Whether it's a misdemeanor or felony charge, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense. Not only do you face steep penalties, but also you put your life and the lives of others at risk.
Yet, while the seriousness of DUI is common knowledge, an alarmingly high number of accident-related deaths are still directly caused by drivers who are under the influence.
Effects of Alcohol & Drugs on Driving
Driving cars is such a big part of our everyday lives—it can be easy to forget that when you're behind the wheel, you are operating a heavy and potentially dangerous machine. Driving requires all of your focus.
When driving under the influence, the alcohol or drugs take a majority of your focus away, making it much more likely that you will cause a tragic accident.
Alcohol Effects & Limits
Alcohol acts as a depressant on the body's central nervous system, meaning it lowers inhibitions and impairs your judgment.
More specifically, alcohol leads to:
- Coordination loss.
- Impaired reflexes.
- Blurred vision.
- Memory lapses.
Drug Effects & Limits
Unlike the effects of alcohol, we can't concretely nail down the effects of drugs because there are so many different types of drugs, each bringing its own host of side effects.
Depending on the drug, common side effects include:
- Blurred vision.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Delayed reaction times.
- Problems focusing.
Consequences of DUI Accidents
If you are driving under the influence and you cause an accident, you can expect to face harsh criminal penalties. Additionally, you are likely to face a civil suit from those injured or harmed as a result of the crash.
Common DUI or DWI Penalties
Regardless of whether your conviction is a misdemeanor or felony, you can expect severe penalties, which include:
- Hefty fines.
- Driver license suspension or revocation.
- State laws and other factors—such as the number drunk driving convictions you have or the severity of the DUI accident—could mean your driving privileges are never restored, and/or that your conviction could stay on your driving record for years... or even forever.
- Issues with your driving record.
- Generally, DUI accidents equal a high number of points on your driving record.
- Depending on your state (and whether the conviction is a misdemeanor or felony), the conviction could stay on your driving record for life.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device.
- Alcohol and/or drug counseling programs.
- Jail sentences.
The harshness of each penalty depends on whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. For example, a misdemeanor offense might not cost as much as a felony offense; similarly, you're more likely to receive a longer prison sentence for a felony than you would for a misdemeanor.
Again, this all depends on your state's laws.
You can expect to be held responsible for damages you cause in a DUI-related accident. A person involved in the accident has the right to file suit against you for these damages. You will likely be asked to pay a large lump sum that could cover:
- Medical bills.
- Property damage.
- Loss of income.
- Emotional distress.
Hiring a DUI Lawyer
By now, you're probably convinced that hiring a DUI lawyer is your best course of action. States don't take DUI accidents lightly, and a skilled drunk driving attorney can represent you in court much more successfully than you can represent yourself. Because of his or her experience with your specific state's DUI or DWI laws, your attorney might even be able to lessen some of your penalties.