What is DUI / DWI Law?

It is a crime in every state for a motorist to operate a vehicle while impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs, including prescription medications. Depending on the state, the offense is called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or a similar term. Even if evidence of blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) shows impairment, a good DUI lawyer may seek to have the case dismissed or the charges reduced. Also, attorneys often negotiate for lesser sentences and treatment diversion programs.

Upon conviction of a DUI, you will receive some sort of criminal sentence (such as community service, a fine, even jail) and your driver's license likely will be suspended or revoked, depending on the severity and whether it is a first offense. Your attorney may be able to help you obtain driving privileges with the condition of using an ignition interlock device (IDD) or the court's permission to drive to and from work.

Terms to Know

  • Implied Consent: In every state, motorists consent to a police stop and BAC test as a condition of receiving a driver's license. Failure to submit to a BAC test breaks this agreement and results in a driver's license suspension.
  • Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC): The concentration of alcohol in one's bloodstream, which is used to determine a motorist's level of alcohol impairment.
  • Drug Recognition Experts: Officers specially trained to determine the drug impairment of a DUI suspect.
  • DUI Checkpoints: Roadblocks set up by police, typically along busy roadways during New Year's Eve and other alcohol-related events, in which motorists and checked for impairment at random.

When You May Need a DUI Attorney

Drunk or impaired driving is taken seriously by courts, particularly since it can be so deadly to other motorists. Therefore, the stakes of a DUI case are quite high. Those convicted of a DUI usually lose their license for a certain period of time, pay a hefty fine, and sometimes serve time in jail (especially if it is a repeat offense). Even if your DUI lawyer is unable to dismiss the case, he or she may be able to reduce the sentence or otherwise provide for a softer landing.

Legal representation is rarely cheap, but a skilled DUI lawyer should be able to help you with the outcome of your case. To learn more about how a DUI attorney may help your case, see Hire a DUI Lawyer and Get Legal Help with a DUI.

Related Practice Areas

If you have been charged with a driving under the influence, contact a skilled DUI attorney in your area.

Next Steps

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