What you need to know about DUI
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or both) is illegal. As to alcohol, it is also illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% percent or higher (irrespective of whether you are subjectively “under the influence”). Driving under the influence of drugs does involve a subjective determination as to being under the influence. There is a common misconception that if you are under the influence of a legal prescription drug, you are not committing a DUI. This is completely false. You can commit a DUI driving under the influence of any drug, legal or not.
A first, second or third DUI charge within 10 years is a misdemeanor. A fourth or subsequent DUI charge within 10 years is a felony. A DUI involving injury to any other person may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Generally, the factors which determine whether a DUI causing injury will be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor are:
- The severity of the injuries. Generally, “soft tissue” injuries are not considered serious enough to warrant felony charges.
- Whether it is a first or subsequent offense.
- Any other aggravating circumstances, such as hit and run, extremely high BAC, high speed, etc.
When you are charged with a DUI, two parallel legal processes begin. The Department of Motor Vehicles begins a process which is directed at suspending your driving privilege. You only have 10 calendar days from the date of arrest to initiate the process to challenge this action. It is imperative that you obtain legal counsel as soon as possible in order to ensure you do not miss the 10 day deadline. This procedure by the DMV is known as an “APS” (Administrative Per Se) suspension/revocation action. This action is independent of the criminal prosecution through the courts.
The other process which ensues is a criminal prosecution. Although this is a driving offense, it is not like a simple speeding ticket. The conviction is a misdemeanor (or felony) criminal conviction which remains on your record for life. The court has the power to sentence you to up to 6 months in jail for a first offense, 364 days in jail for a second or third offense and 3 years in jail for a felony (or more, if it involves serious bodily injury or death). Many people (mistakenly) fail to realize that this is a criminal matter and must be taken very seriously.
Wegman & Levin handles both parts of your DUI case– the DMV and the court. In many cases, our clients are able to avoid having to appear in court. Additionally, we offer financing to make the process as easy as possible.