Getting convicted for a DUI can cause a whirlwind of trouble in your professional and personal life. After all, there are plenty of things to consider, including your record, fees, license suspension, and more. And while it’s never something you want to deal with, understanding how it works and how to separate the facts from fiction can help prevent you from making a critical mistake. With that in mind, here are four common myths about DUIs:
You Can Smoke & Drive
The idea that you can smoke and drive is one of the most common myths surrounding DUIs. Many states have legalized marijuana, and others on the way, which has led to some hazy understandings of what it means to drive under the influence. But the fact is, driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime in every state, even in states where it’s legal. This is because DUI laws across the nation make it illegal to drive while you’re impaired with any drug, including cannabis.
There are two ways that marijuna laws apply to DUI convictions: per se laws, and impairment laws. Per se marijuana DUIs are proven with blood tests, and if a prosecutor can prove that there was THC in your system, it doesn’t matter if the marijuana actually affects your ability to drive. So long as there was cannabis in your system, you’ll be convicted based on the amount.
Impairment DUIs aim to prove that cannabis affected your ability to drive, and this is easier to prove in some cases than others. For example, proof that marijuana affected the driver in some way is all it takes for a conviction in some states, while in others, the prosecution must show substantial proof.
You Have to Take the Breathalyzer Test
The truth is, you do not have to take the breathalyzer tests or perform any sobriety tests if you don’t want to. However, if you decide not to consent, understand that there can be serious consequences. In each state, although you have the right to refuse, doing so can result in other penalties—even if you are not ultimately convicted of a DUI.
Furthermore, refusing to take the test does not mean that evidence against you will be eliminated in court. The officer can also arrest you for refusing to cooperate, and in some cases, a refusal can mean the immediate suspension of your license. Depending on the law in your state, you can face between six months and a year of suspension.
Some states have even gone as far as implementing “no refusal” policies, which allows them to immediately obtain blood tests (which offer far more accurate readings) or search warrants in potential drunk driving cases where the driver refuses to cooperate with sobriety or breathalyzer tests. Lastly, in some jurisdictions, your refusal to take the breathalyzer test is considered evidence of your guilt.
According to JulianSandersLaw.com, if you are insistent on not taking the breathalyzer test, understand the risks associated with your actions and inform the officer that you’d like to call your lawyer. Get your lawyer on the phone immediately and refrain from saying anything potentially incriminating to the police, who likely has a dash cam. Most importantly, stay poised and calm.
You Can Get a DUI for Under a .08
The acceptable blood alcohol content level is .08 across the United States, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get charged with driving under the influence under a .08. Despite this nationwide standard legal blood limit, if an officer can prove that you were under the influence and it had a negative impact on your impairment, you can certainly end up on the losing side of a court case. This is especially true for motorists. This is exactly what happened in Portland, Oregon when one officer pulled over a man named Si Xuan Vo, who went on to “miserably” fail three sobriety tests, despite blowing only a .07 on the breathalyzer test. He also answered his cell phone multiple times during the tests, which the officer had never encountered before. His trial lasted just two days, and in the end, he was unanimously convicted of driving under the influence.
It Can’t Happen to You
If you’ve ever gotten away with drunk driving before—and did a pretty decent driving job in the process—chances are you’ve fallen victim to the “it can’t happen to me syndrome.” Or worse—maybe you’ve called yourself a “great drunk driver.” But the fact is, it can happen to you and the statistics demonstrate this.