Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a major offense in all U.S. states and both the federal and local government continue to make it clear to all motorists that anyone who will be caught violating the anti-drunk-driving law can face huge fines, time in jail, suspension of driving privileges from one month to one year, and even community service and mandatory participation in an alcohol education class in a DUI school.
Yearly records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that drunk-driving is one of the major causes of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. At least 10,000 of the more than 32,000 fatal accidents every year are due to drunk-driving.
Currently, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in the US is 0.08%. Thus, anyone who will be caught driving with a 0.08% or higher BAC level can be charged with a DUI or DWI.
In some states, DUI and DWI are used interchangeably; in some others, however, where both acronyms are used, DWI is used to refer to driving while intoxicated by alcohol, or driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or an unknown substance.
The sad reality about drunk-driving, besides the fact that this is a totally preventable occasion, is that so many of those getting charged, and sometimes convicted, are first time offenders. In 2013 alone, close to half of the 1,171,935 drivers who were arrested for driving while impaired by alcohol were first time offenders (this number is actually too small compared to the 29.1 million who, in 2012, confessed to having driven their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol).
People who are caught drunk driving for the first time, so long as they did not injure or kill anyone, or their BAC level is not way beyond the limit, are usually charged with a simple act of misdemeanor. If the drunk-driving violation were a repeated act, though, or if the driver injured or killed someone, or if his or her BAC level is way beyond 0.08%, then he or she can be charged either with a DWI felony or DUI felony.
On the website of a Nashville criminal lawyer, it is mentioned that an estimated 135.5 million people consume alcohol regularly. At the same time, the number of people classified as abusing alcohol is over 86 million. Alcohol abuse often carries with it other problems besides the obvious health risks. Getting arrested on a DUI or other criminal charges related to alcohol abuse can fundamentally alter a person’s life. Thus, if ever a person is caught and charged with DUI or DWI, it may be in his or her best interest to get in touch with a seasoned drunk-driving defense lawyer immediately. A defense lawyer not only can examine the circumstances leading to the person’s arrest, he or she may also be able to request the court to have all charges against the driver dismissed altogether if the way evidence (which will prove alcohol impairment) was collected with irregularities.