(U. S. Law and generally) Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious traffic violation and can lead to mandatory jail time. DUI is often mistakenly considered a driving while drunk offense. In reality, DUI occurs when you operate any vehicle under the influence of any substance that can impair your ability to drive. This includes illegal narcotics, prescription medications, and over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, in addition to alcoholic beverages. Most people assume that if they take an OTC remedy or a drug prescribed by the doctor, they are safe to drive. Sadly, many of these medications can impair your ability to drive, even with a single dose. For instance, one of the most common OTC drugs is for allergy relief. Allergy medicine, both in prescription form and OTC has an ingredient that can make you drowsy. A drowsy driver is an unsafe driver and is technically a DUI.
Being Charged With A DUI
Most police officers will tell you that they pull over a suspected DUI based on the way the person is driving. If they find that the blood alcohol test is negative, yet the driver still seems to be impaired, most will conduct a 15 minute observance test. If at that time they believe you are under the influence of any type of substance, they will charge you with a DUI.
A DUI in most states carries a mandatory fine and license suspension on the first offense. In some states, there is mandatory jail time associated with this charge, even for a first offense. Most judges will also impose community service in addition to any fines they levy against the charged. In Virginia, it is possible to plead down a DUI charge into lesser criminal offenses or even to traffic violations, depending upon the case specifics and which dui lawyers in Virginia you choose.
The reason that these penalties are so serious, even for first time offenders, is the hope that it will be a deterrent for further offenses. Drivers under the influence are responsible for a majority of fatal accidents on the freeways due to their impaired thought process. Any effort to reduce fatalities seems worth the effort.
If convicted, the person also faces an increase in their insurance premiums. In some states, such as Florida, the offender will have to carry a separate rider on their insurance policy because of the DUI conviction. In New Jersey, a conviction also means that you have to pay additional fines to the license bureau to get your driving privileges back for three consecutive years.
A DUI conviction can also impact your job. Some companies will not hire or promote a person that has been convicted of a DUI. If you drive a company vehicle, you may lose your job because of this conviction. This type of charge can affect your plans to enter into a profession that requires state board certification. As you can see, driving impaired has many consequences.
What You Should Do
It is easy to say that the best thing to do is avoid all medications that make you drowsy. However, this is not a reality. If you are suffering with an allergic reaction, you need to take medication. You will need to confirm with your doctor if it is alright to drive while using the medication. Nevertheless, when prescribed a new medication, take it where you can safely assess its affects before operating heavy machinery. If you are treating your symptoms with OTC drugs, make sure you pay attention to how they make you feel. If you are drowsy, stay from behind the wheel. If you must leave your home, make arrangements for a ride. Following these simple instructions will help you avoid an accident, injury or DUI conviction.
Kelly Dennie is a freelance author who likes to bring awareness to safety topics. The Wilson Law Firm dui lawyers in Virginia are experienced and interested in educating their clients about their state’s DUI laws. A selected attorney at the firm will discuss with each client the particulars in their case to analyze the best possible defenses. The legal advocate will not try to predict the outcome but help their client understand the potential penalties they are facing as the first stage to gaining control of the situation.