Recently we had a driver on our DUI forum ask what penalties and fines they might face if they are arrested for a West Virginia DUI.
Recently we had a driver on our DUI forum ask what penalties and fines they might face if they are arrested for a West Virginia DUI.
It is not uncommon for many drunk drivers to want to plead guilty at the arraignment, which is the court date where you will receive the formal charge for your drunk driving case and the state will formally accuse you of a crime. While this may seem like the most expedient way to get the DUI case behind you, most DUI lawyers agree this may not be the best resolution to your DUI case.
It is illegal in every state to operate a motorized vehicle with a BAC or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. Drivers under the age of 21 can be arrested with a BAC of 0.02% or higher and commercial drivers can be arrested and charged with a BAC with 0.04% or higher. If you are arrested for a Pasadena DWI you need to talk to a DWI lawyer.
As expected, more drivers have been arrested for drunk driving on the highways over the Thanksgiving weekend. Orange County police officers and other California highway patrol officers noted that by Saturday DUI arrest were up an estimated 16 percent over last year to 44 DUI arrest compared with an estimated 37 arrests which were made in Orange County in 2011.
On our DUI forum we recently had a question from a driver who had been arrested for DUI or driving under the influence but wanted to know why the offense was considered a second DUI and not a first DUI if their first arrest had been in 2005.
This is a great question and what this really refers to is the look back period or washout period for a DUI conviction. A look back period is the period of time that a judge or prosecutor can consider a prior DUI when they are determine whether the driver’s penalties will be enhanced for a recent DUI arrest. The goal of the washout or look back period is to determine whether the driver should be considered a “high risk” driver and if they are likely to have multiple DUI arrests in the future.
Driving in the state of Michigan is a privilege. If you are arrested for OWI or drunk driving the police officer has the legal right to ask you to submit to a chemical testing or a blood alcohol content test (BAC). Drivers who refuse to submit to the test will face not only criminal drunk driving penalties but also civil penalties.
If you are arrested for drunk driving in the state of Michigan and you refuse to submit to the blood alcohol content test your license can be suspended by the Michigan Department of Secretary of State (DSS). This suspension is a result of violating Michigan’s Implied Consent Laws. Challenges to the administrative hearing can be made within 14 days of your drunk driving arrest.
What if you do not challenge the administrative license suspension? You will have your license automatically suspended.
The administrative proceeding is a civil procedure, and it is not related in any way to your impending criminal case. Consider, however, that the burden of proof is much lower than it will be at your criminal trial. The state needs only to prove that you are guilty through a preponderance of evidence.
Keep in mind, it is up to the state to prove their case through statements, reports and testimony by the arresting officer. You also must attend the hearing. If you do not attend or you are late you may automatically lose your case.
Many drivers hire OWI lawyers to fight the implied consent suspensions because it allows them a chance to hear the state’s evidence against their client and may help them build a stronger case to defend them at their criminal trial.
Drivers who do not request an administrative license review after their drunk driving arrest and who did not consent to the blood alcohol concent test will have their license suspended. The amount of time for the suspension after the OWI arrest will depend on whether this is the driver’s first or second refusal.
Automatic suspensions for blood alcohol concentration test refusals are one year for the first OWI arrest and 2 years for refusing the second blood alcohol content test within a seven year period. Drivers may be able receive a hardship license for a first blood alcohol content test refusal, but they will have to make their appeal to the Circuit Court and the appeal is not always successful.
Many Michigan drivers do not realize that although the issues discussed at both the administrative hearing and the criminal trial may be the same, the two cases have nothing to do with the each other.
For instance, if at the administrative hearing the court determines that the drunk driving arrest was legal, this does not mean the same conclusion will be reached at the criminal drunk driving trial. Additionally, even if you win your administrative hearing, this does not mean that you will not ultimately be convicted of a Michigan drunk driving charge and you will have to face additional drunk driving criminal penalties and fines.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in New York you might be wondering if the state has a good DUI case against you or if there is a chance that the charges might be dropped. There are several considerations which should be discussed with your drunk driving lawyer.
The first thing to consider is whether the office had probable cause to make the DUI stop. For example, if you were driving erratically, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic or running red lights the state can argue that a reasonable person could assume that you were impaired by drugs or alcohol and the police officer had probable cause for your drunk driving arrest
If you were stopped at a random DUI checkpoint and displayed no signs of impairment, the state will have a more difficult time proving probable cause.
Many drivers are arrested for drunk driving but they are not actually physically driving the car. If you have been arrested but you can prove you did not have actual physical control of the car you might can have your DUI case dismissed.
In some states actual physical control can be established if the driver is in the car or on the car and they have the capability to drive the car (keys in their pocket or in the ignition or the car is running).
If the state can prove that the police officer had probable cause to make a drunk driving arrest, you were in actual physical control of the car and your blood alcohol content level was above the illegal limit of 0.08% than they have a strong case against you (assuming the state can prove that the blood alcohol content test was administered correctly).
If, however, you are able to complete all field sobriety tests and the blood alcohol content test registers a low blood alcohol concentration than the state’s case is not as strong.
Breathalyzer tests can be challenged in a variety of ways. Many machines have been found to be unreliable. If for instance your breathalyzer test and the chemical test at the police station show a wide discrepancy in your blood alcohol content this can weaken the state’s drunk driving case.
The first thing to do is talk to a drunk driving lawyer. Discuss the topics in this blog and determine how strong the state’s case is against you. If you live in the state of New York and you have had a drunk driving conviction in the last 10 years, this will be your second DUI.
For a second New York drunk driving conviction you will be charged with a Class E Felony. You can expect to pay $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, have your license revoked for at least one year and the court will require an installation of an ignition interlock device and alcohol assessment classes. Jail terms range from 5 days (unless allowed to perform 30 days of community service) up to four years.
