DUI is a serious offense that thousands of people are charged with every year.
Anyone facing this charge needs to hire a lawyer in order to fight it as effectively as possible. But they also need to educate themselves as to the nature of the charge. Knowledge is essential to being able to articulate what happened and what a person may want to do next as part of their case. What follows is a simplified listing of some of the commonly used terms related to DUI cases, defined in plain English:
- Drunk Driving
- Drunk Driving charge
- Classes in drug and alcohol abuse
- DUI penalty maximums in the state of Georgia
- DUI conviction
- First-Time DUI Offenders
Drunk driving is the act of driving a car or another vehicle while intoxicated. Intoxicated is defined in different ways in different situations. The classic definition of driving while intoxicated is a person who gets behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content of greater than 0.08. But it can also involve driving with lower blood alcohol content levels for special populations such as the drivers of commercial vehicles and minors. There are also several drugs that can lead a person to be impaired enough to trigger a DUI charge.
Drunk Driving charge
A drunk driving charge is when a person receives if he or she is caught driving while drunk. There are few restrictions as to the vehicles in which a person can drive while intoxicated and receive one of these charges. People can receive a drunk driving charge in a wide variety of vehicles. Some common alternative vehicles include boats and ATVs.
There are a number of ways that law enforcement can prove a drunk driving charge. Most famous among these is the breathalyzer test. Breathalyzer tests involve a person breathing into a device that measures the percentage of alcohol in their bloodstream. Alcohol affects everyone differently. But the law has determined that a person in most cases who drives with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 is driving impaired. Once that is determined, an individual is often arrested and is no longer able to drive that evening. This is not the only way that a police officer can determine a DUI.
There are also blood tests that measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood. These tests are more accurate and multiple tests do not have to be performed. But they are tests that can only be performed in a police station. The amount of time that elapses between the arrest and the test can often be enough time for a person to process the alcohol in their system. Therefore, officers have another tool that they can use in order to determine if a person is intoxicated. They can perform a field sobriety test. A field sobriety test is a subjective measure of a person’s ability to drive. These tests are often performed in front of a police dash camera that helps a person determine whether or not the officer was telling the truth about the situation. A combination of visual clues, field sobriety test, and breathalyzer tests are often all that is needed to determine whether or not a person is driving under the influence.
These charges can be serious and can result in a number of negative situations for the person involved. Drunk driving charges sometimes result in a person spending a night or two in jail or paying thousands of dollars. These penalties increase significantly for any negative factors associated with the charge.
Classes in drug and alcohol abuse
The criminal justice system has been more and more focused on rehabilitation in recent years. One way of focusing on rehabilitating people is to instruct them to take classes in drug and alcohol abuse. These classes can help people target the reasons for their drinking and develop skills that lead them to stop drinking as much. They can be effective at helping a person overcome their personal demons and avoid another DUI charge.
DUI penalty maximums in the state of Georgia
Maximum penalties vary widely in the state of Georgia. People who are charged and convicted of DUI for a first offense can face several days in jail, a restriction of their driving privileges, and the requirement to attend classes and perform community service. Some or all of these restraints can be listed in many instances for a first offense if a person does not have anything else on their criminal record. More offenses obviously mean higher maximum sentences. The amount of maximum jail time that a person can face, along with the amount of time that their license will be suspended, is determined by the number of DUIs they have had. After four of these convictions, many individuals will suffer a permanent suspension of service.
A DUI conviction can lead to many negative outcomes. A person can lose their job or their car. They can receive negative headlines in the media. Their mugshot might be plastered on television or a website. But people can also fight DUI charges and avoid a conviction. If they can prove chain of custody issues with testing materials, they can often beat these charges and win an acquittal.
First-Time DUI Offenders
First-time DUI offenders will most likely receive the judicial equivalent of a slap on the wrist. They will have to attend classes and will often have to perform a certain amount of community service. A person may spend a day in jail or two. But in the vast majority of instances, the first conviction does not involve jail time. A DUI is seen as a dangerous action that could potentially lead to severe injuries or property damage if it happens again.
Misdemeanors are the least serious charges in the criminal justice system. They are a wide variety of transgressions that involve minor violations of property rights or physical safety. In most cases, misdemeanors do not bring about any jail time. They are not even pursued in a vast majority of situations. When a misdemeanor does come to trial, both sides are implored to pursue settlements and look at plea deals. Some people convicted of misdemeanors are even allowed to serve out their sentences on house arrest.
A felony is a much more serious violation of the law. These transgressions often come with a jail sentence and a hefty fine. People who are accused of felonies tend to have to put up thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in order to fight the charge and possibly avoid it. DUIs can only lead to these charges in a rare handful of instances. There are DUIs that cause severe damage or injuries that can be pursued as felonies. There are also situations where a person is accused of their fifth or sixth DUI. They have put the public at risk for far too many times and must be dealt with.
Anyone who faces a DUI charge needs to pursue every legal option they have available to them. It is extremely important to have a criminal defense attorney on your side who will fight to protect your rights.
By combining knowledge of both sides of the criminal justice system, Castellanos Law Group provides clients with strong representation in even the most complex criminal defense matters.