Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) are both classified as legal offenses in the U.S. in each state. Driving while intoxicated or impaired is restricted and legal limits are set in each state determining the maximum allowance. For individuals who are at risk for being pulled over for either of these infractions it’s important to know your rights in the state where you reside. Drastic differences exist in each, here are a few tips to help you understand DUI laws in the U.S. and know your rights.
Each of the fifty states with laws defining it as a crime to drink and drive have a list of legal limits. Often there are multiple levels of DUI or DWI depending on the amount of alcohol in your system. Many of the legal limits are similar, at 0.08 or higher BAC defined as illegal and over .15 representing an extreme DUI or DWI.
Punishment for these infractions differs greatly throughout each state. For example a Los Angeles DUI attorney may get a client that receives a shorter jail sentence than an attorney in Arizona. Be sure you understand the differences state by state. Some require interlock or forfeiture, some will suspend your license for one year in addition to other punishments while some states only require a 90 day suspension. Understand what your state requires when an individual with a DUI or DWI is cited.
If you are pulled over and suspected of drunk driving there are many things you should know when you pull over.
- It’s in your best interest to treat the officer with respect. Roll down your window, keep your hands visible, turn off your engine, do not make any fast movements. Don’t start rummaging for your information, stay calm until the officer approaches.
- Don’t give the officer an excuse to search. If they see you reaching under the seat they may think you are trying to hide something, probable cause for a search.
- If the officer asks you to get out of the car do so. Police officers usually prefer that you stay in your car but if asked get out of the car.
- Don’t be nervous when speaking to the officer. Don’t speak first, and especially do not start off with a hostile tone “what’s the problem?”. Don’t have an attitude or speak disrespectfully. Let the officer start talking. Many individuals make the mistake of insisting on asking why they were pulled over before they comply. Don’t make that mistake, you’ll only create a worse situation for yourself.
- When pulled over first and foremost your safety is a right. Officers should not require you to pull over at a location where the traffic poses a threat to you.
- You have a right to remain silent. If you choose to answer questions by a police officer you do indeed have the right to not say anything that may incriminate you. Be courteous and mindful of your attitude.
- You have a right to ask, “am I free to go”.
There are many important laws that you should be mindful of when preparing yourself for a possible DUI or DWI. Plain and simple do not drink and drive! But if you find yourself in this situation make sure you understand your rights.