DUI, popularly called drunk driving, refers to “Driving Under The Influence.” Basically, it is operating a motor-powered vehicle with a blood level of alcohol which is above the legal limits established by statute. Supposedly, such levels are set the amount of alcohol at which an individual cannot drive safely. Statutes vary, but the levels range from .08 to .10.
Regardless of how common it may seem, driving under the influence is a serious criminal charge. Drivers do not realize that under the influence of alcohol their reactions and reflexes are impaired, which puts their lives and those of so many people at risk. Even if you took just a drink and consider yourself in full capacity, an accident may occur, and someone may result severely injured. That would probably put you in jail or make you face hefty fines. Not to mention that you will most likely lose your driving permit for some time.
If this is your first offense, you BAC (blood alcohol level) was not particularly high, and there were no injuries you have high chances of pleading guilty – or no contest- and be subject to administrative penalties.
However, if any of the following factors are present in your case, seeking the legal assistance of a DUI attorney is the best you can do for yourself:
- Your BAC was high, and the officer noticed evidence of impairment (smell, slurred speech, erratic driving, etc.)
- If you have chances for a plea bargain. Unless yours is a certain win case for the prosecution, the state may accept a plea. To avoid going to trial, the court may take a plea to a lesser charge. You will need an experienced lawyer to negotiate with the prosecution who might get you a reckless driving charge, the lesser you may expect.
- If this is your second or third DUI, you have most chances of landing in prison for some months or years. However, a good lawyer could negotiate with the prosecution to noticeably reduce the sentence if you plead guilty.
- If as a result of your drunk driving an accident occurred and people got injured or killed, there is obviously no need to explain to you how crucial hiring a lawyer will be to try to obtain the lesser possible sentence!
A DUI attorney works in a very particular legal area, although he is prepared and licensed to practice in all legal aspects. However, it is always best to select a specialist in this field. The costs of handling a DUI charge will vary a lot. That will depend not only on the experience of the DUI attorney but also on the area of practice, and on the severity and complexity of your case. Many DUI lawyers offer a first free consultation. You should take advantage of that and expose your situation, find out what you could expect, and get an idea of the legal charges you would have to face.