South Dakota considers driving a privilege and under South Dakota’s Implied Consent Laws drivers may face “administrative” penalties from the South Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles, which is a separate process from punishments following a criminal conviction for drunk driving in South Dakota, even if they are not convicted of drunk driving.
In South Dakota there is a mandatory punishment for all drivers who refuse to take the blood alcohol content test or who take the test and have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which is above the maximum amount legally allowed in South Dakota (0.08%).
Penalties assesses by the Department of Motor Vehicles for a first time drunk driving offense is a 30 day license suspension. If a driver is arrested a second time they are facing a one year South Dakota License suspension, and third time drunk driving offenders can face a 3 year license suspension.
Drivers who refuse to submit to chemical testing will have their license suspended for one year even if they are not legally intoxicated. The license revocation typically starts on the 120th day following the South Dakota drunk driving arrest although the arresting officer will generally confiscate the driver’s license at the time of the DUI arrest.
Talk to a DUI lawyer about your DUI arrest to find out how to contest your license suspension through an Administrative Hearing. Hearings to challenge the license suspension can be requested within a specified time after the drunk driving arrest.
Drivers who lose at the Administrative License Hearing have the right to file an appeal, but they will have to continue to serve out the suspension until the court concludes their DUI case (qualifying drivers may be able to request and acquire a Limited Driving Privilege license).
What if you lose at the appeal level? You will have to serve out the remaining time of your license suspension. Following your license suspension you may request a license reinstatement.
If you win at the Administrative License Hearing or at the appeal level, your license will be given back to you.
As mentioned above, the Administrative License Suspension is just the first step in the penalties you can face after a drunk driving arrest. If you are convicted of drunk driving in South Dakota you may also face the following criminal penalties:
Do not drive with a suspended license. This can be considered a criminal offense and depending on the number of previous DUI convictions you have had in the past, you could face mandatory jail time.
Many Florida drivers, who have been arrested for drunk driving, ask about how they can get the drunk driving charge reduced to reckless driving. Drunk driving in Florida is a very serious charge and will remain on your Florida driving record for many years.
Drunk driving charges may also carry a social stigma and jeopardize future employment opportunities. Additionally, drivers who are arrested a second time for a drunk driving charge may be considered a first-time offender if their previous DUI arrest was reduced to reckless driving. A drunk driving charge also may not allow you to get your record sealed or expunged.
Obviously, there are many benefits to having a drunk driving charge reduced to a reckless driving charge, but what are the benefits for the state or the prosecutor and why would they be willing to make this agreement?
Hiring a drunk driving lawyer can significantly increase your chances of having your drunk driving charge lowered to a reckless driving charge. Drunk driving lawyers are able to investigate your drunk driving arrest and decide if there are issues with the prosecutor’s case.
Whether or not your charges may be reduced will depend on what evidence is admissible, the legality of the traffic stop, if the breath test was accurate and performed correctly, whether the breathalyzer machine was calibrated correctly, whether the field sobriety test was performed correctly, if the police report is accurate and the strength of the video evidence.
If any of the evidence is questionable or if the strength of the prosecution’s case is low, the prosecutor may be willing to reduce the drunk driving charge to reckless driving.
A good drunk driving lawyer will spend time interviewing the driver to make sure they clearly understand the arrest. They will begin to develop a clear defense. Questions they may ask the driver include:
Generally, the first goal of the DUI lawyer is to have the case dismissed, but if this seems unlikely, the DUI attorney will then begin to look for evidence to have the charges reduced.
Many drivers have the misconception that if they get their drunk driving charges reduced to reckless driving they will not have the same penalties or fines. This may not be true. If you are convicted of drunk driving you may have some of the same penalties: suspended license, fees, alcohol evaluation and education classes, and community service.
What you won’t have is the stigma of a drunk driving conviction. Employers most likely will not fire you and you may not have difficulty getting future jobs. Additionally, as mentioned above, if you are arrested a second time for drunk driving it will be your first next second drunk driving charge.
Texas drivers arrested for drunk driving in the state of Texas can generally get an occupational license which will allow them to operate a non-commercial motorized vehicle if they have had their license suspended.
The Texas Department of Public Safety allows an occupational license to be used “in connection with a person’s occupation, for educational purposes or in the performance of essential household duties.” Drivers who have had their license suspended for drunk driving are barred from driving for any other reason.
If you would like to apply for an occupational license after a Texas drunk driving arrest you must make your request for the occupational license in the district court in the county of your residence or in the court (who has jurisdiction) where the drunk driving offense occurred.
Remember, even if the court has provided you with the court order granting you the right to get an occupational license, you must first submit the court order along with the other requirements to the Department of Issuance of an Occupational License. DPS recognizes that it will take a few days to get your occupational license, and you can use the court order for 30 days while the Texas Department of Public Safety processes your request.
Note: Rules for obtaining a commercial license vary. Contact the Texas Department of Public Safety if you have questions about how to reinstate your Texas commercial license after a drunk driving arrest in Texas.
Mail all forms to:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Central Cash Receiving
P.O. Box 15999
Austin TX 78761-5999
Texas also offers some drivers the option of installing an ignition interlock device and operating their motorized vehicle with a restricted ignition interlock license. The ignition interlock device allows drivers to blow a sample of their breath into the device, which monitors the amount of alcohol in their breath, prior to starting the car.
One benefit of the restricted license is the driver may have the freedom to drive wherever they want to drive without the restrictions of the occupational license. Of course, installing the device can be expensive and drivers must pay the applicable state fees. Drivers also cannot get this type of license if their license is expired, suspended or they have not paid the necessary fees.