3 Things You Should Know About Getting a DUI

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If you have been charged with a DUI, you probably have lots of questions.  A “DUI” has very negative connotations, and a charge or a subsequent conviction may change your life.  If you have been arrested under suspicion of a DUI, it is always best to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options for defending your case.  

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A DUI Charge Does Not Always Involve Drunk Driving  

A DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence.”  Most people recognize this term to mean driving drunk (legally defined as over the acceptable blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, level of .08.)  The sad reality is that although people know the consequences of driving drunk, many drivers still irresponsibly engage in drinking and driving.  Despite increased public awareness, recent statistics do not show any decline in drunk driving from this past decade.  In fact, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Admission showed that in 2020 there were 11,654 people killed from crashes caused by drunk drivers. This means that approximately 30% of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States are caused by drunk drivers. 

While the majority of DUI charges deal with people driving drunk, a DUI can also occur when people are under the influence of drugs or other illegal or even legal substances.   Some of the possible substances that can contribute to a person driving under the influence include the following: 

Marijuana 

As of 2022, it is legal to possess limited quantities of marijuana in 37 states (in addition to Washington DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).  Some states allow for the use of marijuana for purely medicinal reasons, whereas other states have completely decriminalized marijuana for recreational use.  Despite increased decriminalization, it is still possible to get a DUI as a result of marijuana use.  A person exhibiting erratic or impaired driving can still be charged with a DUI, even in states where marijuana is completely legal.  In other states where marijuana is prohibited, a driver can be charged with drug possession charges in addition to a DUI.  In these cases, it is strongly recommended to contact a criminal law attorney to discuss your case.

Prescription Drugs

Many prescription drugs have also been found to impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.  Certain medicines can cause side effects such as delayed reaction time, vertigo, and drowsiness.  It is possible to be charged with a DUI even if you are taking a medication that was approved by a doctor.  Therefore ,it is important to always check  your prescription bottle to see if it has a warning label advising users not to operate a vehicle while taking the medication.  You can also check with your doctor or pharmacist if your medication/s are safe to take while operating a vehicle.

Over The Counter Drugs

Some legal over-the-counter drugs, such as antihistamines, can also impair motor function.  This can be especially dangerous when people abuse the medicines and take more than the recommended dose or mix them with alcohol.  It is always advised to take over-the-counter medication as directed and to read the labels.  

A DUI Conviction Can Result in Serious Penalties

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious crime. A DUI charge can be very nerve-wracking and a DUI conviction can completely turn your life upside down.   A conviction can result in serious fines, probation, community service, alcohol education classes, suspension or loss of your license, and even jail time.  Some DUI charges will be misdemeanors; others will be felonies. A felony conviction will result in over one year of jail time plus a  criminal record.  A felony on your record could impact your future school or job prospects.  Additionally, there is a stigma associated with a DUI conviction.  It can negatively impact many areas of your life and future. 

Top Miami DUI lawyer Julian Stroleny advises that people with past DUI convictions will face more serious charges and harsher penalties.  Many laws are very critical of people who have a DUI history, and many DUI judges have no tolerance for subsequent offenders. That is why a person should immediately consult with a lawyer if they are facing a 2nd or 3rd DUI charge.

A DUI Attorney Can Help Your Case

If you have been charged with a DUI, you have a lot at stake.  Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming.  Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help your case.  They may be able to negotiate with the District Attorney to get your charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.  If you go to trial, you will not want to go through it alone.  Reach out to a DUI lawyer near you to prepare your defense and maintain your freedom.