What Is A DUI?

DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is sometimes also called DWI and OUI. Operating a vehicle with a .08% blood alcohol level or higher is illegal in all states in the US.

A DUI sounds pretty open and closed doesn’t it…Driving Under the Influence. Pretty straight forward, right?

Let’s examine this seemingly simple definition in more detail to illustrate a few conceivable areas where well-prepared lawyer can attack a DUI charge.

Driving Requirement

The requirement of operating or driving suggests that the driver must have some sort of control or command of the vehicle. Guilt or innocence may hang on whether the defendant was actually “driving” in a particular circumstance. What if she or he was just sitting behind the wheel of a car but the motor was off? What if the defendant was sleeping there? What if the keys were in the defendant’s trouser pocket and not in the ignition? What if that automobile was out of gas and could not be started? What if the automobile was idling? What if it was being towed? Courts all around the nation have considered various scenarios to determine whether the necessary control over the vehicle was present and the outcomes vary state to state and by the individual context. Vehicle Requirement Vans, trucks and cars are quite obviously considered to be vehicles for drunk-driving law purposes. However, people have been convicted of drunk driving while operating motorboats, mopeds, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, electric wheelchairs, golf carts, bicycles and ATVs, although the types of vehicles contemplated differ in each state. Intoxication One way prosecutors attempt to prove driver intoxication is through scientific testing of the amount of alcohol in an individuals body, usually by analyzing the breath or blood. These tests are usually administered by a machine, such as the Breathalyzer. In every single state, a person with a blood-alcohol content over 0.08% is considered legally intoxicated.

Implied-consent laws create the legal presumption that if an individual takes advantage of the privilege of operating a vehicle, he or she automatically consents to state-administered chemical testing to determine his or her BAC. If a driver refuses to take a chemical-alcohol test, his or her license may be retracted or suspended.

Blood-alcohol concentration test results over the legal limit are usually presumed to be proof of intoxication. However, defendants may challenge the conclusiveness of the results by showing irregularities in the test administration procedure or problems with the test equipment. For example, your attorney may advise retesting of the defendant’s breath sample. She or he may be able to obtain exclusion of the original breath test results from the case or even dismissal of the case entirely.

Other types of proof that can be used by prosecuting attorneys to show intoxication include drivers’ statements, witness and police observations of behavior and driving patterns of circumstantial evidence. An example of a type of possible relevant circumstantial evidence is that a the accused, before driving, spent the afternoon at a party where drinking games were engaged in.

Police also gather important evidence of intoxication by administering standard field sobriety tests (FSTs) at the scenes of traffic stops. Common field sobriety tests include:

* Finger-to-nose test

* One-legged stand

* Walk-and-turn test

* Horizontal-gaze-nystagmus test

* Picking up coins

* Counting backwards

* Reciting the alphabet

* Throwing and/or catching a ball


Driving is the basis of the American style of living, permeating every activity we do. We dependon driving to get to work, to associate with friends, to run errands and to take a vacation. Licensed drivers commute juveniles, people with physical disabilities and senior citizens to important appointments and activities. A DUI conviction can bring a screeching halt to your life. If you face a plausible problem with drunk driving, a lawyer can stand up for you and help defend your interests and those of your loved ones.

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