Is a DUI/DWI Charge a Criminal Offense or a Traffic Offense?

      Comments Off on Is a DUI/DWI Charge a Criminal Offense or a Traffic Offense?

Driving under the influence or DUI is a criminal offense of driving a motor vehicle with an alcohol level which exceeds the legal limit. This offense is also applicable when the offender operates a machine while intoxicated.

In some jurisdictions, a more rigid version of DUI is being implemented. In California, there are certain restrictions or prohibitions involving DUI. Minors, for example, cannot consume any alcohol, intoxicating substances and prescriptions when driving.

In some states, the alcohol level allowed by law is 0.05% to 0.08%. Each offender is subjected to a breath test wherein the blood alcohol level is measured by an instrument. If the offender is found to have a blood alcohol level which is in excess of that which is allowed by law, he shall then be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

However, not all jurisdictions consider DUI or DWI as a criminal offense such as in Wisconsin and New Jersey. In said states, DUI or DWI is considered only as traffic violation. This entails that the penalty imposable by law does not include imprisonment.

But, in most jurisdictions, DUI or DWI was already criminalized or treated as criminal offense. This means that the penalty shall not only include fine, suspension of license and community service but also imprisonment.

In California, the penalties differ based on the number of DUI offenses incurred by the respondent. If the respondent was arrested for his first offense, he shall be penalized with 4 days to 6 months imprisonment, $1400 to $2600 fine, 30 days to 10 months license suspension, and installation of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in all vehicles owned or driven by him.

If the offender was caught for his 2nd DUI violation, he will be merited with 10 days to 1 year imprisonment, fine of $1800 to $2800, two years license suspension and mandatory installation of Ignition Interlock Device. If the offender was caught for the third time, he will serve jail time for 120 days to 1 year, fine of $1800, license suspension for 3 years and installation of Ignition Interlock Device in all his vehicles.

The sentence imposed under the law, especially the prison term, is affected by several factors. One of which is the “look back period” of 10 years wherein the record of offenses committed by the offender shall be examined by the authorities. If the offender was caught for a second DUI violation within a period of ten years from the first DUI conviction, the court may impose the maximum sentence against him.

Drugged Driving Is Impaired Driving

If you appear to be impaired by the arresting officer, but your breathalyzer test shows that you are not under the influence of alcohol, he may suspect that you have been using drugs and this is impairing your driving ability. These include prescription and nonprescription medications in addition to illegal drugs. The officer can call a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to the scene—or he may be one himself—to perform a series of tests.2If the DRE officer’s multi-step evaluation process determines that you are indeed under the influence of drugs, you can be charged with DWI or DUI. The charge depends on what the state calls the offense of drugged driving.Taking prescription or nonprescription medications can impair your driving ability. You are at risk of drugged driving charges even when you have not had a sip of alcohol.

Consequences of an Impaired Driving Arrest

No matter what the offense is called in your jurisdiction, if you are arrested for impaired driving, you will be facing serious consequences.If you are convicted or plead guilty, you will probably lose your driver’s license and pay fines and court fees. For a second offense, you may spend some time in jail. It is also likely that you will be placed on probation and be required to perform community service. To get your driver’s license back, you will probably have to attend defensive driving classes.In most states, you will probably undergo an evaluation of your drinking or substance use patterns as well. Based on the results of that evaluation, you may have to take part in a drug or alcohol treatment program. That program could range from attending a few support group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous to entering a residential treatment facility.