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DWI Penalties

Depending on where you live, a drunk driving offense may be called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), or operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OMVI). But regardless of what it’s called, it is a criminal act that carries severe criminal DWI penalties.

Most drunk driving charges are based on the amount of alcohol a driver has in his or her bloodstream—a calculation known as blood alcohol content, or BAC. Across the United States, it is against the law to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. As a result, any person who is caught driving with a BAC above this limit can be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. This means that, even though you may show no signs of impairment, you are legally drunk if you get behind the wheel.

So just how is BAC determined? In most cases, officers administer breathalyzers when they suspect a driver is under the influence of alcohol, although on occasion a blood or urine sample may be used instead. As the name suggests, a breathalyzer works by analyzing a person’s breath to determine the amount of alcohol present in his or her bloodstream.

If the results of this test indicate you have a BAC above the legal limit of 0.08%, you will most likely be arrested and charged with drinking and driving. Also, keep in mind that drivers under the age of 21 and commercial vehicle operators are typically subjected to much lower BAC guidelines, often ranging from 0.00% to 0.04%.

Although the penalties for DWI vary from state to state, in most areas, a first offense can result in hefty fines, a lengthy license suspension, and a possible jail sentence. If you are a repeat offender (meaning you have one or more prior DWI convictions on your record), or you were involved in an auto accident at the time of you arrest, you may face even harsher penalties for your offense.

If you were recently arrested for drunk driving, it is important to obtain legal counsel immediately. In many cases, a skilled DWI defense attorney can greatly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable resolution in court. Indeed, with the right defense strategy, many of those accused of driving under the influence are able to reduce or even eliminate the charges against them entirely.

Submit a free online case evaluation today to locate a skilled DWI defense attorney in your area.

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