How Many DUI Driving Offenses Will It Take Before Losing Your License?
In almost every jurisdiction throughout the country, a DUI conviction can result in a driver losing their license to operate a motor vehicle for some period. You can lose your license in some states after just one or two DUIs. However, it will take three or four violations in other jurisdictions before you lose your driving privileges. Depending on the state and the number of prior DUIs you have on your record, you can temporarily or permanently lose your license. Reach out to a DUI defense attorney.
In the latter instance, you will need to apply for a new license after a certain period. In addition to losing your driver’s license and driving privileges, you can incur other severe penalties for a DUI conviction, including high monetary fines, mandatory community service, and even jail time.
The easiest way to avoid these penalties is to avoid a DUI conviction altogether. When it comes to avoiding a conviction or lessening the consequences, an experienced criminal defense DUI defense attorney in your area can be extremely helpful. Your lawyer can review the circumstances of your arrest with you, discuss your legal options, and help you decide on the best possible choice for your case.
What Is a DUI?
DUI stands for driving under the influence of alcohol. Some jurisdictions use OWI, or operating while intoxicated, instead of DUI. Other states consider these offenses separate, and each offense has separate penalties associated with it.
Generally speaking, a person is legally intoxicated in most regions if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. However, under some circumstances, a police officer can still arrest a driver with a lower BAC if they believe the driver is suffering impairment by alcohol. These might apply if the driver carelessly weaves in and out of traffic or has alcohol on their breath.
Stricter DUI standards apply to drivers of commercial vehicles, including large trucks and tractor-trailers, and minors under 21 years of age. The legal BAC cut-off for commercial vehicle drivers is 0.04 percent in most jurisdictions. Jurisdictions typically have a 0.02 percent BAC cut-off for underage drivers, but some states have a zero-tolerance policy. This policy means that if the police officer administers a Breathalyzer and the minor’s BAC is anything above zero, the officer can arrest the minor for DUI.
Common Signs That a Motor Vehicle Operator Is Intoxicated
In many states, even when a driver has a blood alcohol concentration that falls below the legal limit, a police officer can still arrest the driver for DUI if they appear impaired.
Police officers have the training to look for signs of alcohol impairment, including reckless driving maneuvers and specific physical characteristics of the driver. For example, if a driver aggressively weaves in and out of traffic, tailgates other vehicles, speeds, or otherwise operates their car recklessly, they may suffer from alcohol impairment.
Moreover, police officers will look for physical signs of alcohol impairment, including bloodshot eyes, alcohol on the driver’s breath, and an inability to walk in a straight line without staggering. If officers observe any of these reckless driving maneuvers or physical symptoms, they might arrest the driver for DUI—even if the driver has a BAC lower than the legal limit.
Avoiding a DUI Offense in the First Place
Regardless of your state, the best way to avoid losing your driver's license is to avoid getting a DUI in the first place. If you have had any amount of alcohol to drink, no matter how small, never get behind the wheel of a car. Alcohol affects different people's bodies differently, and even a tiny amount of alcohol can be sufficient to impair a driver's faculties.
When in doubt, call Uber, Lyft, or a taxi to get you where you need to go, rather than drinking and driving. Alternatively, you can designate someone else to drive you to your destination instead of driving yourself. Taking these actions helps to ensure that you never put yourself at risk of sustaining a DUI charge or conviction. The potential legal and collateral consequences are too significant.
The Prosecutor’s Legal Burden in a DUI Case
If you do get behind the wheel of a car after drinking and a police officer arrests you for DUI, the case will proceed through the criminal court system in your state. In addition, the court will schedule a trial date in your case. At the criminal trial, the state prosecutor handling your case will have to satisfy the legal burden of proof.
They must prove the elements of your claim, including your intoxication at the time of your arrest, beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt means based upon ordinary common sense and reason.
If the prosecution fails to satisfy its legal burden, a judge can dismiss your case. Moreover, it is crucial to remember that the defendant (that is, the person who sustained the DUI arrest) does not need to prove anything in their case or even testify at trial.
Potential Penalties for a DUI Guilty Finding or Conviction
If the prosecutor can satisfy their legal burden in your criminal DUI case, you can sustain a conviction for your offense. It will then be up to the sentencing judge to determine what penalties to impose against you. Depending upon prior DUI convictions on your record, the sentencing judge can suspend your driving privileges for a period.
In some jurisdictions, if you have more than three or four DUIs on your record, a judge can suspend your driving privileges for an indefinite period.
In addition to a driver’s license suspension, individuals who sustain a DUI conviction might incur other significant penalties. Generally speaking, the more DUIs you have on your record, the higher the penalties that a judge will assess.
