What are the Differences between DUI and DWI in the State of Idaho?
If you are older, you may be more familiar with the term DWI—driving while intoxicated. At one time, this was the accepted term across the United States. Then people started driving while under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol, and most states changed to the term DUI, or driving under the influence. “Influence” being either drugs (legal or illegal) or alcohol. Some states use the terms OWI (operating while intoxicated) or OUI (operating under the influence), butregardless of the acronym, the meaning is the same—your ability to control your motor vehicle was impaired.
Were You Actually “In Control” of Your Vehicle?
Like most people, you may be shocked to find out that you don’t actually have to be driving in order to be charged with DUI. Idaho, like many other states, makes it a crime not only to drive under the influence, but to be in actual physical control of a vehicle and be under the influence. This means if you are in your car sleeping it off, but the keys to the vehicle are readily accessible to you, you could be deemed to be “in control” of the vehicle and could be charged with a DUI. Therefore, driving or operating—or sometimes just sitting or sleeping behind the wheel of a motor vehicle—or a motorcycle, tractor or golf cart—can result in your being placed in the back of a police cruiser and charged with DUI.
Criminal Penalties You May Face for a Boise DUI Conviction
DUI penalties in the state of Idaho can be harsh. For a first-time DUI conviction (a misdemeanor) you could face:
- Jail time up to six months;
- Fines as high as $1,000;
- Probation for up to six months, and
- A license suspension from 90 to 180 days.
A second DUI conviction (a misdemeanor) within ten years of the first could result in:
- Ten days’ mandatory jail time, up to a year maximum;
- Fines and fees as high as $2,000;
- A license suspension for one year with absolutely no driving privileges, and
- A mandatory interlock ignition device installed on your vehicle.
For a third DUI conviction (a felony violation) within ten years of the first or second, you could face:
- Thirty days’ mandatory jail time, up to five years;
- Fines and fees up to $5,000;
- A mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and
- A license suspension up to five years, with one year mandatory following release from jail.
You could be sentenced to enhanced penalties if you are convicted of aggravated DUI for injuring another person while driving under the influence or if your BAC levels were 0.20 percent or higher. If you are under the age of 21, your driver’s license could be suspended or revoked for one year following your first DUI conviction, plus you are subject to many of the same penalties as those over the age of 21. Commercial vehicle drivers will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year for a BAC which is 0.04 percent or higher, plus, if you have any amount of detectable alcohol in your blood, you will be issued an “out-of-service” order for 24 hours. If you are convicted of a second DUI, you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life, plus you will face the “normal” penalties for DUI convictions in the state of Idaho.
Further Consequences of a DUI Conviction
You could lose many other personal freedoms if you are convicted of a DUI in the state of Idaho. You might be unable to purchase a firearm, obtain a passport, work with children, obtain employment, obtain a government student loan, and you might not even be able to obtain a professional license you have worked hard for. It is also likely that your auto insurance premiums will go so high as to be unaffordable in some cases. Your insurance company might also drop you completely, making it extremely difficult to find another insurance company who will insure you.
Potential Defenses and Challenges to Your DUI Charges
Of course, the specific defense your DUI attorney will use on your behalf will depend on the circumstances of your DUI arrest, however some of the more commonly-used defenses to DUI charges include:
- Perhaps you weren’t actually driving, and the officer cannot prove you were “in control” of your vehicle—in other words, the issue might be debatable, based on the circumstances.
- The police officer may not have had legal justification to stop you in the first place.
- The police officer may not have followed proper legal procedures during your arrest. If this is the case, any evidence he or she garnered from the stop or arrest may be deemed inadmissible.
- The police officer had no probable cause to stop, detain or arrest you. Perhaps you believe you were stopped only because of your race or ethnicity, rather than because you were driving erratically or appeared to be intoxicated.
- The police officer who arrested you may not have properly Mirandized you after your arrest—that is, the officer may not have told you that you had the right to remain silent, and that anything you said would be used against you. If no Miranda warning was given, certain evidence may be excluded at trial.
- If the officer claims you had bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, you may be able to show those symptoms are from prescription medication you are taking, or from a medical condition.
- If the officer claims you did not do well on the field sobriety tests, you may be able to show you had a legitimate reason for that, such as an illness, your age, a medical condition, your footwear, your nervousness, confusing instructions from the officer, or a prescription drug or over the counter drug you are taking.
- The Breathalyzer machine used was not properly calibrated, or the officer who administered the test was not properly trained in using the machine.
Your DMV Administrative Review Hearing
If you are arrested for DUI in the state of Idaho, you have only seven days from the date of your arrest to request a license hearing. If you fail to request the hearing within that seven-day period, you could be subject to an automatic suspension of your license. Your ALS hearing is completely separate from your actual DUI criminal case, and only deals with your driver’s license. Even if you win your ALS hearing and get your driver’s license reinstated, it could only be temporary. A license suspension can still be ordered during your criminal case.
Will I Qualify for an Idaho Hardship License?
In some cases you may be able to apply for an Idaho hardship license which allows you to drive to and from work or school if your driver’s license has been revoked due to a DUI. You will be required to provide an application, license reinstatement fees, verification of employment and proof of insurance. If you are granted a hardship license, your permit may be limited to days or times of driving, geographic areas, or specified travel purposes.
How to Get Your License Reinstated Following a DUI Conviction
Beyond obtaining a hardship license to drive to and from work or other necessary places, once your revocation period is over, you will want to have your driver’s license reinstated. To complete reinstatement requirements, you must pay a $130 reinstatement fee and provide proof of financial responsibility for three years from the day of your revocation. If you are dealing with a second DUI conviction, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device placed on any vehicle you regularly drive before reinstatement.
How Having an Experienced DUI Attorney by Your Side Can Result in a More Positive Outcome
Even if—or perhaps especially if—you have decided to plead guilty to your DUI, it could potentially change the way you are thinking to first speak to a knowledgeable DUI attorney. If nothing can change your mind about pleading guilty, then perhaps you don’t need an attorney, however if you want to vastly increase your chances of a more positive outcome to your DUI charges, you absolutely need an attorney. An experienced Idaho DUI attorney can plea bargain on your behalf, possibly to a reckless driving charge or a “wet reckless.”
Since the penalties and consequences are much more lenient than for a DUI, this could be a good option for you, potentially even allowing you to save your driving privileges, while avoiding jail and very high fines. In addition to plea bargaining on your behalf, your attorney can also “sentence bargain.” This means you could plead guilty, but only if the prosecutor offers a lesser sentence. All in all, having an experienced Idaho DUI defense attorney by your side from start to finish can make the process much less frightening. Your attorney will fight zealously on your behalf, ensuring your rights are fully protected throughout the process. Call an Idaho DUI defense lawyer with Trilogy Law Group at 1-208-914-6763 today or fill out the confidential contact form for more information.