You can be arrested for driving while under the influence (DUI) when your blood alcohol concentration is .08% or higher. If you have just received a ticket for driving while under the influence, you may be wondering what to do. Receiving a DUI charge can be disconcerting, especially if you are a first-time offender. There are many different ways to defend yourself against a DUI charge and all of the negative consequences of a DUI conviction. The first step is to understand DUI laws and then to hire an aggressive DUI lawyer who will protect your rights throughout the process.
What Constitutes a DUI?
Law enforcement can arrest you for a DUI if you drive, operate, or are in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence. DUI charges are not limited to driving passenger vehicles. You can face a DUI while driving an off-highway vehicle or a moped. Keep in mind that the law does not require you to be driving a vehicle to be charged with a DUI. You only need to be in actual physical control of a vehicle. Defendants have been arrested for sitting in their parked car with the ignition on while sleeping and intoxicated.
Law enforcement will need to prove that a chemical test indicated that your blood alcohol concentration was at .08% or greater to secure a DUI conviction. Or, prosecutors can prove that there was a presence of a drug, either prescription or illegal, in your system that was sufficient for a DUI conviction. When a DUI chemical test at the accident scene or the police station reveals that your blood alcohol level is higher than .05%, you can be arrested for a DUI.
DUIs and Implied Consent
Implied consent means that if you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you automatically agree to a chemical test. The chemical test will determine your degree of intoxication. Even if you say you do not want the test to be administered, the laws imply that you consent to this test.
You can reject the test, but doing so carries severe penalties. You will risk losing your driver’s license or driving privileges for a period of time. First-time offenders will lose their driving privileges for up to 18 months. Second-time offenders will lose their driving privileges for up to 24 months. Third and subsequent offenders could lose their licenses permanently and suffer even more severe penalties.
The Process of Being Charged with a DUI
When you are arrested for a DUI, a law enforcement officer will take your driver’s license and issue you a 15-day temporary driver’s license. If they discover that your license has been revoked or suspended, they will take your license and not issue a temporary license. You will need to request an administrative hearing with the DMV within 15 days of your DUI arrest. If you fail to do so, you will lose your driving privileges for at least three months. You can request an administrative hearing at a local DMV facility or online. A DUI conviction is serious, and your DUI sentence will remain on your driving record for at least five years.
DUI Administrative Hearings
The next step in the process is to attend an administrative hearing regarding your DUI charge. The administrative hearing determines a few crucial factors, such as whether police officers have probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. The police officers will need to show that they did have probable cause that you are driving, operating, or actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Probable cause often includes seeing a driver swerve or make erratic driving decisions.
Next, the hearing will consider whether there is a preponderance of the evidence that you broke Delaware’s DUI laws. A chemical DUI test that shows .08% or higher presence of alcohol in a person’s system is considered conclusive evidence that the person was under the influence of alcohol. The hearing will also consider whether you refused to take a chemical test after you were informed of the penalties for refusing the test.
When the defendant receives an unfavorable ruling at an administrative DUI hearing or fails to request the hearing, his or her driver’s license and driving privileges will be revoked for a specified period. For the first offense, the license will be revoked for three months. For the second offense, the license will be revoked for 12 months. For a third or subsequent offense, the license will be revoked for 18 months or more.
The First Offense Election Program
If you have been charged with your first DUI offense, you may be eligible for the first offense election program Instead of standing trial in a criminal courtroom. When you apply for this program, you will essentially admit guilt and waive your right to a speedy trial. You also have to meet specific additional requirements to apply for the program. Instead of serving any jail time, you will need to participate in an educational program and potentially go to outpatient treatment. There are alternative programs for mental health, as well.
Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer Today
The most important thing you can do after being arrested for a DUI is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The DUI process can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time offender. Contact Schwartz & Schwartz today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.