A Look at the DUI Basics
There are literally thousands and thousands of DUI arrests across the country every year. It can be one of the most dangerous crimes as well as over 10,000 people are killed in an accident involving drunk driving each year. In today’s blog we take a look at the basics of a DUI or drunk driving arrest in Indiana.
The BAC Charge
This is the number that is most promoted and advertised as the “legal” limit. If you blow over a .08 then you are committing the crime of driving with a BAC over .08 or more. BAC stands for blood alcohol content and .08 is the legal standard in most states where it has been determined to be too high of a level to safely operate a vehicle. When a police officer has reason to believe someone has been drinking and driving one of the tests they will do roadside is a PBT, or portable breath test. However, a PBT has been deemed to unreliable to be admissible in court. Therefore, the officer will take a suspect for a certified breath test or blood draw. It is the result of this test that can then be used to charge someone with a criminal offense. If the driver’s BAC is between .08 and .14 then the crime is a C misdemeanor. If the BAC is .15 or higher then it is a class A misdemeanor.
Regardless of your BAC, an officer can also charge you with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. In this charge the officer must essentially establish that your faculties have been impaired at such a level to affect your mental and physical abilities. In order to determine whether you are intoxicated, an officer will normally request a driver to do 3 separate and distinct field sobriety tests. These sobriety tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. First is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. In this test the officer will wave a pen across the face of a suspect having them follow the top of the pen with their eyes. In this test the officer is looking for nystagmus, or involuntary jerking of the eyeball. If the officer sees this nystagmus in the correct manner in each eye, then the officer will determine that the test is failed. Next is the walk and turn. In this test the suspect is asked to walk a straight line in a proscribed manner. Depending on how the suspect performs on the test and how many “clues” they exhibit, then the officer can consider that test a failure. Last is the one leg stand. Essentially in this test the driver is asked to raise one foot in the air and maintain their balance for 30 seconds. Again depending on how the driver does, they officer may score this a failure as well. After these tests, and usually a portable breath test, the officer will determine if the driver is intoxicated in their opinion. At that point the officer can charge the driver with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. If the driver was exhibiting unsafe driving behavior at the time of the stop, then the officer can charge the driver with operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person. The first charge is a C misdemeanor the second charge is a class A misdemeanor.
Defending a drunk driving arrest requires knowledge of the breath test instrument and the field sobriety tests. The Indianapolis DUI attorneys at Banks & Brower have worked as DUI prosecutors and even trained police officers on DUI law and arrests. If you find yourself charged with a DUI call Banks & Brower at 317-870-0019.