Drunk driving may be a common offense. Yet, its penalties and consequences can be serious. You might think driving under the influence of alcohol is fun; think again. Drunk driving is one of the leading fatalities on the road in the United States.
Based on the data of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 28 people die in alcohol-related accidents daily in the country. Statistics also show that four drunk drivers are male for each female drunk driver.
Aside from the damage and casualties, you may also face penalties. These include revocation of driver’s license, jail time, and fines. The penalty for a first-time offense usually amounts to $10,000 and above. This includes legal fees. Penalties also depend on charges filed, which could go from misdemeanor to felony. Aside from these, your confiscated license will also affect your daily activities.
But what if you are asked to pull over for suspected drunk driving? What should you do? How should you deal with the police officer? Should you refuse to take the breath test?
Drunk-driving Cases in the U.S.
You can be charged with a drunk-driving offense if your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is or is beyond the legal threshold of .08 grams of alcohol. With the exemption of Utah having a BAC limit of .05, you can face charges in all 50 states should you violate the law.
In an analysis conducted by the American Addiction Centers (AAC) in 2017, South Dakota had a 938.8 arrest rate per 100,000 people. It is the highest rate so far among all states. Next is North Dakota, with an 836.4 arrest rate, followed by Wyoming with a 561.5 arrest rate per 100,000 people. Washington D.C. recorded the lowest DUI arrests, with a rate of 3.2 arrests per 100,000 people.
Pulled Over: What to Do?
The laws, as well as the penalties, vary from state to state. But wherever you are in the country, you should know your rights when accused of drunk driving. However, even your rights depend on which state you are in. If you are asked to pull over in unfamiliar territory, just keep calm and do as they say. Just make sure to stop at a safe location.
Take note that while you cannot refuse to be arrested without a lawyer during a drunk under the influence (DUI) checkpoint, you can, however, refuse to answer questions without the presence of your attorney. Thus, you need the most reliable criminal defense attorney to clear your record.
The police officer will most likely ask for your name, license, and registration documents, which you are required to submit. However, you have the right to remain silent when asked about other information. If you are asked whether you are under the influence of alcohol, you can politely refuse to answer until you have talked to your lawyer.
It will help if you remain polite when talking to the police officer to avoid being charged with resisting arrest. It is your discretion whether to accept or refuse a breathalyzer and a field sobriety test. If you are sure that you do not exceed the Blood Alcohol Concentration, the best advice would be to take the tests. Refusing to do so will put you in a serious offense.
Getting a Lawyer
Your lawyer will guide you through the process. Take notes of everything that happened. How much alcohol did you take? What happened when you were driving? What questions were you asked when you pulled over? Your lawyer will use these to defend you. If you can think of any witnesses to attest to your innocence, tell your lawyer so that they can testify.
Getting a lawyer to defend you from a DUI charge will cost you around $2000 to $5000. This includes fees and legal documents. This can be higher depending on the legal requirements and on whether you accept a plea or when your case goes to trial.
These may be costly for you, but getting a defense lawyer will save you from all the hassle of penalties and jail time. Your lawyer should be able to defend you and prove that you’ve been falsely accused. However, in case you’re guilty, your lawyer can defend you so much so that the penalties can be lowered.
The best way to prevent DUI charges is to make sure you don’t drive under the influence of alcohol. More than anything else, your safety and the safety of other people on the road are what’s important. Avoid drunk driving charges, but most of all, avoid road accidents. Don’t drunk-drive. Your family is waiting for you.