Russo Law Offices

Drunk Driving/DUI Informaton Center

Frequently Asked Questions about Drunk Driving

Q: What is “blood-alcohol concentration” or “blood-alcohol level”?

A: Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is the level of alcohol in the bloodstream from drinking alcoholic beverages. BAC readings are used in court as evidence in drunk-driving cases. The most common method of measure is a breath test, although blood and/or urine testing is sometimes done. A result of .08 or higher may establish a presumption of intoxication. The details of the .08 BAC presumption laws vary among the states, but all 50 states have adopted .08 as their official intoxication level, in large part because of a federal threat of otherwise withholding highway funds.

Q: Can I refuse a Breathalyzer® test?

A: Every state has its own version of an implied consent law providing that a driver impliedly consents to alcohol testing just by the act of driving. In many states, a refusal to take a breath test is itself a criminal violation subject to stiff penalties. For example, refusing a breath test might result in automatic drivers-license suspension or revocation. If you are ultimately found guilty of a drunk-driving offense, there may be additional penalties because of the test refusal, such as a stiffer sentence. Your test refusal may also be used as evidence against you in a drunk-driving case.

The penalties for drinking and driving have become more severe, particularly for repeat offenders, who often face mandatory jail time. In many states, plea bargaining is restricted or banned in drunk-driving cases. Fines have increased and drivers license suspensions have lengthened. It is also harder to obtain a “hardship” license that allows a person only to drive to and from work. In this climate an experienced drunk-driving defense attorney is essential.

DUI Defense Attorney: Chicago and Wheaton, Illinois

A DUI charge can mean heavy fines, mandatory treatment, a criminal record and a blow to your reputation. Protect your rights and limit the damages of a DUI arrest. Contact DUI defense lawyer Richard Russo.

At the Russo Law Offices in Wheaton and Chicago, you can be assured of finding the right lawyer to help you with a DUI charge. Attorney Richard Russo, using all the resources of the Associated Legal Services Chartered, provides experienced representation for clients who require a personal injury lawyer or criminal defense lawyer.

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Overview of Crime of Drunk Driving

Each US state has its own set of drunk-driving laws, but there are certain concepts and features common to most states’ drunk-driving jurisprudence. Basically, as we all know, it is illegal and a crime for a person to operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol and/or drugs to a degree that impairs his or her safe driving ability and judgment. Both criminal and civil penalties for drunk driving can be harsh and often include:

  • Loss or suspension of license
  • Large fines
  • Substance-abuse treatment
  • Jail or prison time
  • Community service
  • Restitution
  • Criminal record
  • Restrictive probationary license programs, including ignition interlock devices and Cinderella licenses

In addition, the social stigma and effect on your career may have lifelong negative consequences.

The Role of Probation in Drunk-Driving Sentencing

Probation is by far the most common sentence for people convicted of drunk driving, especially for first-time offenders. Probation is a criminal sentence served in the community, rather than in jail or prison. Most states limit terms of probation to a maximum of five years. If you are facing a drunk-driving charge, an experienced lawyer can assist you with your defense and, if necessary, advocate for a fair sentence.

The Prosecutor’s Role in a Drunk-Driving Case

Prosecution refers to the government’s role in the criminal-justice system. When criminal activity is suspected, it is up to the government to investigate, arrest, charge and bring the alleged offender to trial. A prosecutor is a lawyer who works for the government and who is responsible for developing and presenting the government’s case against a criminal defendant. Prosecutors may be called county attorneys, city attorneys, district attorneys or states’ attorneys. Some jurisdictions may even have experienced police officers act as prosecutors in drunk-driving cases. The prosecutor is the opponent or “adversary” of the criminal defendant and his or her attorney; the two sides go head-to-head against each other in court.

Reliability of Breath-Test Results in a Drunk-Driving Case

In every state in the US, a driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is presumed to be legally intoxicated for drunk-driving purposes. Each state has also enacted an implied-consent law. Implied-consent laws provide that every licensed driver within the state is considered to have given his or her consent to chemical testing to determine his or her BAC whenever a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion of intoxication. In most states, refusal to submit to such a test results in license suspension or revocation.

The Impact of a Drunk-Driving Conviction on Your Auto Insurance

An alcohol-related car accident and subsequent drunk-driving conviction can bring many negative consequences into your life, possibly including jail or prison time, a criminal record, car repair or replacement, restitution, guilt and grief over harm to others, higher insurance premiums, a civil lawsuit, fines, court and administrative fees, community service, alcohol education, substance-abuse treatment, social stigma, restrictions on or revocation of your drivers license, attorneys fees, restrictive probation and others. If you are arrested for or charged with drunk driving, a criminal-defense lawyer can advise you about your legal rights and help you fight the charges.