If you are stopped for DUI or are facing DUI charges, you probably have a lot of questions about the DUI process and what your options may be. See below for a comprehensive list of DUI frequently asked questions.
What is a DUI?
DUI stands for driving under the influence, a law that prohibits driving a vehicle while intoxicated. In most states, any person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a particular limit - usually .08 percent or .10 percent - who is caught operating a motor vehicle may be charged with DUI. In addition, driving while under the influence of drugs (even prescription) may be considered a DUI. Other terms for driving under the influence include Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).
What should I do if my vehicle is stopped by a police officer and he asks me if I've been drinking?
While most DUI attorneys recommend that you act politely and give your name and ID documents to police, you should know that you are not required to answer any other questions. You have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to contact a lawyer before answering questions.
Should I undergo field sobriety testing?
Field sobriety tests commonly include “walk and turn,” “one leg stand,” the HGN or “pen light” test, and others. If you are stopped for suspected DUI, you should know that you are not required to submit to these tests. Many DUI lawyers believe that these tests have no scientific merit.
Do I have a right to speak to an attorney if am arrested for a DUI?
Absolutely. While you should cooperate with requests for identification and proof of insurance, and with breath or blood tests, you are not required to answer any questions or perform any field sobriety tests. Anything you say or do during the DUI stop can be used against you, so it’s best to contact a lawyer first.
What are the different tests for intoxication and is there one that is best?
There are three reliable methods for measuring a person's BAC: breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test. The breathalyzer is a portable machine with a tube extending out of it. The suspect blows into the tube, and the machine can give a measurement of the suspect's BAC based upon the alcohol in a single breath. The blood and urine tests are simply analyses of samples taken from or given by the suspect at the police station.
There is not one test that is best. Of the three, the blood test is usually regarded as the most accurate, the urine test the least; the urine test is often only used as a last resort. The breathalyzer, while usually fairly accurate, can give false readings if the person has recently imbibed alcohol. The blood and urine tests can be used to test for the presence of other drugs in the system, while the breathalyzer cannot.
Should I submit to a blood/urine test?
In general, most DUI lawyers recommend that you submit to breath, blood, and urine tests if requested by law enforcement during a DUI stop. Penalties for refusing these tests can sometimes be worse than penalties for a DUI. Contact your DUI lawyer for details.
Can I get my case dismissed if the police officer did not read the Miranda warning?
Law enforcement is required to advise you of your rights at the time of your arrest. On occasion, however, the police omit this requirement. While your case will not be automatically dismissed, a qualified DUI lawyer will fight to suppress any incriminating evidence obtained by police after failure to advise you of Miranda rights.
What is the legal blood alcohol limit?
Blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is an objective measure of how much alcohol is present in the body. BAC is considered a fair measure for everyone because it is expressed as a percentage, not a standard quantity. Someone with a BAC of 0.08 has alcohol making up eight-tenths of one percent of his or her blood, regardless of his or her size or weight. Different people can drink different amounts and still have the same BAC.
What happens if I am convicted of a DUI?
Penalties for DUI vary from state to state, and depend greatly on the circumstances of the offense: prior convictions, reckless driving, and other factors affect the outcome. Most states, though, have several means of penalizing DUI offenders. These include suspension/revocation of license, fine, and imprisonment. Many states have minimum sentences for a first, second or third conviction. It is best to contact a qualified DUI attorney to help you through the process.
How can a DUI lawyer help my case?
DUI lawyers are experts in this specialized area of the law. They have access to information, research, and legal techniques that other lawyers may not be aware of. DUI lawyers understand the system, and offer you a better chance to retain your freedom than you would have by representing yourself.
Are payment options available for attorneys' fees?
Many DUI lawyers understand that defending yourself against DUI charges isn’t something you budget for ahead of time. If you are hesitant to contact a DUI attorney due to cost, you should know that many offer flexible payment options. Contact a lawyer in your state for specific information about DUI attorney fees.