In the last 35 years, the overall rate of drunk driving has been cut in half. Although almost 30 million Americans recently reported that they have operated a vehicle — automobile, truck, golf cart, or bicycle — under the influence of alcohol, statistics show a remarkable drop in alcohol-related fatalities.
While even the best criminal defense attorney may be willing to take cases where the driver was clearly impaired, the best defense in drunk driving cases may be to avoid operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Several states have passed stringent new DUI laws; in some areas of the country, law enforcement officials can immediately suspend a driver’s license if they refuse to take a field sobriety test. In addition to license suspension, a driver may face fines of more than $1,500. Men are still about twice as likely as women to become involved in an alcohol-related collision, and studies show that alcohol- or drug-related accidents occur across America at a rate of one accident every two minutes.
In some states, new DUI laws allow for the arrest and arraignment of a driver who is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Referred to as “probable cause,” the new laws allow law enforcement officials to make arrests without engaging drivers in field sobriety tests. Drivers can also pass standard roadside sobriety tests and still be arrested.
The financial toll of intoxicated driving is close to $200 billion yearly, and state governments may have more incentive than ever to keep the highways clear of drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Drivers who are facing multiple DUI convictions are naturally motivated to find a good lawyer, who should be familiar with different DUI laws by state.
Sports enthusiasts are advised to keep in mind that in several states, the operation of recreational vehicles like ATVs, snowmobiles, and bicycles is prohibited under new DUI laws. Drivers under the age of 21 should also be aware that they may face a lower legal blood alcohol limit than older drivers, and driving while intoxicated — even one time — could put them in a position to permanently lose their drivers’ licenses.
If a driver finds that they need to challenge a conviction, a criminal defense firm will have legal authority to subpoena traffic records and challenge breathalyzer results. A DUI attorney can also work with drivers to determine whether they should enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty;” drivers who are arrested for intoxicated driving should immediately place a phone call to a qualified law office and ask for representation, experts advise.
Overall, the toll of operating a vehicle while intoxicated can be severe. New financial penalties are designed to make drivers think twice before driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Although the rate of drunk driving is half of what it was 35 years ago, two out of every three Americans is likely to be involved a collision involving drugs or alcohol every year. Criminal defense attorneys are more than willing to help drivers navigate the court system, but are also hoping for a reduction in the number of drunk driving cases they see every year.