What is DUI/DWI?
DUI/DWI is shorthand for Driving Under the Influence/Driving While Intoxicated.
A person is guilty of DUI/DWI if he or she drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical or controlled substance to the extent that his or her mental faculties are impaired or when his or her blood alcohol level (BAC) is above the legal limit for the state (currently .08).
Is there anyway to avoid a DUI/DWI?
It sounds simple, but don't drink and drive. Take a taxi, designate a driver, walk, call a friend, but no matter what, do not drink and drive.
Can I still be in trouble for driving, even if my BAC is below the legal limit?
Yes. It is also unlawful to drive with your normal faculties impaired. Normal faculties are those faculties of a person, such as the ability to walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, etc.
Does the car have to be moving for me to be guilty of DUI/DWI?
No. You can be arrested for DUI/DWI by driving while over the legal BAC in your state or while impaired. But, you need not actually drive a car in order to be arrested. You can still be found guilty if you had the capability and power to dominate, direct, or regulate the vehicle, regardless of whether you were exercising that capability or power at the time of the arrest. In other words, simply sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition can lead to your arrest for DUI by being in actual physical control of the car.
Do I have to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test?
No. However, refusing such may not be a good idea either. The laws of most states permit the motor vehicle department to suspend your privilege to drive. In addition, your refusal to submit to a test upon the request of a law enforcement officer is admissible in any criminal proceeding against you as evidence of you consciousness of guilt. In Virginia, if you are convicted of unreasonable refusal to take a test, you will lose your license for 12 months.
By accepting the privilege extended by the laws of most states to drive, the courts have determined that you have given your consent to submit to an approved chemical or physical test of your breath for the purposes of determining your BAC. Therefore, when you sign your name on your license, you are saying that if stopped for a possible DUI/DWI, you will accept to take the test.
Can I contest my DUI/DWI arrest?
Yes. You may request a review of the driver's license suspension by the department of motor vehicles within a seven of days following your arrest. More importantly, you or your lawyer may contest either the reasonable articulable suspicion for the traffic stop as well as the probable cause for the arrest itself. In addition, counsel can often suppress either the breath or blood certificates so that they may not be used as evidence. Often times, without the certificate as evidence, your case is either dismissed or reduced to reckless driving. A lawyer can also assist you in reducing a DWI 3d to a DWI 2nd or a DWI 2nd to a DWI 1st, etc.
If I am arrested for a DUI/DWI, will I lose my license?
Yes, the law enforcement officer will seize your license if you are arrested for DUI with an unlawful BAC or after you refused to submit to a chemical or physical test. Your license will be seized, and the officer will issue you a traffic ticket, which acts as both a temporary driver's license and as your notice of suspension.
How long will I lose my license?
This will vary from state to state. However, if you have refused to submit to a chemical or physical test, your license will likely be suspended for a period of one year for a first refusal. If you are convicted of a first offence DWI in Virginia, then your license will be suspended for 12 months. However, you are eligible for restricted privileges to and from work, to and from school and to and from alcohol counseling and for child care services.
What else will happen to me?
Once again, this varies from state to state. But more than likely, you will be given a jail term which may or may not be suspended. Under Virginia law, a lot depends on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For example, if your BAC is .20 or higher, you must be sentenced to 30 days in jail, 5 days of which cannot be suspended. In addition, if you are charged with a second offence within five years, then you will not only be sentenced to at least 30 days in jail (5 days of which cannot be suspended), but your driver's license will be suspended for at least 3 years. Furthermore, your insurance company may discontinue its coverage or at the very least, assign you to a high-risk category, resulting in a substantial increase in your premiums