DUI lawyers are a crucial part of the criminal justice system. They provide legal counsel to those who have been arrested for DUI and help them understand their rights and options.
A DUI conviction can lead to major consequences. It can result in fines, suspension of driving privileges, jail or prison time, probation, and other penalties. DUI lawyers are usually hired by the person who has been arrested for DUI, but in some cases, they are appointed by the court. Continue reading to learn more about DUI attorneys and convictions.
DUI Convictions and DUI Lawyers
The definition of “driving under the influence” varies in each state. These definitions make it clear to drivers about what is prohibited and what the prosecution must show in order to secure a DUI conviction in court.
However, all states’ DUI statutes have a similar fundamental framework and demand evidence that the offender was driving while impaired. These two elements of a DUI arrest aren’t always as simple as they might seem.
Every state has two categories of DUI laws: impairment laws and per se statutes. In other terms, you can be charged with DUI:
- based on whether you are actually impaired by alcohol or drugs, or
- if the level of drugs or alcohol in your system makes it a “per se” assumption that you are impaired.
Each state has its own definition of what constitutes being “under the influence.” Some jurisdictions demand evidence of a significant disability, while others merely want to see evidence of a minor impairment.
A blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8% or higher (.05% or higher in Utah) often qualifies as a per se DUI. Additionally, many states, including Washington, have per se laws against drug DUI. How DUI Lawyers Help You in DUI Convictions’ Consequences
DUI sentences vary by state. Most states treat first offenses as misdemeanors, but multiple offenses or other aggravating factors can lead to harsh punishments. Below are the consequences you can face when you need the help of DUI lawyers:
- Jail Time
First-time DUIs are misdemeanors in many states, so you won’t serve much time. In most first-offense DUI cases, the maximum jail sentence is six months. Some jurisdictions demand a minimum of one or two days. Many states mandate longer jail or prison time for aggravating conditions like a high blood alcohol content or a DUI collision with significant injuries. Second DUI arrests usually result in longer penalties. Felony DUIs that kill or harm others can result in lengthy prison sentences. In this case, you will also need the help of a personal injury lawyer.
2. Suspension or Revocation of a Driver’s License
In all states, the Department of Motor Vehicles or a judge’s order can suspend your license. The duration of the suspension is set by each state. If you’re a first-time offender, a restricted license can let you use an IID to drive to work, school, or rehab during the 90-day ban. Longer suspensions follow multiple DUI convictions. Licenses may be revoked for DUI offenders.
DUI lawyers can help you with fines because they can be costly. Even for a first infraction, states can fine between $500–$2,000 or more. Installing an ignition interlock device (IID) may be your responsibility. A driver must blow into a dashboard-mounted ignition interlock device to start the car if their blood alcohol concentration is above a specific level.
4. Alcohol abuse treatment
DUI sentences typically involve alcohol abuse treatment or education. These programs may diagnose or treat alcoholism. For a first time violation, this may be the main penalty coupled with probation, license suspension, and community service or victim compensation.
Why Hire DUI Lawyers
- They know the process.
They know how to defend you and probe witnesses to highlight the prosecution’s weaknesses. DUI lawyers excel at downplaying negatives and highlighting positives. They can damage the prosecution.
They also know when the defense can oppose the prosecution, whether to take notes, how to give jury instructions, how to debate scientific evidence, and more.
2. They can lessen court time.
As the defendant, you need not attend every hearing and procedure. DUI lawyers can represent you so that you can work or spend time with your family instead of being in court. Representing yourself requires constant attendance.
3. They can help in negotiating plea deals.
Avoiding a DUI jury trial may be beneficial. Your lawyer can negotiate the best settlement with the prosecutor if you’re convicted. If it’s your first offense, your attorney may recommend alcohol education, counseling, or community service to keep you out of jail and for you to keep your license.
4. They can select the best jury.
DUI cases hinge on jury selection. When choosing jurors, skilled DUI lawyers will know what to look for. This involves years of practice, and if you choose a jury yourself, you may not notice a potentially harmful choice. You cannot risk that.
5. They can help you attain lighter sentences.
If you lose your case, DUI lawyers will know what to say and do in order to get you a sentence that is less severe than what the law would propose. A modest sentence may be seen as a victory if you are found guilty of the DUI offense. Picture having to just successfully finish an alcohol treatment program or complete a specific number of hours of community service. In that case, you might avoid going to jail or be allowed to keep your license.
DUI Victim Lawyers and Personal Injury Lawyers
There are certain areas of emphasis for attorneys who defend victims who have been harmed. For instance, some personal injury attorneys assist workplace accident victims, while others represent vehicle accident victims. It is ideal for plaintiffs in personal injury cases to work with attorneys who have previously handled and won similar cases.
If you were hurt by a drunk driver, you should deal with a personal injury claim attorney who has previously represented DUI victims, instead of someone who specializes in a different area of law. A personal injury lawyer who has experience with drunk driving cases will be in the best position to advise you of your rights, about insurance for personal injury, and on what to expect in court.
Both the drunk driver and the victim are entitled to their respective attorneys as part of their rights. How justice is served will speak for the lawyer’s expertise and the truth of the accident.