Across the USA, Drunk Driving is referred to differently in the laws of different states. This makes understanding the different types of alcohol-related driving infractions a bit more difficult than it really has to be. For example, in some states you are given a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and in others you could be given a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). Some states even refer to this legally as OUI (Operating Under the Influence).
No matter what they call it, a drunk driving infraction is one of the most serious driving offenses you can be held accountable for across the country. This is because drunk driving related accidents account for more than 33% of the total driving-related fatalities. States have cracked down on these numbers with steep penalties, fines, and even jail time.
No matter what state you are in, there are three basic types of drunk driving infractions:
Let’s break each of these down to understand them a little better:
The legal meaning of “Driving Under the Influence”
This is the most common type of drunk driving infraction. It basically means you were under the influence of alcohol and operating a vehicle. To get a basic DUI conviction, prosecutors must prove:
Defense against such charges is difficult, especially without a qualified and experienced DUI attorney-at-law to represent you. You could defend yourself in various ways – perhaps claiming you had been forced to switch seats with the driver before police arrived. Another way to argue this charge is to try to prove that the alcohol you had consumed that day was not actually in your blood stream at the time you were driving.
The legal meaning of “Driving While Blood Alcohol is .08% or Higher”
This is a slightly different charge than the basic DUI. Here, the question about how you are operating the vehicle no longer matters. Even if you were following all safety laws and had made no infractions, you can still be charged with driving with a BAC higher than .08%. Such a conviction requires proof of the following:
Typically, this type of charge is on the table when a DUI charge is brought against you. This gives them two ways to convict you: (1) either you were driving improperly or (2) BAC is high enough. No matter how well you were driving you cannot use this as an argument to prevent a conviction for this particular type of DUI. This is why it is of vital importance to make sure you are well-represented by a proven-successful DUI trial attorney. The penalties for a traditional DUI and for one with a BAC above the legal limit tend to be nearly the same from state to state.
The legal meaning of a “Felony” DUI or DWI
In some cases, a DUI charge can carry a Felony charge with it. Though most are misdemeanors, when the right (or wrong as it were) set of circumstances can bump the charge up. For example, if a driver is under the influence and they cause a wreck in which a fatality occurred, they could face a Felony DUI charge. In many states, a third or fourth DUI conviction also becomes a felony charge as well. In this case, it doesn’t matter if anyone was hurt or even if there was an accident.
Though you should seek quality legal representation before facing any DUI charge, the need to find a skilled, and experienced DUI attorney is greatest when facing a Felony DUI charge. The penalties are that much more severe, the district attorney will be that much more motivated to seek out a conviction, and you really need someone with experience who won’t be rattled and will be able to argue your case for you. Make sure you find a proven-successful attorney who you trust before facing any DUI charge in a court of law.
Still have questions?
Please call us for a free appointment with Miami business attorney Yoel Molina in our Miami office at 305-548-5020.