Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Managing Punishment & Penalties

dui what to do

It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle impaired by drugs or alcohol. The name of the specific offense may vary from state to state, but typically it is driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). The ramifications, consequences, and penalties are serious. Pleading guilty to or a conviction for driving impaired can lead to jail time, fines, license suspension, steep monetary penalties, and driver education and rehabilitation programs. Knowing what to do after being arrested for a DUI and presenting a viable defense are crucial in mitigating penalties or even being acquitted of the charges.

What is a DUI?

Generally, a DUI is the crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. The exact definition of a DUI varies from state to state. In Illinois, a DUI covers all types of impaired driving, from driving drunk to driving under the influence of drugs (whether prescribed or illegal). If your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, you are considered legally drunk, and it is illegal for you to drive. However, if you are driving with a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08%, you may still be cited for a DUI if your behavior suggests you are impaired, which is at the discretion of the officer citing you.

What are the penalties for a DUI?

In all states, the first DUI is typically classified as a misdemeanor, and can punishable by up to six months in jail or even more for a driver whose BAC is well above the legal limit. Subsequent DUI charges can often result in increased jail time. For a DUI that has been classified as a felony—typically because someone was injured or killed or because of a repeat offense—terms of imprisonment may be several years.

In addition to jail sentences, courts usually impose significant fines for DUI charges. These range from $500 to as much as $2,000. These fines, in addition to bail, bond, attorney’s fees, court-ordered assessments, remedial education or treatment programs, and increased insurance premiums, can easily cost even a first-time offender more than $20,000.

Additional, non-monetary penalties can include having your driver’s license suspended for a substantial period of time (either by court order or mandate of the state motor vehicles department), confiscation of the car or cancellation of its registration, a mandatory ignition interlock device attached to the car, alcohol counseling and prevention programs, treatment for alcohol abuse, assessment of a person for possible alcohol or drug dependency or addiction, and community service or victim restitution.

What to do to defend a DUI?

In order to prove a DUI, the prosecution must prove two main things: 1) the offender drove a vehicle; and 2) while operating the vehicle, the offender was “under the influence” of alcohol and/or a drug. A defense to a DUI can include anything that proves one or both of these two elements wrong. Typical defenses to a DUI include: the officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle (i.e. the officer pulled the driver over for no legitimate reason); the officer did not have probable cause to make the arrest (i.e. the officer had no legitimate reason to believe the driver was impaired); and/or the driver was not provided with his/her Miranda rights when arrested.

A DUI is a very serious offense, which can involve jail time and other significant penalties. If you have questions or need assistance related to a DUI, find an experienced DUI lawyer by quickly posting a short summary of your legal needs on Legal Services Link, and let the perfect lawyer come to you!

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Posted - 12/18/2016