In the last few decades significant steps have been taken to criminalize the act of drunk driving. The traffic laws have become more stringent to ensure that the punishments related to drunk driving suitably match the crime and to encourage a deterrent.
The act of drunk driving is defined in law as attempting to control a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both. The severity of the act is determined by the person 's ability to speak and walk. These actions are referred to in law as either driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs (DUI).
Under both offenses you will be charged if the level of alcohol exceeds 0.08. Many states have introduced variations on these two offenses to make it illegal to drive while deprived of sleep or taking certain drugs.
If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI offense, the basic penalty can be incarceration up to one year. If the incident resulted in a third party receiving severe injuries or death occurred, then in some cases a DUI/DWI charge can lead to a much longer sentence.
Once a driver has been stopped on suspicion of drunk drinking the officer will question them to try to ascertain the level of impairment. If at any point they conclude that the driver is intoxicated they will ask for them to get out of the vehicle and to undergo a sobriety test. Generally these are now conducted using small testing devices that help the officer build a case for arrest. In most cases, these devices are not admissible in court.
If the test gives a reading of 0.8 or higher the driver will be arrested and taken to the nearest police station to be charged.
Should you be stopped and subsequently charged with a DUI/DWI offense it is important that you are aware of your rights. Under the constitution you have a right to refuse the test to determine your alcohol level. However, that will automatically get your license revoked/suspended. You also have a right to silence should the officer at the scene try to determine what your recent alcohol consumption has been. Finally, if you are charged you have the right to make a phone call to your lawyer.
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