According to the Department of Transportation in United States, for every 51 minutes in America, someone can be killed in a drunk driving crash, either driving while being drunk or hit by a drunk driver. That equates to roughly 27 people every day.
Consequently, one of the common causes of road accidents in most states in America is due to DUI or “driving under the influence”. This refers to a criminal offence that happened when an individual is operating a motor vehicle while in the state of being under the influence.
Being “under the influence” means that either a person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, specifically when a person has a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, or have taken any chemical or controlled substance set forth under the applicable statutes when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired.
Is it a felony or misdemeanor charge?
A DUI charge is mostly classified as a misdemeanor or a minor wrongdoing; however it can place someone in jail for as long as a year. A felony charge, on the other hand, can put someone behind bars for longer than a year. Generally, there are several types of DUI cases and certain types of cases are much more serious than others.
First Offence DUI
A first offence DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor criminal offense. In US, there are 4 types of DUIs that are under this offence, namely (A)(1), (A)(2), (A)(3) and (A)(4) charges. These offences may vary from different states.
When someone is driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, while his/her ability to drive is impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol, drugs or any combination, he or she violated (A)(1) charge. If he or she is driving while his or her blood or breath alcohol concentration is greater than the statutory limit within two hours of driving, he or she violates (A)(2) charge.
If a person is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, (A)(3) charge is violated.If a person is driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more, this can result to the violation of (A)(4) charge.
Second Offence DUI
In some states like Arizona, a second offence will happen if a person has been previously convicted of DUI during the past 5 years. As a result, he or she must face a longer mandatory jail term, with the minimum jail sentence of 30 to 60 days and a maximum term of up to six months.
Additionally, in most states in America, even for a first-time conviction, the driving privileges of a person will be drastically curtailed, especially when refusing to take the field sobriety test or submit to a breathalyzer or blood test even before going to court.
In other states, a defendant is required to undergo a minimum of one-year driver’s license revocation, which means a person’s driver’s license will not be automatically returned unless he or she would re-apply and be approved by his or her government state.
Aside from that, other states may require this person to stop drinking alcohol in a specific time, and install and maintain a vehicle interlock device on all personal vehicles he or she drives at least a year following the restoration of his or her driver’s license.
Extreme offence DUI
When a person blood or breath alcohol concentration exceeds a greater statutory limit, he or she will be charged of a DUI extreme offence. Other states may consider this offence as “Driving under the Extreme Influence of Intoxicating Liquor” with the statutory limit for 0.15% B.A.C.
In most states, previously, this Extreme DUI conviction normally had a mandatory jail sentence of 120 days to six months, but, nowadays, a minimum mandatory jail term of 30 days and a fine of $500.00 to $2,500.00 plus surcharges is more common .
While convicted in an extreme offence, a person can also be placed on probation, have a driver’s license suspension, and be required to install and maintain a vehicle interlock device in all personal vehicles he or she drives for a period of at least one-year after his or her driver’s license has been restored.
Among all types of DUI, aggravated DUI is the worst case. It is essentially a DUI with specific “aggravating” influences that occur at the time of the arrest, specifically when a person is
- driving with a license that is suspended, revoked or restricted;
- driving under influence while having a child under 15 in the car; and
- having multiple DUIs within a certain period of time.
In this regard, Aggravated DUI is a Class 4 Felony that requires a mandatory prison term upon conviction. It has a minimum mandatory prison term for four months. However, if the offender is released on probation, he or she will return to prison if there is a subsequent violation.
If a person has two prior DUI convictions in the past 5 years, your legal aid may employ either or both of the following elements to aid an offender’s defense: first, the current DUI charge is an element of the offense and all of the defenses to regular DUI can be raised; and second, the prior DUI convictions are an element of the offense and must be valid and have occurred within the five year period. It would be better to settle on experienced and trusted lawyers in your states, for instance the Legal Aed DUI lawyers in Fresno, California.
Finally, an Aggravated DUI conviction requires a mandatory minimum of three year driver’s license revocation. After this revocation period, the license will not be returned without a reinstatement application. The driver’s license cannot be reinstated unless the offender’s state government believes the defendant will not endanger society by driving while intoxicated.
Be vigilant at all times. The constitution states that you automatically have a right to have a jury trial within six months of pleading not guilty. More importantly, you also have constitutional protections at trial.
Remember that ignorance of the law excuses no one. You need to be literate of the offences you might made, as well as the proper law processes you must take. In this way, you might be able to know how to defend yourself once you know which DUI offence you violated.