Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in all 50 states. Every state has laws that define DUI as operating a motor vehicle, such as a car, motorcycle, or boat, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. This is called a “per se” violation and you will be charged with DUI even if your driving ability does not show signs of impairment.
In some states, you may be arrested for driving under the influence even if your BAC is under 0.08 percent. This is referred to as a “less safe” driver violation and must be proved through the arresting officer and witness’s testimony.
Drinking and driving is considered a misdemeanor in some cases, while a felony in others.
Normally, a person will receive a DUI misdemeanor if it is his or her first, second, or third offense within a certain time frame (typically five to ten years). However, a person may be charged with felony DUI if he or she had had three or more drunk-driving offenses or caused property damage and/or bodily harm.
The penalties for a DUI misdemeanor are less severe than the penalties for a DUI felony. The severity of the penalties typically depend on whether you have prior offenses, an excessively high BAC, or other circumstances, such as transporting a minor while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Even for a first offense, you will be sentenced to jail time, probation, fines, and court fees. Your driver’s license will be suspended, though in certain cases you may be eligible for a restricted driving permit. The judge will also order you to attend mandatory alcohol evaluation, treatment, and counseling.
Did you know that in some states it is possible to have your DUI misdemeanor expunged from your criminal record? You typically have to wait for a certain amount of time to pass before your defense attorney can request to have your misdemeanor permanently erased.
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