DWI / DUI Information

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What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI?

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) refers specifically to a person suspected of consuming alcohol while driving. Many times, a person cannot be deemed intoxicated by physical appearance alone. Consequently, many people have chosen to use the phrase, 'under the influence' when speaking of drunk driving. All states enforce strict regulation regarding this issue. A blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 or higher is enough to convict someone of DWI.

Driving under the influence (DUI) describes someone driving while using any substance that impairs one's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Usually, this term takes into account drug use while driving. However, many people convicted of this crime use drugs in conjunction with alcohol while driving. These people pose the most dangers to themselves and those around them. While a breathalyzer test can detect BAC levels, it cannot trace chemical substances in the blood. Instead, officers must conduct chemical exams, including blood, urine, and saliva tests.

Can a Person Refuse Chemical or Breathalyzer tests?

A person has the right to refuse all testing related to drugs and alcohol. However, there are risks associated with this decision. A police officer should always explain your rights in terms of testing. At roadside, you have the right to refuse all testing until after you have spoken with legal representation. At this point, you are arrested by police officers, and at the station, they will provide you with an additional opportunity to take the tests. Should you refuse a second time, your license is automatically suspended indefinitely.

There are a number of reasons why a person may refuse the test. The subject may be acting irrationally or he or she may not have fully understood his or her rights when the police officer described them. The suspect's attorney may encourage him or her to refuse the testing, seeing it as advantageous in court. Prosecutors typically rely heavily on data obtained from these tests to force convictions. If no evidence is maintained other than observational accounts, it is more difficult to prove someone's guilt. Lastly, an attorney may direct a client to refuse testing if he or she already knows the subject is guilty of DUI or DWI. If testing reveals BAC levels are well above the legal limits, the driver is likely to face harsher punishments. On the other hand, if no such evidence exists, the attorney may be able to negotiate sentencing terms and settlements. All cases revolve around the fact that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Based on extenuating circumstances, this may prove to be more difficult than one would assume.

What Kinds of Punishments Might Someone Face If Convicted of DWI or DUI?

Punishments a person is subjected to depend on the degree of damages, injuries, and past criminal history. First, the individual's license is suspended for an amount of time determined by his or her state of residence. The person is likely to be subjected to fees from drug and alcohol testing, processing of paperwork, and tickets obtained. A court may also require the driver to take defensive driving courses. If it is not a first offense, the person may be required to serve jail time. The judge is also likely to require the installation of a ignition interlock device. Essentially, this is a breathalyzer tool installed on the person's car. Every time he or she needs to use the vehicle, the person must blow into the breathalyzer. If BAC levels are within legal limits, the person is able to use the car. If levels are too high, the ignition is locked, making the vehicle unusable until the person is sober enough to drive. These have proven to be useful tools for keeping hazardous drivers off the road. However, the main objective is to help people take stronger initiatives to drive safely.

In the event another person is killed as a result of your negligence, you may be facing more serious consequences. A court may convict you of manslaughter if your actions resulted in the death of a innocent bystander. Moreover, damage fees may be the least of your worries, as you are placed behind bars. If injuries are obtained from accidents involving DUI or DWI, you may also be subjected to additional restitution.

Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is a serious matter, not to be taken lightly. Convictions such as these are damaging to your reputation, making it difficult to find work, transportation, and peace of mind. If you have been involved in an accident or have been convicted of this crime, contact an attorney immediately to review your case. Attempting to take matters into your own hands can further damage your credibility, so get in touch with someone experienced in the field to handle these processes on your behalf.


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