What is a DUI Conviction?
Conviction is a law term that indicates a court has found a person guilty of the charges brought against him. A DUI conviction results from charges of driving under the influence. Every state and the District of Columbia has laws that make it illegal to drive while under the influence of intoxicating substances.
State governments have the authority to set a maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) level for those who operate vehicles. When a person is caught driving with a BAC above that limit, he can be arrested and tried for violating the state’s drunk driving laws. If he is found guilty of those charges, he will have a DUI conviction.
Alcohol is not the only substance that can result in a DUI conviction. It is also generally illegal to drive while intoxicated by chemical substances. This can include both legal and illegal drugs. Test results usually weigh heavily in such cases. Although limits are not generally specified for chemical substances, there are tests that can confirm their presence in a person’s system.
A DUI conviction can carry numerous consequences. Penalties vary from one jurisdiction to another. Generally, there is a risk of incarceration and probation for a first offense and mandatory incarceration for multiple convictions. Fines and the payment of court costs are commonly ordered. It is also likely that a DUI conviction will result in some period of driver’s license suspension.
There are a number of other actions that a court may order. People are often ordered to perform community service. The vehicles they drove while under the influence may be impounded. Furthermore, those who appear to have substance abuse problems may be ordered into treatment programs.
The classification of a DUI conviction is determined by each state. Some states classify such crimes as misdemeanors but they can be upgraded to felonies if certain circumstances apply. Things that may make the classification more severe include injuring another individual while driving under the influence or having multiple previous convictions.
A DUI conviction can affect a person’s employment. This can be the case when a person has a position that involves driving. Since his driver’s license is likely to be suspended, he is unlikely to be able to perform his duties. Some jurisdictions may offer special permits that allow a person to effectively continue working. These may not be available everywhere, however, and they may only be available in certain circumstances.
@cardsfan27 - I don't think the actual substance itself has any effect on the DUI conviction itself. At the same time, if you were smoking marijuana or something, you would have to deal with a possession charge in addition to the DUI. Likewise, being under 21 and getting a DUI usually carries a lot harsher penalty than being over 21.
I'm curious how everyone feels about how the punishments are doled out. Basically, the law now is more concerned with strictly punishing offenders instead of stopping it in the first place.
At least for me and most the people I know, DUI laws aren't well known. Even what constitutes a felony DUI conviction varies. I have known plenty of people who have probably driven when they shouldn't have, and none of them have ever gotten pulled over. Increasing the punishments doesn't stop DUIs, because most people don't know what the punishments are in the first place. If they really want to stop it, they just need to start making it a much higher likelihood of getting caught if you do drive drunk.
@jmc88 - I have actually heard about that problem. I am curious how it is being handled. It really puts everyone in a tough situation. The people weren't really doing anything illegal by taking the recommended dosage of the sleeping pills. It wasn't like using illegal drugs. On the other hand, the police can't just let someone go who classifies as being under the influence of drugs.
I don't really know how lenient courts are on this type of thing. I guess it really comes down to the state's attorney and whether they feel sorry for the person and decide to drop charges. In any case, I assume the really legal battle is going to be against the companies that make the pills.
As far as being convicted of DUI, does the type of intoxicating substance have any effect on the final punishment or are they all treated the same?
@Emilski - If you never drink and drive, there should really be no reason to worry about the laws anyway. It is interesting about the punishments, though. Do you have any idea what happens if someone who is completely sober resists the test? Is refusing the test an arrestible offense in and of itself? I could see the point with someone who is drunk, though. If they don't take the test, you never know their BAC, so you don't know the necessary charges, so it makes sense to charge them with the strictest penalties, or as you described, even stricter than the normal penalties.
I was wondering if anyone here had heard the stories about various sleep aids causing people to get DUI arrests. Apparently, people have been taking sleeping pills at the recommended doses and everything, but it causes them to sleep walk. There have been a few people who have actually started driving and been arrested.
One thing that wasn't mentioned here is that it is always illegal to refuse a blood alcohol test if it is presented. Obviously, there should be probable cause on the part of the officer to recommend it, but once it is requested, you have to do it or else the punishments will be stricter.
I'm not really sure what the reasoning is behind enforcing stricter punishments, but there should really be no reason someone would refuse. If you know that you are sober and the officer is wrong, just take the test to prove it. If you know that you shouldn't be driving, take it, because the officer clearly knows you shouldn't be driving, and you'll be arrested anyway and now have harsher penalties.
This is the case everywhere I have lived, at least. I assume it is a fairly common practice. In any case, I think it is important to know DUI laws in your area so you know your rights.
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