When it comes to DUI, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there. Urban myths abound, from which types of alcohol are necessary for a DUI to the penalties someone can face after being convicted.
Let's take a look at some common misconceptions about DUI and arrests and dispel them once and for all.
What, Exactly, Is a DUI?
DUI is an acronym for for “driving under the influence.” This is defined as a person operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. The substance itself does not matter. Whether you are on legal prescription drugs or blind drunk off whisky, if any chemical impairs your driving, you could be arrested.
DUIs have serious consequences that you want to avoid. A single conviction for a DUI could result in steep penalties such as jail time, expensive fines, increased insurance premiums, and even the loss of your license. In addition, DUI convictions may stay on your record for years and can haunt you when looking for employment or housing.
Myth #1 – You Get a DUI Only If You’ve Been Drinking
Alcohol is not the only substance that can make driving dangerous. Most states have zero-tolerance laws against any impaired driving. Drugs, alcohol, and even prescription medications could result in a DUI. If your bodily functions are affected, or you’re exhibiting any sort of impairment, the legal system sees no difference in what caused the impairment.
Myth #2 – A First-Time DUI Offense is Always Minor
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, the severity of your offense can be steep. It doesn’t matter if this is your first or fifth DUI. Details such as your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level affect the penalties. The higher the BAC, the worse the punishments can be.
Penalties for a DUI can result in:
- Jail time
- Hefty fines
- Drivers' license suspensions
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- Court-ordered classes at the driver’s expense
Myth #3 – You Don’t Need an Attorney for a DUI Charge
A DUI charge is a serious offense, with long lasting consequences. Navigating the legal system and paperwork without an attorney is tricky, stressful, and time-consuming.
An experienced lawyer can help you understand the charges against you, and they can take steps to minimize or even avoid criminal convictions. Through negotiations with prosecutors and courts, they can help use the legal system to protect your innocence.
A skilled lawyer who focuses on DUI cases has access to resources and arguments that can work in your favor. It may be tempting to go at it alone, but hiring an attorney is your best chance at a positive outcome.
Myth #4 – You Can Beat a Breathalyzer Test By Chewing Gum or Using Mouthwash
Chewing gum and using mouthwash may seem like an easy fix for beating a breathalyzer test, but unfortunately, this is just untrue. These items do not mask or neutralize the presence of alcohol.
Gum and mouthwash can give you false confidence before the test, and they can even make your results higher than expected. Ingredients like sugar can change test results, and most mouthwashes already contain alcohol! A breathalyzer calibrates any amount of alcohol in a person’s system regardless of its source. If you’ve consumed anything with alcohol content, no amount of minty-freshness will help you beat a breathalyzer.
Myth #5 – A DUI Remains on Your Record Permanently
Many states allow for the expungement of DUI charges after a certain time has passed. Some even allow people to seal their records completely, allowing only law enforcement to view the case details. A good attorney can help you delete or reduce your DUI record.