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Drunk driving or driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) is an offense that takes place when an individual operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While various states have different names for drunk driving offenses, DUI is one of the most common ways that the offenses are referred to as a whole.
While federal law largely pertains to commercial drivers (for whom the legal BAC while driving is .04 or less), state laws are generally called on when infractions of the law come into play for the average citizen. Federal DUI laws can be levied if the offender is traveling through federally-owned lands, indigenous lands or crossing state lines, but the vast majority of drunk driving charges are meted out at the state level.
Driving while under the influence or DUI is a serious matter across the nation, including in Montana. This criminal offense may result in a number of serious penalties such as the loss of driving privileges, fines, mandatory counseling, or jail time. However, there effects of a DUI conviction can be felt outside the courtroom as well and may cause other issues in your day to day life. Accordingly, it is important for anyone facing a DUI charge in A Whitefish to work with a competent criminal defense attorney to protect their rights and mitigate any legal issues.
If so, it is imperative to immediately contact a A Whitefish: DUI lawyer who knows all the defenses that may be available to you. To violate DUI law, the blood-alcohol content must be at least .08 percent, and if it is higher than .14 you can be charged with extreme DUI. Alcohol content is determined by blood, breath, or urine tests. If you refuse to take one of those tests your driver’s license is automatically suspended.
A DUI conviction is punishable by license revocation, months in jail, or years in prison for repeat offenders and stiff fines.
Drunk driving can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. First-time offenders with no aggravating factors could be looking at a misdemeanor charge in most states. Repeat offenders, or offenders who commit DUI or DWI with aggravating factors, could find themselves facing felony charges.
Aggravating factors may include, but are not limited to: committing DUI with children in the car, speeding or reckless driving while under the influence, highly elevated BAC levels while measured (.08, .15 and above) or causing a serious injury or death as a result of driving while under the influence.
Yes, in many jurisdictions it is entirely possible to be charged with drunk driving even if parked. A conviction may depend on actual proof that you operated the vehicle while intoxicated.
Further, attempted DUI is a discrete charge in many states and as such, the burden of proof to establish this particular charge is much lower than with full DUI. Regardless of the situation, it is not advised that you enter the drivers’ seat of a car with a BAC higher than the established level in your state.
While BAC can be easily measured by the use of the breathalyzer or a number of other devices, it can be more difficult to prove intoxication by a number of other drugs, including cannabis (marijuana).
Where cannabis’ active ingredient (THC) stays in a human system for a number of weeks, false positives have proven particularly difficult for state prosecutors looking to secure convictions based on allegations of intoxicated driving. Newly deployed devices seek to circumvent this problem, but the matter remains legally contested in many jurisdictions.
Field sobriety tests, body cam evidence and other metrics are currently also used to judge whether or not a driver is impaired by drugs other than alcohol. In terms of legal repercussions, DUI laws are generally broad enough to encompass all activity where a driver is intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, and the sentencing is usually severe for both.
Those found guilty of DUI or DWI for drugs other than alcohol may face additional drug-related penalties (possession, trafficking, etc.) in some jurisdictions. Diversionary programs, or mandatory drug education programs may also be part of any punishment for drunk driving.
The length of time a DUI conviction will stay on your criminal record (different from your driving record that the DMV uses) depends on the state you live in. Some states will remove a DUI from your criminal record after five years, at which point, if you are arrested and convicted for DUI again, the system will treat you as a first-time offender. In other states, this could be 10 years. Other states do not do this at all, meaning the conviction will always be on your record, unless you can expunge it. A Whitefish criminal defense lawyer can better help you determine how long a Montana DUI conviction may stay on your record.
The amount of jail time you may receive at sentencing depends on a few factors. The first is the state that you live in. Some states have mandatory jail sentences (although in some it’s only a few days) for a first-time offender, while other states have no jail time for first-time offenders. Second, for each DUI conviction you receive, the odds of going to jail for a longer amount of time increase. Third, the amount of jail time you may receive can increase if there are any aggravating circumstances. One common example of an aggravating circumstance is the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system.
Many people jump to conclusions and plead guilty quickly to “move on” from the incident. However, pleading guilty to a DUI means having a criminal conviction on your record for years to come, which can have serious negative effects on your life. Instead, you should always consider discussing your case with A Montana criminal defense attorney before you ever make any decisions on pleading guilty.
A DUI conviction can mean spending time in jail, having to pay fines and court costs, and attending drunk driving classes or entering into rehab. It could also mean having to deal with the effects of a driver’s license suspension, which could affect your job. In short, the penalties are serious, and you should treat them seriously.
In legal practice, experience matters. An experienced attorney will likely have handled issues similar to yours many, many times. Therefore, after listening to your situation, the attorney should have a reasonable idea of the time line for a case like yours and the likely resolution.
Prepare for your consultation by writing down notes of your understanding of the case, jot down questions and concerns for the attorney, and gather your documents. Remember that you are trying to get a sense of whether the attorney has your trust and can help you address your legal issues. Questions should include how the attorney intends to resolve your issue, how many years he/she has been practicing law and specifically practicing in your area, as well as how many cases similar to yours the attorney has handled. It can also be helpful to broach the subject of fees so that you understand the likely cost and structure of your representation by a specific attorney and/or legal team.
Experience. Regardless of the type of legal matter you need help with, an experienced attorney will usually be able to get you better results.
Competence. Determine an attorney’s expertise by asking about their track record for the issue you need help with resolving.
Fit. There are plenty of good attorneys out there; make sure you find one you are comfortable working with.
Affidavit – A sworn written statement made under oath. An affidavit is meant to be a supporting document to the court assisting in the verification of certain facts. An affidavit may or may not require notarization.