This form addresses important considerations that may effect the legal rights and obligations of the parties in a DUI/DWI matter. This questionnaire enables those seeking legal help to effectively identify and prepare their issues and problems. Thorough advance preparation enhances the attorney's case evaluation and can significantly reduce costs associated with case preparation.
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DUI - Know Your Legal Rights
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a charge that can permanently affect your life if your legal rights aren't properly protected. Driving under the influence or DUI is the offense of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI is also known as driving while intoxicated or DWI. The offense of DUI also includes operating a machine under the influence of alcohol, which is known as operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating under the influence (OUI). Drivers driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol are generally referred to as drunk drivers.
For the offense to qualify as a DUI, complete intoxication is not necessary but the level of alcohol must prevent a driver from driving safely. Therefore, a person commits the offense of DUI when the alcohol content in his/her body is above the statutory limit.
Blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is the level at which a person cannot drive safely. The BAC limit is fixed by state statutes, and the statutory limit varies from state to state. A majority of the states have fixed BAC limit at 0.08% or above. The blood alcohol content level is examined by testing blood samples or by taking a breath sample. The device used for analyzing blood alcohol content from a breath sample is called a breathalyzer.
A person accused of DUI has a constitutional right to demand and get material evidence against him/her from the prosecution. A motion in limine is a motion that can be filed by an accused for securing evidence from prosecution. The ratio of alcohol in the breath to alcohol in the blood is called a partition ratio. Sometimes partition ratio varies considerably. A variation in partition ratio is not admissible as evidence in the courts.
However, in some jurisdictions, the offense of DUI or DWI is illegal per se and proof of intoxication is not needed. A person may be convicted solely based on the BAC limit at the time of being in physical control of a motor vehicle. A majority of jurisdictions impose severe punishment to commercial drivers for exceeding the blood alcohol level statutory limit.
Generally, a DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable with imprisonment up to one year. However, the offense of DUI may be a felony if drunk drivers commit:
- serious injury;
- extensive property damage; or
- have previous convictions.
Driving While Intoxicated and License Suspension
A state may suspend an individual's driving license for drunk driving under administrative license suspension (ALS) laws. Generally, license suspension follows a person's conviction for driving under the influence or DUI. However, in some jurisdictions, conviction is not necessary for suspending license. According to ALS laws, licenses are suspended without criminal proceedings when:
- a drunken driver refuses to do blood testing or breath analysis test or;
- a driver's blood test indicates blood alcohol content above the statutory limit.
Sometimes, in lieu of a suspended license, the state issues a hardship license. A hardship license is a restricted license that permits the license owner to drive a motor vehicle during the period of license suspension to maintain the necessities of life or to earn a livelihood.
What does the term DUI mean?
DUI means driving under the influence. DUI is an act of driving under the influence of intoxication. Intoxication can be as a result of consuming alcohol or intoxicating drugs. Driving under the influence of intoxication leads to impaired driving, and hence is an offense. DUI offense is governed by state laws and differs from state to state. Some states refer to the offense of drunk driving as 'Operating Under the Influence' (OUI). Under some jurisdictions, the offense of DUI is also known as 'Driving While Intoxicated' (DWI) or 'Operating While Intoxicated' (OWI).
For a better understanding of the term DUI, you can refer to the DUI Guide and DUI Forms available on the US Legal Forms website.
When is a person charged with felony DUI?
DUI is an offense that can be charged as a serious felony or as a less serious misdemeanor. A DUI offender is charged with a felony DUI when:
- a driver's blood alcohol content is substantially higher than the statutory level; or
- a bodily harm is caused by the drunken driver; or
- there are multiple prior DUI convictions.
What is a BAC limit?
Blood alcohol content limit or BAC limit is the permitted statutory alcohol content limit in a person's blood beyond which a person will not be able to drive safely. Driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level in excess of the statutory limit is an offense. If a driver is found to have consumed alcohol above the statutory BAC limit, s/he may be charged with DUI. The BAC limit is fixed by state statutes. The BAC limit under most of the jurisdiction is fixed at 0.08% or above.
What are the different types of DUI tests?
A law enforcement officer cannot charge a person for DUI under suspicion alone. The officer should conduct certain tests called DUI tests on the suspect. The main types of DUI tests are:
- Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) - FSTs should be conducted according to the norms laid down by National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Such tests include walking some distance in a straight line, picking up an article from the ground by raising one leg, or counting backwards.
- Chemical tests - chemical tests include blood test, urine test, and breath test using a breathalyzer. Chemical tests are conclusive proof of a DUI offense.
What is a hardship license?
A hardship license is a license issued in lieu of a suspended license. It is a restricted license issued by an administrative authority to compensate for license suspension. During the period of license suspension, a hardship license permits a person to earn a livelihood. A hardship license is issued by an order of a court according to state statutes.
What is a motion in limine?
In DUI cases, an accused person can demand material evidence from the prosecution by filing a motion in limine. A motion in limine is a request in writing addressed to a judge to procure substantial evidence from the prosecution. A motion in limine is a constitutional right, and can be used both in civil and criminal proceedings.