Drunk Driving Defense During and After a Stop

What is the legal blood alcohol concentration limit?

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit across the United States is 0.08 percent. If your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or over, you will be considered as intoxicated.

Is the legal blood alcohol concentration same for all drivers?

While the blood alcohol concentration for ordinary drivers is 0.08 percent, for commercial drivers, it is 0.04 percent. There are rules that prohibit the operation of a commercial vehicle within four hours of alcohol consumption. All states have implemented “zero-tolerance” laws toward inebriated teen drivers. Zero-tolerance laws implements lower Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits for drivers under 21, i.e. underage drivers. Generally, this limit is fixed at the minimum and can be easily and reliably detected by a breath testing device (i.e., .01–.02 BAC). Zero-tolerance laws often invoke other penalties including automatic suspension or revocation of driver’s license. In most states a person under 21 will be charged with DUI/DWI if his or her blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 percent. However in some states, even a drop of alcohol in the system is sufficient for an underage DUI/DWI charge.

Is intoxication necessary for a DUI offense?

All states have per se DUI/DWI laws. This means that you will be considered intoxicated if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more. Under the per se DUI/DWI laws, the level of intoxication is insignificant for proving the offense. You may be someone who has a great capacity to consume alcohol and yet remain sober but under the per se DUI/DWI laws, if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or more, you will be considered intoxicated. It doesn’t matter whether you are absolutely sober or not.

How do the police determine you are driving under the influence?

First, the police observe signs of erratic driving. Then they will pull you over and observe you for signs of intoxication such as smell of alcohol, slurred speech, lack of coordination in your movement, reddish eyes, etc. If they notice such signs, they will ask you to perform a field sobriety test. If you fail the field sobriety test, you will be asked to take a breath analyzer test. If your breath analyzer result shows a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or over, then you will be taken to the police station and asked to submit yourself to a chemical test. Depending on your state law, the chemical test is either a blood test or a urine test.

Can I refuse any of these tests?

You can refuse a field sobriety test and the breath analyzer tests. If you refuse the field sobriety tests, you will be asked to take a breath analyzer test. Objecting to a breath analyzer test will result in automatic suspension of your driver’s license. The period of suspension will depend on your state law. Sometimes, you’ll be imposed a fine in addition to license suspension. In some states, if you have a prior DUI/DWI conviction and you refuse a breath analyzer test, you can be sent to jail.

You cannot refuse the chemical test. If you refuse a chemical test, the police can use reasonable force to conduct the test. You can be physically restrained and a sample can be drawn from you for the test. All states have implied consent laws which state that when you drive a vehicle you give consent to subject yourself to the chemical test.

Can I consult with a lawyer before I take a chemical test?

In most states, you will not be allowed to consult with a lawyer before subjecting yourself to a chemical test. However, a few states such as Arizona allow you to consult your lawyer before agreeing to a chemical test.

Do the police have to read the Miranda Rights if they have arrested me for DUI/DWI?

If you are in custody, i.e. you have been informed by the police that you have been arrested, then the police must read the Miranda Rights. However not reading the Miranda Rights will not make your DUI/DWI arrest invalid. The only thing it does is that the police cannot use anything you have told them as evidence against you unless they have read out the Miranda Rights.

What is a sobriety check point and are they valid?

The police departments in most states use DUI/DWI stops or check points as part of their strategy against drunk driving. The Supreme Court have made it  legal but  laid down certain requirements. The stops or check points must be well publicized. Every driver must have an equal chance of being stopped and checked for DUI/DWI. The police department must be able to justify the selection of the location for the stop or check point. Some states do not allow the use of sobriety check points.

Should I hire a lawyer to fight the DUI charges against me?

Unless you are an expert in the law, you should hire an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer to fight the charges against you. If convicted, you can be sent to jail.

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