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Frequently Asked Questions about Drunk Driving/DUI
Q: What is "blood alcohol level"?
A: Blood alcohol level (BAC) is a term used to describe the level of alcohol in the bloodstream of a person arrested for drunk driving. It is used in court as evidence of that offense. The most common method of determining BAC is through a breath test, although blood and urine testing is done in some instances. If the level is found to be at or over .10, or .08 in some states, the test results can establish a presumption of impairment.
Q: Can I refuse a Breathalyzer?
A: Although the answer can vary by state, in many cases, a refusal is itself a criminal violation subject to stiff penalties. In addition, if the case against you is proven, there may be additional penalties for the refusal, above and beyond those for the drunk driving offense.
In 2001, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Police and highway patrol officers are cracking down on drunk drivers with increasing frequency as a result of influence from groups like MADD and public outcries in general. If you find yourself at the center of this crackdown, you need an experienced drunk driving attorney to represent your interests and work toward the least restrictive outcome possible.
The drunk driving defense attorneys at the Van Nuys, Southern California law office of Eisner Gorin LLP, are board-certified criminal trial specialists with years of courtroom experience defending people facing all levels of drunk driving charges. When your driver's license, your livelihood, and your freedom are at stake, it's time for an aggressive defense. Count on Eisner Gorin LLP. Contact our office by e-mail, or call toll-free at 877-781-1570 for a prompt response.
If you've been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), don't talk to the police first. Talk to us. We speak English, Russian, Armenian, Spanish, Farsi, and Hebrew.
Drunk Driving/DUI - An Overview
The crime of drunk driving is also known as "driving under the influence," or DUI, and "driving while intoxicated," or DWI. In some states, the crime may be known as "operating while intoxicated, or OWI, or "operating under the influence," or OUI. The names vary according to how state laws refer to or define the crime. Whatever the name, the state laws all have a common aim of punishing those who drive while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. A drunk driving conviction carries with it serious and long-lasting consequences: jail or prison time, a heavy fine, and suspension or revocation of a driver's license. A person who is facing a drunk driving charge should not hesitate to seek immediate legal counsel from an experienced drunk driving defense attorney.
Parole & Probation in Drunk Driving Cases
Parole and probation are both supervisory-type mechanisms employed in the punishment phase of the criminal justice process. Parole comes into play after a person has been imprisoned and is released. Alternatively, probation refers to a criminal sentence, separate and distinct from incarceration. Probation is the most frequent sentence imposed and typically involves releasing the convicted offender into the community subject to a list of terms and conditions. The actual terms can vary widely, based on the underlying crime, the characteristics of the offender, and the resources of the probation system. All probations are subject to a requirement that the offender refrains from committing further crimes.
Persons convicted of drunk driving may be placed on probation, or for subsequent offenses, they may be given a jail or prison term and then paroled, subject to continuing supervision. Lawyers experienced in criminal defense and drunk driving law can explain the spectrum of possible punishments for drunk driving offenders and the possible sentences in greater detail.
The Prosecutor's Role in a Drunk Driving Case
Prosecution refers to the government's role in the criminal justice system. When criminal activity is suspected, it is often up to the government to investigate, arrest, charge, and bring the alleged offender to trial. Prosecutors are the lawyers who work for the government and who are responsible for developing and presenting the government's case against a defendant. Prosecutors may be called county attorneys, city attorneys, or district attorneys. The prosecutor is the opponent or "adversary" of the criminal defendant and his or her attorney; the two sides go head-to-head against each other in court. Because these public attorneys focus their energies on prosecuting criminal cases, they are generally very experienced in criminal law, and it is therefore essential to have an experienced defense attorney. Thus, in order to best preserve a criminal defendant's rights and strike a fair balance in court, representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney, particularly one knowledgeable in drunk driving law, is a must.
Challenging the Reliability of Breathalyzer Test Results
In all drunk driving cases, the prosecution must prove that the defendant's blood alcohol concentration at the time of the offense was at or above a statutory limit. In many states, the limit is .10 percent, but in others it is .08, and there is a national movement afoot to make .08 the limit in all states. In order to prove the requisite level of alcohol in the blood of someone arrested for drunk driving, it is necessary to obtain a suitable sample of the arrestee's blood, urine, or hair at the time of arrest. The use of a breath test is by far the most popular scientific method for establishing that drunk driving has occurred. Some defendants have been able to challenge the results of such tests in court successfully, thereby preventing a conviction. An attorney experienced in drunk driving defense law is in a strong position to advise a client whether the "Breathalyzer" test results may be subject to challenge in his or her particular case.
Drunk Driving and Auto Insurance
After serving a sentence and paying a fine, a person convicted of drunk driving is eager to return to life as it was before the charges. In most parts of the U.S., normal living-school, work, other activities- involves driving, and driving requires automobile insurance. While the worst parts of the charge may seem to be behind you, but you are then faced with yet another consequence: trying to obtain automobile insurance after a drunk driving conviction. An experienced defense attorney can explain, and perhaps help you avoid, the range of consequences of a drunk driving conviction.
Drunk Driving/DUI Resource Links
National Commission Against Drunk Driving NCADD develops strategies and programs focusing on the reduction of incidents of driving while impaired.
Alcohol Q&A: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Questions and answers on drunk driving, laws, and alcohol-related crashes.