While drivers get pulled over by law enforcement daily, you do not want to be that driver. For some motorists, these are simple traffic violations, such as speeding or running a stop sign. However, they could be more severe offenses, such as a drunk driving charge. Each year, roughly one million drivers are arrested for drunk driving.
The severity of the charge is dependent on various factors, such as the severity of the offense, prior convictions, the level of intoxication and whether injury or death was caused by the offense. While these factors establish the severity of the charges and the penalties the accused could face, it is also important to consider the factors that assist with a defense against the allegations.
Elements of a DUI
While the elements of a DUI vary by state and by type of DUI charge, there are basic elements that need to be proven. To begin, the accused must have been driving under the influence. In most cases, a driver is presumed under the influence due to swerving, crossing the center line, hitting the curb or causing an accident. It should be noted that driving poorly doesn’t always have to occur. If a driver’s BAC is above a certain limit, a DUI charge could occur even if poor driving is not observed.
The next elements are driving and intoxication. While this might appear to be straightforward, it is not always that way. There are situations where proof of driving could be difficult due to the driver exiting the vehicle before law enforcement arrived, an individual falling asleep in a vehicle or using a vehicle as temporary shelter.
Similarly, proving intoxication can be difficult as well. This proof typically comes down to the testimony of the officer regarding the condition of the driver or the results of a blood or urine test. As such, errors could occur in these processes, creating issues with proving intoxication.
A DUI charge is unique to the situation. It is very dependent on the circumstances, as a regular DUI charge could quickly escalate to a higher charge if it is determined the charge occurred while driving on a restricted, suspended or revoked driver’s license. Additionally, a prior DUI conviction could result in a felony charge. Severe charges and penalties could occur when aggravating factors are present. This includes having a very high BAC, having a child present in the vehicle or causing an accident that resulted in injury or death.
A drunk driving charge is serious and should be treated as such. Thus, considering your defense options is imperative. This could help you reduce the penalties faced or could assist with the dismissal of the charges.