Frequently Asked Questions about DUI

Unsure about Dui Laws? Let us clear up the confusion...

Being arrested for drunk driving and facing DUI charges can be a very daunting experience, and if you're in that situation, you probably have a lot of questions. If you've received a DUI ticket and been charged with a DUI, you should immediately speak with a local DUI attorney who can provide additional information and also assess your case. Call 1 (877) 349-1311 or fill out a our free case evaluation form, and we'll schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a DUI lawyer in your area.

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What Is A DUI?

DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI may be called DWI or OWI in some states. It is illegal in all 50 states to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, and testing at or above this level is presumptive evidence of a DUI. Learn more about the DUI laws in your state. However, it is possible to be convicted of DUI or a related charge at a lower BAC.

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What Is BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)?

BAC (blood alcohol content, or blood alcohol concentration) is the amount of alcohol in your blood. BAC is a measurement of the weight of alcohol in a certain volume of your blood and is expressed as a percentage. The greater the level of alcohol in your blood, the more your driving will be impaired.

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How Is Blood Alcohol Content Measured?

Blood alcohol content may be measured by breath, blood, saliva or urine testing. The test is usually conducted immediately after you're stopped on suspicion of DUI. While blood testing is the only true way to determine BAC, breath tests are now the most common and most powerful form of evidence in DUI cases. The device used to administer a breath test is commonly known as a breathalyzer.

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What Is the Difference Between a Breathalyzer and BAC?

These terms are often used interchangeably, when in fact there is a difference between a breathalyzer and BAC. A breathalyzer doesn't read blood alcohol content but rather attempts to estimate it by measuring the amount of alcohol in your breath from the lungs. Breathalyzers translate breath alcohol content to BAC by assuming a specific ratio (2100:1) between the two. However, this ratio applies to the "average person," when in fact this ratio may vary between 1700:1 and 2400:1 in different people. Thus, breathalyzer test results are commonly challenged.

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Are There Ways to Tell if my Blood Alcohol Content is Too High?

The only accurate way to determine BAC is to take a blood test. However, there are some general rules of thumb that may estimate your BAC based on your weight and the amount of alcohol you've ingested. Generally, an average 170-pound man must have more than four drinks in one hour on an empty stomach to reach a .08 percent BAC, while a 137-pound woman would reach .08 BAC after about three drinks in an hour on an empty stomach.

Remember that these estimates are rough figures. BAC may also be influenced by your metabolism, how much you've eaten and other factors. Thus, one woman may have less than three drinks in an hour and register a higher BAC than the average woman. The same goes for men as well, so the best policy is to not drive if you've had a few drinks.

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Must You Submit to a Breath Test?

If a law enforcement official pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, he or she will proceed to administer a breath test. Refusing to take a breath test will lead to the automatic suspension of your driver's license in most states, may be used as presumptive evidence against you in some states, and may carry additional civil or criminal sanctions.

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What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are unlike breath and blood tests in that they are voluntary in most states. In 1981, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a standardized field sobriety testing model consisting of the One-Leg-Stand Test, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, and Walk and Turn (WAT ) Test. Field sobriety tests may be critical pieces of evidence in DUI cases where breath/blood tests have been found unreliable and suppressed, or when there was a refusal to take a breath test or blood test. Other times, these tests may not have much bearing in DUI cases.

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What are the Penalties for a DUI?

DUI penalties may differ from state to state, but the one constant is that they are very severe. A DUI conviction may lead to criminal penalties, civil fines and other adverse consequences, and are often dependent on the state and the person's prior DUI or other criminal record. Some DUI penalties may include losing one driver's license and being subject to supervision, probation and lengthy jail time.

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What is Zero Tolerance?

Zero tolerance statutes are in force in every state, although the specifics vary somewhat. Essentially, zero tolerance makes it illegal for any person under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in his system. "Any alcohol" may vary from state to state, but is certainly different from being under the influence. In other words, the state does not have to prove impairment but rather must show that the driver had the designated concentration of alcohol in his or her blood. In most states, the "designated concentration" for underage drivers is .02%.

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How Can I Win My DUI Case?

DUI charges do not necessarily lead to automatic convictions, as there may be weaknesses in the state's case against you. Potential DUI challenges may include challenging your initial arrest, your questioning, your blood alcohol test results, and the testimony of the arresting officer. And if you can not win the case, your DUI attorney may be able to plea bargain for a lesser charge or a less severe penalty.

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How Can I Clear My Record?

You may be able to clear your record of a DUI charge. Your first option is to seek a new trial following your DUI conviction. If your second trial is granted and you are later found not guilty, your conviction will be cleared and the legal effect would be as if you were never convicted. If you lose your second trial, you may be eligible to appeal your DUI conviction. Your local DUI attorney can further explain this process in more detail.

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What Should I Do When Facing DUI Charges?

Schedule a free, no obligation consultation with one of the local DUI attorneys who sponsor Total DUI! Call 1 (877) 349-1311 toll-free or fill out our online DUI case evaluation form to get started.

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