by Susan Paige
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious issue that can land you in serious legal issues. You should also know that some states have tough laws against DUI charges. And, if you’re below 21 years or the legal age of drinking, you could be arrested regardless of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Incidentally, if you’re below 21, the maximum BAC cannot be more than 0.02%. If you’re over 21 years old, the highest permissible limit is 0.08%. The law expects you to behave responsibly and not recklessly endanger the life or property of other people by driving after drinking or taking drugs.
Driving Under Influence IS Always Your Fault
if you’ve been drinking, DUI charges will apply regardless of whether or not it was your fault. You might think that a couple of drinks won’t hurt or that your destination is only a short distance away. Or, that the other driver ran an intersection at a red light and there are cameras to prove that he’s at fault. But, like the expert lawyers at Smith & Eulo advise, if the officer finds that your blood alcohol levels are elevated at the time of the crash, your case is extremely critical. However, if you’ve retained an expert lawyer, he may be able to get you a lighter sentence and fine.
Never Try to Leave the Scene of the Accident
Irrespective of whether it was your fault, you should never leave the accident site as this feature on FindLaw warns. Driving away from the site will add an additional hit-and-run to your DUI charges. If you’re involved in a car mishap, know that you’ll have to deal with the DUI. In many states, the accident is a separate issue from the drinking. Your best bet is to inform your criminal law attorneys and wait for them to arrive. You’ll receive guidance on the statements you should give and what to say to the police. For instance, do not say anything that may indicate you’re accepting that you were at fault. And, at no cost, should you apologize for the incident.
People Injured in the Accident Can Make the Situation Complicated
Depending on the laws of the state you live in, if people are injured, you could face charges of felony and a long-term prison term. You may also have to pay compensation to the other accident victims. If the affected people are seriously injured, the reimbursement could go up to millions of dollars as this article on Nolo explains. In addition, you’ll find it difficult to get adequate auto insurance in the future. Or, you may end up paying high premiums. Also keep in mind that the affected people can file a suit against you at any time within five years from the incident. Do not assume that they decided not to press charges if you don’t hear from them within a few weeks after the accident. You might also want to make sure that the insurance company has resolved the issue.
Several Factors Can Influence the Outcomes of the Incident
In case you’re only involved in a minor fender-bender, your lawyer could get the charges reduced. In place of charges of a crime, you could face penalties and civil liabilities because of misdemeanor. In some instances, you might also be able to pay a small fine and get the matter resolved. Here are some of the factors that the law will take into consideration:
- Is this is your first offense
- If you don’t have any prior DUI charges in the last 10 years
- If you have high BAC levels at the time of the car accident
- If you are of legal drinking age, which is 21 years
- If you have had your driving license revoked or suspended
- If there was a child in your car
- If any property was damaged in the mishap
- If anyone was injured in the accident
Having a Witness Testify Could Help Your Case
Your lawyer may try to get you off with a small charge with the help of a witness present at the scene. In case the witness can testify that the accident was not your fault, you could have the charges reduced from aggravated DUI to a light charge. For instance, if you’ve been hit from behind in a rear-end collision, clearly the other driver is responsible. Further, the other driver could have been speeding or disobeyed any other traffic laws. But, if you’re driving down the wrong side of a one-way street AND you’ve been drinking, you will have to take responsibility for the incident.
Don’t Delay in Responding if You’ve Been Served
In case the injured people in the other vehicle file charges against you in court, you must respond with an “Answer” before the deadline mandated by the court. In case you don’t respond, the court will rule in favor of the person filing the complaint. Check out this post on LawAccess NSW for more information about what can happen. While your insurance company will appoint a lawyer to defend you, getting a separate lawyer could be helpful. That’s because many auto insurance companies don’t cover damages arising from DUI charges.
Make sure the attorney you hire is an expert in criminal law and DUI lawsuits. During the course of the hearing, you can put forward your version of the incident and explain your innocence. But, you should know that in cases where the details of the mishap are not really clear, the jury will likely rule against the person facing DUI charges. You’ll have your license suspended with the suspension ranging from 4 to 12 months depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Statistics on SaferAmerica report that in the year 2016 alone, close to 10,500 died in car crashes where one of the drivers was drunk. In the same year, around 1,235 kids aged 14 years and lower were killed in accidents. When you drink and drive, you endanger not just your own life, but also the lives of innocent people. Accidents can happen at any time, but when you’re sober and alert, you have a far better chance of avoiding them. The next time you need to get someplace after drinking, call a friend. Or, call a cab!