Drunk driving is a serious offense in all states because it puts your life in danger and the lives of others on the road. There are many strict laws surrounding driving under the influence that include heavy fines and time in jail and a disgrace on your record for the time to come. If you are caught driving under the influence by a law enforcement officer, you can face serious criminal charges.
On the other hand, if you suffer damages and injuries due to a driver’s negligence driving under the influence, you are eligible for compensation. So in both cases, you need to know what to do and why hiring and consulting with an experienced lawyer is essential.
What is the seriousness of driving under the influence and its arrest?
If you are convicted of driving intoxicated or facing a charge due to it, you may wonder how serious these charges are and this arrest. There are various terms used to label drunk driving, and these are driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or operating while intoxicated (OWI).
The legal limit for driving after drinking is 0.08 % blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This legal limit of driving under the influence is much lower for drivers below the legal age and commercial drivers. Moreover, driving after consuming illegal drugs is also illegal. So those who are convicted of driving under the influence can have various serious consequences, including financial and criminal. It may even result in your
What is DUI considered as, and what are drivers charged with?
Driving under the influence is considered a criminal offense with grave consequences. Drivers can be held accountable if they refuse to cooperate with a law enforcement officer and take a breath or chemical test when pulled over on the road. Drivers may have to pay heavy fines, lose their driver’s license, and even face criminal penalties like spending time in jail. People who get convicted for driving charges similar to DUI can also face these penalties.
Charge for a first offense
According to law, the first offense of a DUI is a serious misdemeanor. This means that people convicted or charged with DUI may have to spend time in jail, ranging from some days to a year. They may also be ordered to pay fines that amount to more than $1000.
Charge for a second offense
The second offense is categorized as an aggravated misdemeanor. This means the fines will be much more and jail time for a longer period.
Charged for felonies
Being charged with a felony means that license may be suspended or annulled, be given long jail time, and even heavy fines of thousands of dollars. Drivers driving under the influence can be charged with a felony:
- If this is their third DUI offense
- If the driver was drunk driving with a child in the vehicle
- If their BAC is much greater than the legal limit
- If they were the cause of a serious accident resulting in injuries or death of another person
You may be wondering whether your employment will be affected if you are convicted of a DUI. However, in other states driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a traffic violation, which will not result in jail time unless it results in property damage or fatalities.
But just being arrested for drunk driving will not affect your job. However, being arrested for a DUI will be included in your criminal record, and you may have trouble when searching for new jobs in the future. Since some employers do a background check on the person, they want to hire.
Moreover, some employers will care more about your DUI arrests than other employers depending upon the job. For instance, the employers hiring for government jobs, childcare, or commercial driving will take your criminal record seriously. You need to prepare yourself to talk with your employer, especially if you have a job in these fields. But are there ways to scratch off the DUI offense from your record?
Yes, there is. a DUI offense can be deleted from your criminal record through a legal process known as expunging. This process depends upon the seriousness of your conviction and your DUI record. To get your offense deleted from your record, you need to fill an application and pay court fees to file the paperwork. This process is costly and can take a long time. In some areas, this process requires a public hearing, while in others, a judge grants it.
What happens after you are convicted?
Where there are laws and law enforcement agencies, you are bound to get caught someday if you do not abide by the rules. Similar is the case with drunk driving. Found driving under the influence means paying heavy fines, revocation of license, and even long periods of time in jail. But if you have been caught and want to get back on the road like a responsible citizen, then you can get your ignition interlock device, also known as breath alcohol ignition interlock device that is a breathalyzer installed in the convicted driver’s vehicle.
The driver needs to blow into the mouthpiece in the ignition interlock device before they can start the vehicle. For this, usually, you will have to fill out an application and pay the fees after your license is suspended. If your application is approved for an ignition interlock device license, then you can get this device installed and be able to get back on the road.
What are the benefits of having a DUI lawyer by your side?
When you are charged or convicted for DUI, your prosecutor will offer you a deal in case you agree to plead guilty. Usually, this plea gives a defendant get favorable punishment. But since the prosecutors are not handling the case in favor of you when they offer this deal. So it’s essential that you have an experienced lawyer by your side as soon as possible to lower the risks of getting maximum penalties. There are various benefits that come with hiring a DUI lawyer, including:
- Assist you in evaluating the facts of your case and in preparing for your defense.
- Legally represent you at the hearing in court.
- Represent you in court without you having to be physically present in cases of misdemeanor.
- Ensure you get as a minimum charge as possible.
- They ensure you get a more lenient punishment.
Consulting with a lawyer is essential in all cases, whether you are the defendant or not. Your lawyer can help you look at all the options you have and may even find a way out of a difficult case. Spending time with your lawyer in building a strong defense, you and your lawyer may be able to dismiss key evidence presented by your prosecutor and thus negotiate in getting a lighter punishment.
In these cases, usually, the prosecution will then offer you a better deal. Your charge may be reduced so that you will not have a criminal offense of DUI on your record, and you may also be allowed to keep your license. Hiring a lawyer who is well-versed in DUI cases can help you get what you want. But what happens when you are on the other side of the accident? If you are not a drunk driver but involved in a crash because of a drunk driver, what should you do?
Injury in a drunk driving accident
So what happens if you get injured due to a drunk driver? If you have been abiding by the rules and driving carefully, but another driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol caused injury and damage to you.
Even though there are strict laws surrounding DUI, as you read earlier, law enforcement officers try to catch drunk drivers before they cause accidents, but they cannot catch every one of them, and some do end up evading police and causing traffic collisions.
So if you or your loved one is injured in an accident, you should know your rights. When you suffer injuries and damages due to the negligence of someone else, you can hold them liable for the damages. The damages that you can recover compensation for includes:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses include hospitalization and medical bills, and future medical care.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Permanent disability
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship
The amount of your loss depends on the severity of your injuries and the damages you sustained. An experienced and skilled Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Houston, TX, will assist you in calculating the damages and the amount of compensation you are eligible to. Usually, the drunk driver is convicted and charged with their crime.
This does little in compensating you for your damages and injuries. So this is why it’s essential that you make a separate claim or insurance claim to get the compensation you deserve.
Why is a lawyer important?
It is important for you to discuss your case with an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer. They know how devastating drunk driving accidents are, and they can help you and your loved one get the compensation you deserve. They will lay out the legal options you have and how you can pursue a claim for your injuries and damages.
Read Also: How to prove negligence of the driver.
They can negotiate with insurance companies if needed on your behalf. So contact an experienced and skilled lawyer today.
Hello, My name is Shari & I am a writer for the ‘Outlook AppIns’ blog. I’m a CSIT graduate & I’ve been working in the IT industry for 3 years.