How a DUI Lawyer Can Help You Understand the Charges and the Penalties in Your State

A skilled DUI lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and the court’s process. You may be able to fight the charge by challenging the evidence.

For a DUI case to convict you, the prosecutor must prove you were either driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated. A skilled DUI attorney can challenge whether you were actually in control of the vehicle.

1. Loss of Driver’s License

While the laws vary by state, DUIs generally lead to fines, driver’s license suspension or revocation, jail time and treatment programs. In addition, convicted drivers will likely have to install an ignition interlock device in their car.

The terms DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably but are different charges. Basically, DUI applies to alcohol while DWI refers to any drug that impairs your ability to drive. This includes illicit drugs as well as prescription and over the counter medications.

The specific penalties you will face depend on a number of factors including your blood alcohol concentration, whether children were in the car and whether this is your first offense. Typically, the most serious convictions will result in multi-year license suspensions. In addition, you may have to pay for SR-22 insurance.

2. Jail Time

Depending on your state’s laws, you could face jail time for DUI/DWI. This is particularly true if you have multiple convictions on your record or if there was an accident or injury involved.

At a DUI trial, the prosecution will present evidence including witness testimony and chemical tests like breathalyzers. The defense will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and object to evidence. Typically, once the prosecution rests its case, the defense will have an opportunity to offer its closing argument.

After deliberations, the jury will either agree on a guilty verdict or a not guilty verdict. If the jurors cannot reach a consensus, a judge will declare a mistrial. This usually happens when there is a serious problem with the evidence in the case, like a flawed breathalyzer test result.

3. Administrative License Revocation (ALR)

If a driver fails a chemical test or refuses to take a test, the arresting officer will immediately suspend their license. This is called an administrative license revocation (ALR).

The person’s suspension can last up to three years and has the potential to increase their insurance rates by over 67%. That’s a lot of money, and it could have a long-lasting impact on their life.

In ALR hearings, an administrative law judge listens to all evidence and makes a final determination on whether your driver license should be suspended. This process typically takes less than a day. You can request a hearing within 15 days of being served with notice. If you do so, you’ll get your license back sooner than otherwise. It’s important to know everything you can about the ALR process.

4. Fines

Although the exact penalties vary from state to state, most DUI cases result in a fine and, in many states, an automatic driver’s license suspension. Most first offenders also face community service and treatment diversion programs.

A skilled defense attorney can often have the case dismissed or reduce the charges, particularly if there is not sufficient evidence of a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit.

A conviction of a DUI carries serious consequences, including a permanent criminal record, and may negatively impact everything from employment to housing. It is important to consult with a licensed DUI attorney in your area. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with New York’s distinction between DUI, DWI, and DWAI, and the legal penalties associated with each. (The terms are used interchangeably in most everyday conversations.)

5. Community Service

The term community service may be used to refer to the work a person or group performs on a voluntary basis for the benefit of their local community. However, it is distinct from volunteering because it is often required by a court as part of a sentence for a crime or as an alternative to other judicial sanctions such as jail time and fines.

Those who participate in community service learn to put their own needs aside and help those who need it the most. They also gain a better understanding of the diversity of their neighbors. This helps to break down stereotypes, which are judgments that reveal themselves in quick conclusions based on visible characteristics and can cause harm to relationships. It also allows people to learn that not everyone fits into the preconceived ideas they may have about someone based on their race, religion or gender.