A DUI or DWI, is driving while under the influence or while intoxicated. The terms are interchangeable, depending on how your state labels the offense. It also includes driving while under the influence of any drug, illegal or not.
A police officer may stop your vehicle if he or she has probable cause to believe you have committed a traffic violation, including an equipment violation.
Once you are stopped, the officer can request that you take certain tests if, based upon a reasonable suspicion, he or she believes you have been driving while under the influence. This includes the following factors:
The officer can ask you to take a series of field sobriety tests (FST) designed to determine if drugs or alcohol have impaired your coordination, such as finger-to-nose, walking heel-to-toe, or balancing on one foot. A DUI defense attorney like James E. Silverstein can challenge how the officer conducted the test and if he or she used the proper protocol.
All 50 states have implied consent laws, meaning that all motorists have agreed to take a chemical test of their blood alcohol content (BAC) upon reasonable cause for the request. Any BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is a presumption that you are under the influence. In cases like this, a skilled DUI attorney like James E. Silverstein can explore any defenses to a chemical test and the validity of its results.
Most DUI or DWI charges are misdemeanor offenses if no accident or injury occurred. First-time offenders usually pay only a fine or spend a day or two in a facility. Multiple offenders face up to one year in jail and increased fines. A court generally requires the offender to attend drug or alcohol education or treatment classes.
Most states treat a higher BAC, or one at least 0.15 percent, as an aggravated offense with jail time imposed. If the defendant caused a serious accident, injury or fatality, the DWI or DUI is elevated to a felony with prison time of up to several years. In some cases, where a defendant has a prior DWI or DUI, and where a person is killed as the result of the current DWI or Dui, the defendant can then face a murder charge, pursuant to People v Watson, and face a prison sentence of up to life.
While you can refuse to take a chemical test, you risk at least a one-year suspension of your driver’s license, which can be contested at an administrative hearing. The results of any chemical test can also be challenged at this hearing, as well as at a criminal trial. First-time offenders face license suspensions of 6 months or less.
Multiple offenders whose BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, face one or several years with no driving privileges.
By hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney like James E. Silverstein, you can be assured that all available defenses to your criminal matter and your license suspension hearing will be examined, and all your rights protected.