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Drunk Driving

President Donald Trump proclaimed December 2018 to be the National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. As the proclamation states, “Every day, lives are needlessly lost and irreparably altered by collisions involving drugs or alcohol. These horrible tragedies are avoidable, and each of us must make the responsible decisions to prevent them.”

Alcohol can reduce brain function, impair thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination which can interfere with your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Because of this risk it is illegal in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. The BAC is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. However, even if your BAC is lower than .08, you may face the same penalties as driving under the influence (DUI) if your ability to operate a motor vehicle, boat, or water craft is impaired because of alcohol or drugs.

In Virginia, if you are involved in a motor vehicle crash and a law enforcement officer has probable cause, you can be arrested for DUI within three hours of the crash without a warrant and at any location. For a first DUI offense and/or breath test refusal, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for seven days if your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher. For a second DUI offense and/or breath test refusal, your license will be automatically suspended for 60 days or until you go to trial, which ever comes first. For a third DUI offense and/or breath test refusal, your license will be automatically suspended until you go to trial. Conviction of a DUI offense will result in suspension of your driver’s license and other penalties in addition to the administrative suspension.

In Maryland, if you are stopped by a police officer and are suspected to be under the influence, the law enforcement officer may request that you to submit to a field sobriety test or portable breath test. If you are arrested for impaired driving, the officer will advise you of your rights and provide you with an Advice of Rights form before requesting that you submit to a chemical BAC test. If you test above 0.08 BAC, or refuse an officer’s request to submit to a chemical test for alcohol or drug use, you will be issued an Order of Suspension along with your traffic citation(s). The police officer will confiscate your Maryland driver’s license and may issue you a 45-day temporary paper license.

In Washington, D.C., driving while intoxicated (DWI) applies to a person having a BAC of .08 or higher. The suspect can be convicted in court based solely on the breath, blood or urine results without any structured field sobriety test. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) applies to a person having a blood alcohol concentration of .07 percent or lower. Under DC Code, a driver can be charged with a DUI offense if, in addition to a BAC reading, the officer has other signs of impairment from a structured field sobriety test and from observations of the suspect’s driving behavior.

Most jurisdictions have a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21 who are caught driving while impaired or intoxicated. Fines and penalties for DUIs and DWIs vary from state to state but often increase if you have more than one DUI. Even if you have failed a field sobriety test a lawyer likely can help reduce other penalties. The attorneys at Patriots Law Group have experience in handling DUIs.