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DUI - Criminal Law Part III

So you have been arrested... Part III: Driving Under the Influence

The dreaded DUI. This is one of the most complicated and quickest moving types of cases; and if it is your first offense, the court may not appoint a lawyer to represent you. You have to hire your own attorney. This is because there is no possibility of going to jail, even though it is still a criminal offense, which must stay on your record for at least 10 years. The penalty that you are facing is a fine of at least $500, various substance abuse assessments with potential follow-up treatment, and a license loss of anywhere from 9 months to 2 years. Some, but not all, of this suspension could be suspended if you successfully fulfill other parts of the sentence, but you may have to install an ignition interlock device (in essence a breath test) into your vehicle. There are also the collateral consequences of a conviction that include potential habitual offender implications, as well as the increase in the cost of insurance.

You will go to jail if you are convicted of a subsequent offense, or an aggravated DUI, as these are statutorily mandated jail sentences. Consequently, you may be eligible for a court-appointed lawyer, if the court determines that your financial status is such that you cannot afford one. A subsequent offense would be if you had one or more DUI convictions, even from another state, within the previous 10 years. There is an enhanced jail sentence if it was within the previous 2 years. There are several different permutations that define an Aggravated DUI. Some include if their was a child under 16 in the vehicle, or if you drove in excess of 30 miles per hour over the speed limit; but the most common, is when the blood alcohol test reveals a level of a .16 or greater.

One part of a DUI that really shocks people, is that there are actually two ways of losing your license for a DUI charge. If you are arrested under the suspicion of DUI, you are subject to what is referred to as the Implied Consent law. In short, it means that by driving you are agreeing to take whatever alcohol concentration test the officer requests; blood, breath or urine. You do have the right to refuse, but either comes at a price. If you refuse, or if you test over the legal limit of .08, you will lose your license for 180 days for your first offense and 2 years for a subsequent offense. This starts 30 days after your arrest.

The thing is, you can request a hearing as to whether this suspension is legitimate, but you must do so within those first 30 days. But, since this suspension is entirely in the purview of the Department of Safety Division of Motor Vehicles, a department of the executive branch, it has nothing to do with your court case. You can be acquitted of your case in court and still have this suspension in effect. Additionally, if you were appointed a lawyer, they may not be able to do this hearing, since it is outside of their appointment by the judicial branch.

As you can see, there are many issues that lie ahead, and this Blog merely scratches the surface. Here at Martin, Lord & Osman, P.A., we can counsel and guide you through this difficult process, and will vigorously represent you not only in court, but also will arrange for and represent you at the DMV hearing you are entitled to.

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