Those penalties can even include jail time in a state detention center under some circumstances. In addition, a judge can sentence you to hefty monetary fines, court-imposed community service, or a lengthy period of probation. You might also have to complete an alcohol rehabilitation course or a driver improvement program.
The best way to avoid these penalties in a DUI case is to avoid a conviction altogether. Having a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer on your side can be extremely helpful.
However, if you ultimately sustain a DUI conviction, your lawyer can be present with you at your sentencing hearing. At the hearing, your attorney can argue for a lighter penalty on your behalf or negotiate with the state’s attorney for a favorable plea deal in your case.
Benefits of Having an Attorney Represent You
Having an experienced criminal DUI defense lawyer represent you throughout your entire case is one of the most critical steps that you can take.
Having a lawyer protect your legal rights and advocate for you in court significantly increases your chances of obtaining a favorable result in your case.
- First of all, your attorney can be present with you during any police questioning.
- Second, your lawyer—who may have a good rapport with the state’s attorney handling your case—can represent you during settlement negotiations.
- Finally, your lawyer can advance a robust legal defense on your behalf if your case ultimately goes to court.
Being Present During Police Questioning
The first way that a lawyer can assist you during a criminal DUI proceeding is that they can be present with you during any police questioning. After a police officer initiates a DUI arrest, the officer will begin to question the arrestee. For example, the officer might ask the individual how much they had to drink or how long ago they had been drinking.
Regardless of what a police officer may tell you, you are not required to answer these questions following your arrest, except for providing primary contact or address information.
In fact, if you answer a police officer’s questions without having a lawyer present, you may be doing serious harm to your criminal case. This is because the police officer and prosecuting attorney can use anything you say against you during your criminal trial.
If a police officer begins to question you, you should immediately insist upon the presence of counsel before you answer any questions. When your lawyer is present, they can object to any questions that the police officer or investigator might ask, thereby safeguarding your legal and constitutional rights.
Pursuing a Favorable Plea Deal With the State’s Attorney
The prosecuting attorney might offer the defendant a plea deal in some instances. This agreement typically means that the defendant will plead guilty (sometimes to a lesser charge) to receive a lesser sentence, like probation.
If the defendant completes their probationary period, the conviction might come off their record, depending upon the terms of the probation. Many DUI defense attorneys have good working relationships with criminal court judges and DUI prosecutors.
Therefore, a skilled defense lawyer may work with the prosecutor and obtain a favorable plea deal on your behalf. Your lawyer can also help you decide whether you should accept a plea deal or roll the dice and take your case to trial.
Avoiding a Driver’s License Revocation and Other Potential Penalties by Arguing a Solid Legal Defense
In some instances, a criminal DUI defense lawyer can help you avoid a DUI conviction altogether by raising a solid defense in court on your behalf. There are numerous defenses that a DUI defendant might raise. For example, the defense attorney can argue that the Breathalyzer the police officer used did not work correctly. Moreover, the defense attorney can argue that the defendant suffered from acid reflux or other health condition that artificially altered the Breathalyzer result.
Finally, the police officer might have made a mistake when administering a field sobriety test or during the arrest process. If the fact-finder believes one or more of these defenses, it may dismiss the case, meaning that the court does not convict, and the defendant will not incur any legal penalties.
Dangers of Representing Yourself at a Criminal Trial
Representing yourself at a criminal DUI hearing or trial is extremely risky. If you show up to the courthouse without a lawyer, a presiding judge does not have to continue your case until you retain legal representation. Instead, the judge can make you go forward with your case without having an attorney present.
Given the potential penalties that are on the line following a DUI conviction, you must have a lawyer present with you at all stages of your case. Otherwise, you take a big chance on your future.
Speak With a Knowledgeable DUI Criminal Defense Lawyer in Your Jurisdiction About Your Case Today
A guilty finding or conviction in a criminal DUI matter can lead to numerous legal and collateral consequences—especially if you have multiple prior convictions. You can lose your driver’s license and privileges for a significant period and, in some cases, permanently. In addition, you might have to pay hefty monetary fines or even spend time in jail—especially if you are a repeat DUI offender.
Generally speaking, the sooner you have a skilled DUI criminal defense lawyer on board in your case, the better off you will be. Your attorney can represent you during every stage of your case and pursue a favorable result on your behalf, whether through a favorable plea deal or a favorable outcome in court.
Do not make the mistake of underestimating the consequences of a DUI conviction. Take this matter very seriously and seek help from the right legal team. You do not want to feel the effects of your DUI case for years to come, so you want to avoid convictions on your record whenever possible. A lawyer can identify all possible defenses in your case and fight for a dismissal, even if you have multiple DUI convictions on your record. Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer .