Driving under the influence is not only against the law it is dangerous. What some do not realize is you can face charges for this offense even if you have not had a single drop of alcohol. An experienced DUI attorney can help you navigate proceedings stemming from an arrest and help you understand why the charges were brought in the first place.
Understanding Operating While Intoxicated Charges
Alcohol is obviously the most common reason for driving under the influence charges. However, if you are caught operating a motor vehicle after smoking marijuana or taking prescription drugs, even if you have a prescription, you can be charged.
Driving while intoxicated means that you have been operating a vehicle while impaired by either drugs or alcohol to a level in which you cannot operate the car safely. Because drugs, including prescription medications, can be responsible for the impairment, blood alcohol level tests are not always administered and entered into evidence.
If you take prescription medications such as opioids and benzodiazepines, you shouldn’t operate machinery until you are certain how the drugs will affect you. These medications have potential side effects of excessive drowsiness. You should also talk to your doctor if you are required to operate a vehicle as part of your job description. You should notify your employer as well if you are taking these pills.
What Your DUI Attorney Should Tell You
Of course, if you find yourself facing operating under the influence charges, you should find a reputable DUI attorney. This person should be an expert in handling not only alcohol related cases but instances where you may be charged for being impaired by medication. It is one of the many questions you should be asking when you interview different lawyers to represent you.
One of the things that your new DUI attorney should do is explain what penalties the charges carry. While each state is different on how they punish the crime, all of them have some sort of fine and possible restriction on your license for a period. Typically, a first offense will see you losing your license for anywhere from a few months to a year and paying a heavy fine to the state. You may even have to take classes to have your license reinstated. Usually, your punishment will include some community service.
If this is not your first offense, you may be looking at jail time. Your lawyer will know exactly how much you will be facing, but it could range from a few days to a few years depending on the charges. You should speak to your representative about any deals that may commute your sentence if possible.
There is a lot of important information that your DUI attorney should go over with you. While an experienced lawyer won’t give you a firm answer on what your chances of winning the case will be, at least not at first, he or she should be able to tell you the possible consequences so you can know how you want to proceed.