A common question asked of our DUI attorney is whether Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is considered a criminal offense or a traffic offense. After all, it involves the operation of a motor vehicle, but a conviction often results in serious penalties. As a DUI attorney might explain to you, if a driver operates a motor vehicle when their blood alcohol percentage is over the legal limit, they are DUI. Additionally, if they are intoxicated due to other types of substances, narcotics, or prescription medications, a DUI also applies. Also note that this charge is not limited to driving cars or trucks or flying an airplane. A DUI can be charged to someone who is intoxicated while operating certain types of heavy machinery.

If you were charged with DUI, it’s very important that you hire an experienced DUI attorney and without delay. This can help prevent you from losing your driving privileges because the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Court will set hard deadlines for various types of compliance and court appearances. For example, did you know that in most states you only have 10 days after a DUI arrest to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to notify them that they should not automatically suspend your license? A DUI attorney can guide you through the legal process to prevent you from making serious mistakes. Nobody wants to lose their driver’s license but when the person needs it in order to commute to work, or if their job includes driving duties, it can be financially catastrophic.

What if my child is a minor and was charged with a DUI even though they were not intoxicated?

In some states, DUI laws are even more rigid than in other areas of the country. For example, drivers who are minors in California may be charged with DUI regardless of their blood alcohol level because it is illegal for them to consume alcohol.

When is a DUI not considered a criminal offense?

In certain states such as Wisconsin and New Jersey, a DUI is considered a traffic violation. As a result, if they are convicted of the charge, they will not face jail time. For the rest of the country, the violator can expect to be fined as well as have their license suspended in addition to being ordered to perform community service and serve time behind bars.

Do penalties increase with multiple DUI convictions?

Yes, they do. After a review of your criminal history and your current charges, a DUI attorney can provide you with the likely scenarios you’re facing upon a conviction. Generally speaking, the more times you have been convicted, the longer your sentence, the higher the fine (into the thousands of dollars), the longer the driver’s license suspension, and the likelier you will be forced to pay for an Ignition Interlock Device to be installed in the vehicle you drive once your driving privileges have been restored. In some cases, the individual may permanently lose their driver’s license.

To discuss your case with a seasoned DUI attorney, contact a law firm today.