Although drunkenness has been a source of comedy for hundreds of years—from Shakespeare’s Falstaff to the wildly popular Hangover movies—there’s nothing at all funny about driving a car if you’ve had too much to drink, used drugs, or done both. Driving under the influence places you, your passengers, and others on or near the road in serious danger.
Here are the statistics: in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, more than 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in the United States. In Ohio, 324 were killed and thousands more were injured in collisions involving impaired drivers. Clearly, the human cost of driving under the influence is incredibly high. That is why political leaders, law enforcement officials, and groups like MADD and SADD have worked hard to strengthen the laws and increase the penalties for driving under the influence in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
Because of their efforts and law enforcement’s increased focus on ending the carnage on the road caused by drunk driving, the number of DUI-related fatalities in the U.S. has declined by more than 44% since 1991. But as the death toll from drunk driving has plummeted, the price drivers pay for getting behind the wheel after drinking has skyrocketed. Fines, jail time, the duration of license suspensions, and insurance rates for those convicted of driving under the influence have increased substantially. Anyone who drives impaired now faces the very real possibility of serving jail time, losing their license for years, and paying crushing auto insurance premiums when they regain their driving privileges.
In light of these facts, the experienced legal team at Betras, Kopp, and Harshman has written two ironclad rules about driving under the influence:
Rule 1: Don’t Do It
Rule 2: If you do and you are arrested and charged, contact the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Betras, Kopp, and Harshman right away.
You need to call us right away because attempting to represent yourself in a case involving the incredibly complicated drunk driving laws that have been enacted in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida is, in a word, reckless. Why? Because being convicted of DUI, whether or not you’ve been involved in an accident, will have a negative impact on your life for years to come.
When you call Betras, Kopp, and Harshman our legal team will swing into action right away. We will be with you at your first hearing, ask the court to allow you to drive as your case works its way through the judicial system, investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and give you sound advice based on the experience we’ve gained representing thousands of defendants in DUI cases.
Here’s another important reason to call us: if we believe you should not have been arrested and charged with DUI we will use our expertise and knowledge of the law to have the charges dismissed or win an acquittal in court. And yes, as we note in our most recent blog post, it is possible to successfully defend an OVI/DUI charge in court– a fact underscored by a recent New York Times investigation that found that breathalyzer tests cannot be trusted.
Don’t allow one serious mistake to become a series of missteps that will alter your life and damage your future. If you are arrested and charged with DUI, contact the experienced legal team at Betras, Kopp, and Harshman right away.
Q: What is the difference between an OVI, OMVI, DUI?
Q: What rights do I have if I have been pulled over for DUI?
- The right to remain silent.
- The right to know that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
- The right to have an attorney assist you whenever you are questioned.
- The right to be represented by an attorney even if you can’t afford one.
With these basic rights in mind, consider the following if you are pulled over for DUI:
The officer must have a reason for pulling you over in the first place, but they have broad discretion in doing so. Suspicious behavior, abnormally slow driving, weaving in and out of lanes, or sudden lane changes may serve as sufficient justification for an officer to stop you.
Once pulled over you have the right to refuse to take a field sobriety test or to submit to a chemical test. Although you are free to exercise these rights, the refusal will lead to an immediate revocation of your driver’s license and an administrative suspension that may last a year or more.
If you believe that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit, you have the right to have an attorney present before you submit to a chemical test.
You have the right to have the charges against you explained to you at the time of your arrest so that you fully understand them.
Because you have the right to refuse to answer any questions, you have the right to request that your attorney be present during any questioning.
When you are detained at a police station or other location you have the right to make a phone call. Use it to call the experienced legal team at Betras, Kopp, and Harshman.
Q: I just got charged with a DUI and heard that penalties can include jail. Is this really likely?
- Minimum 3 days up to 6 months in jail or driver intervention program
- Fines of $375 up to $1,075
- Mandatory driver’s licenses suspension of 6 months to 3 years
- No driving privileges can be awarded for the first 15 days of the suspension
- Possible requirement of restricted license plates or ignition interlock device
- 6 points assessed against your Ohio driver’s license
In some circumstances, you may be sent to jail for a first time DUI if aggravating factors, such as the presence of a minor in the car or an extremely high BAC exist. In addition, a first DUI offense can become a felony offense it the incident results in bodily injury, death, or property damage.
But because the penalties for even a first time DUI are so severe it is important to contact Betras, Kopp & Harshman immediately after you are charged.
Q: What is a BAC?
Q: Is getting a DUI dismissed for improper BAC possible?
Q: What could be improper?
- The defendant can have a medical condition that could alter the results of the test
- The test kit could have been expired
- The person administering the test could be poorly trained
- The lab technician handling the sample could make a mistake
- The chain of custody of the evidence could be broken and therefore suspect
- The original stop by the police officer could have been without probable cause
It is critically important to remember, however, that overturning a BAC test requires the expertise, technical knowledge, and investigatory capacity of an experienced legal team like the attorneys at Betras, Kopp, and Harshman.