DUI Frequently Asked Questions


Due to the fact that "driving under the influence" (DUI) is the most highly committed crime in the United States, it is logical to conclude that many individuals have more than a few questions about the topic of "driving under the influence".

As a result of the prevalence of DUI incidents as well as the dangerous and at times fatal consequences that are correlated with DUI-related accidents, we are presenting some of the most frequently asked questions about driving under the influence.

What is "DUI"?

DUI is an acronym for "driving under the influence" of alcohol or any substance or chemical that negatively affects an individual's driving ability.

For people who are 21 and older, it is illegal to drive with a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher and for individuals who are under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or higher.

It can be emphasized that driving while impaired because of alcohol or drugs, or both is illegal in all 50 states.


Why do I need a DUI attorney?

Having a DUI attorney to plead your case and who is conversant with the DUI laws can greatly increase the likelihood that you will stay out of jail and receive a reduced sentence.

Currently, due to the pressures of a great number of entities that are outraged with the social and personal irresponsibility of individuals who continue to drink while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both, judges, through the vehicle of stricter fines and penalties, are sending a clear message that such acts of irresponsibility will not be tolerated.

Once a DUI lawyer is hired to "fight" for you, he or she will immediately begin going through every detail in your case to determine whether there's any procedures that were improperly followed.

Stated differently, your DUI attorney will be looking to see if the officer in charge did everything in the proper manner and whether or not there was a "lawful stop."

Being arrested for DUI can elicit feelings of embarrassment, depression, anger, fear, and anxiety. Keep in mind that individuals from all walks of life have been arrested for "driving under the influence."

And try to remember that the more control you take over in your life now, including educating yourself about current and relevant DUI laws, the greater peace of mind you will probably experience once your DUI has been resolved.

Due to the fact that you are in a vulnerable position, it would appear to make a lot of sense for you to consult with a DUI attorney you can trust and one who will fight for your legal rights.

Any DUI defense includes challenging the "stop and arrest" by the police officer. Another important area of a DUI defense is getting the breath test results suppressed. Even if the breath test is not suppressed, however, a DUI lawyer may be able to discount the results altogether. Recent challenges that have led to "suppression" include the following:

  • Defective warnings prior to conducting the test machine.

  • A lack of calibration and certification of a thermometer in the breathalyzer machine.

  • Software problems in the testing.

  • A constitutional challenge to the new DUI statute itself.

What are some of the terms that are synonymous with DUI?

The following terms are synonymous with the term "driving under the influence" (DUI) in various U.S. states:

  • Operating under the influence (OUI)

  • Driving while under the influence (DWUI)

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)

  • Operating while intoxicated (OWI)

  • Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII)

When I got a DUI the officer took my license but I still need to drive to work. What can I do?

You can apply at any department of motor vehicles field office for a "restricted license" that will enable you to drive to and from work.

I was arrested for DUI. Why am I being charged with committing two crimes?

In some states, along with being charged with "driving under the influence) (DUI), you may additionally be charged with a "per se" offense for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is over the legal limit. Note: in all 50 states, the "per se" legal limit is .08%. Each of these acts is a violation of the law and each is a crime for which a person can be convicted.

When does a DUI become a felony?

There are several ways that your DUI may be charged as a felony DUI or an aggravated DUI:

  • In most states, if you are arrested for DUI while driving on a revoked or a suspended license you may be charged with a felony (or an aggravated) DUI.

  • In most states, if you are arrested for DUI that results in severe injury or death you may be charged with an aggravated DUI or a felony DUI.

  • In most states, if you are driving with any children under the age of 15 in your vehicle and you are arrested for DUI you will be charged with a felony DUI even if you have no prior DUI convictions.

  • Under certain state laws, if you have been convicted of two DUIs within the past seven years, another arrest means you will be charged with a felony DUI.

What are the first steps usually undertaken in a DUI defense?

In most instances, the DUI lawyer will initiate a comprehensive interview of the person who received the DUI before accepting the case. The lawyer will review all the written documents related to the arrest, the breath or blood test report, and the traffic ticket that was written.

The initial interview will usually take between sixty and ninety minutes. Every aspect of your DUI case and the applicable laws will be addressed and discussed. The initial interview is totally confidential and all information related to this interview will be held in strictest confidence.

If the lawyer decides to accept your case, he or she will then present you with a detailed written contract for you to review. If you agree to the terms of the contract, you will then become the attorney's client and the attorney will then start the representation process.

Can I appeal my DUI to a circuit court?

Every individual in the U.S. who is convicted of a DUI in a municipal or district court has the right to appeal this lower court's conviction to the county circuit court. Be aware, however, that in many states there is a strict 14-day time period in which the appeal needs to be filed.

If the appeal is not correctly filed within the 14-day period of time, the appeal will be seen as "waived," a condition that is not open to re-filing at a later date.

I consumed only 4 or 5 beers and was not "drunk." Can I still be convicted of DUI?

An individual can be convicted of DUI if his or her driving was negatively affected in any appreciable manner by the drinking of alcohol.

Drinking 4 to 5 beers over a period of one to two hours could actually result in a blood alcohol content level between .06% and .09%, "depending" on the person's metabolism rate, how quickly the person drank the beer, how much alcohol was in the beer (some beer contains more alcohol content than others),the person's body weight, and if the person was drinking on a "full" or an "empty" stomach.

In sum, drinking 4 or 5 beers may be sufficient to violate either the "per se standard" (.08% in all 50 U.S. states) or the "under the influence" standard.


What should I do if the police ask me to take field sobriety tests?

There is a wide assortment of field sobriety tests including the "heel-to-toe" test, the "finger-to-nose" test, the "one-leg stand" test, the "alphabet recitation" test, the "horizontal gaze" (Nystagmus) test, the "modified position of attention" test, and the "fingers-to-thumb" test. Most police officers favor using between three and five different field sobriety tests.

Unlike a chemical test such as a saliva test, a blood alcohol test, or a breathalyzer test where refusal to take such a test can have extensive and adverse outcomes, an individual is not legally mandated to take any field sobriety tests. The bottom line reality is that police officers have typically made up their minds to arrest the individual when they have the person take one of more of the field sobriety tests.

In a word, field sobriety tests provide "extra" evidence that the driver inevitably "fails." As a result and in the vast majority of cases, a polite refusal to take any field sobriety test will be the correct course of action.