You’ve had a rough day at work, so decide to swing by your favorite bar for a few happy hour cocktails. After your second Moscow Mule, your worries are beginning to slip away, so you decide it’s a good time to head home. You’re a bit tipsy, but not so drunk that you can’t drive, so you jump in your car and start cruising down the interstate, listening to your favorite 80s rock radio station. Everything in the world seems peaceful for one glorious moment until you see the flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror and your stomach drops.
Each year, more than one million Americans are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or while intoxicated (DWI). This seemingly vast number is just a mere one percent of the 111 million Americans that admit to driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While it seems like most adults are able to confidently drive after a few drinks, these DUI incidents result in over 10,000 preventable deaths each and every year. This is why the consequences for being caught while driving under the influence have become so severe.
How Drunk Do You Have to be for Conviction?
In America, you can receive two different types of DUI charges. A “per se DUI” conviction is given to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.8 percent or more while operating a motor vehicle. Alternatively, a person can be convicted of “per se DUI” for driving under the influence of controlled substances—for example, driving with more than 0.2 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood.
The second kind of charge, “impairment DUIs” is based on how the substance affects the driver. Since states use assorted standards on what constitutes being “under the influence,” this definition can vary. In some states, this could simply defined as driving while “substantially impaired,” while in other states you would have to have proof that the substance had effect on the driver.
How Do Officers Prove if You’re Under the Influence?
Like with any charge, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. Just because you’re pulled over while intoxicated doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to prison. If an officer assumes you are driving while intoxicated, they will probably use sobriety and chemical tests to determine your BAC. These could include blood or urine or blood testing, walk-and-turn, one-leg stands or breathalyzers.
When pulled over, you will fall under most states’ “implied consent” laws that requires all suspected drivers to submit to an officer’s request for DUI testing (usually of breath or blood). Refusing the officer’s request could lead to license suspension, and is usually a surefire way to prove your guilt.
DUI or DWI charges can become complex very quickly since each case varies based on situation, state, BAC and more. If you’ve been convicted, you should consider hiring a DUI lawyer, like a Civic Center San Francisco, CA DUI lawyer from Hallinan Law Firm, to help you review your case and represent you when you appear in court.