Frequently Asked Questions About Drunk Driving Charges

1. Is a DUI arrest something like a major traffic ticket?

It is a more accurate to think of a DUI case as a criminal matter that may also affect the status of your driver's license.

2. What does DUI mean? What does DWI mean?

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and driving while intoxicated are two ways of describing impaired driving. The terms DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably to refer to alleged "drunk driving."

3. How does a DUI case usually start?

The typical beginning of a DUI case may be:

  • A traffic stop during which a police officer suspects you are driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Special circumstances such as the aftermath of a crash on a street or highway, or after a boating accident when you were at the wheel

Beware: Even if you are already stopped — that is, parked in a parking lot, in a driveway or by the side of the road — you may be charged with DUI. Therefore, if you have been drinking, it is advisable not to sit or sleep in your car.

4. What kinds of field sobriety tests and chemical tests are common during traffic stops on suspicion of DUI?

Field sobriety tests are typically performance tests that a police officer uses to obtain evidence that you may have been driving while intoxicated. Typical nonchemical tests include:

  • "Walk the line"
  • Horizontal gaze
  • Stand on one leg
  • Verbal performance tests such as reciting the alphabet backward

Chemical tests may involve measurement of alcohol in your body through your:

  • Breath
  • Blood
  • Urine

5. What does blood alcohol content (BAC) mean?

BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol in your blood. It is a measure used to verify the likelihood of impairment and justify drunk driving charges.

6. What happens if a driver refuses to take a field sobriety test or a chemical test?

Refusal to take a blood, breath or urine test is illegal according to Pennsylvania's "implied consent" laws. Refusing may affect your driving privileges. You may have to pay fines and/or serve jail time. Refusal to submit to a field sobriety test is not technically required, but may lead to other allegations if the refusal is not calm and polite.

7. "I drive a truck for a living. Should I worry about a DUI that occurs while I'm driving my own car during my time off?"

Yes, you should take DUI charges very seriously, whether you were driving a commercial vehicle or your private car when you were arrested. The outcome of your case may put your commercial driver's license (CDL) at risk. Your need for legal counsel is urgent if you have been accused of drunk driving.

8. "When should I call a lawyer?"

As soon as possible! The earlier you have an attorney advising you, the greater options you will have for the best results attainable in your case.

For Answers To Your Additions To Our DUI FAQ

Serving York County and beyond, Griest, Himes, Herrold, Reynosa LLP invites you to add to our frequently asked questions with your own concerns. Call us at 717-900-5677 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience.