunk driving is brought to the attention of the authorities because he has harmed or killed someone, he is likely to receive a felony charge.
If an individual consumes alcohol or drugs, and then operates a motor vehicle, he or she can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). In situations when that same individual is involved in a car crash that results in the death of another, the impaired driver may be charged with DUI manslaughter. If convicted of this crime, extensive prison time can be sentenced by a criminal court judge. In addition, the driver may be required to attend a rehabilitative program, and possibly pay restitution or compensation, to the family of the deceased.
The difference between DUI manslaughter and DUI murder is the intent of the driver while committing the criminal act. If he or she has not previously been charged with a DUI or other felony, and the crime is an isolated event, DUI manslaughter is the most likely charge when a fatality occurs. In cases when the driver is a repeat offender, however, a DUI murder conviction is possible. In other words, it is often deemed manslaughter when the driver’s intent was careless or reckless, and when the person does not normally behave that way. Alternatively, murder is considered the malicious act of someone with a depraved mind who intended to cause harm, or repeatedly committed the same crime despite judicial punishment.
Know Your Rights – Contact DUI Defense Attorney
If you drink and drive, get the phone number of a good West Palm Beach DUI attorney and keep it in your wallet or pocketbook. The faster you have legal representation after a DUI arrest, the better your chances are for a dismissal and expungement. There is no way to predict the future. But you can prepare for it. If you get charged with a DUI in Palm Beach County, get yourself the best representation.
The most important thing in DUI/DWI cases is early intervention by your attorney. There are defenses in DUI accident cases, which an experienced and capable lawyer can use. Even if you made a statement to police during your arrest, our lawyers can usually get that evidence thrown out of court. Any statement you give officers cannot be used against you due to the Florida accident report privilege.
Protecting Your Right to Drive
Unless your request a DMV hearing within 10 days of arrest, you will lose your driver’s license. Even if your license is revoked, we can apply for a hardship license, which is usually immediately granted to you. We have never had a hardship license denied to one of our clients.
To schedule a consultation with an experienced DUI attorney contact the law offices of Andrew D. Stine.