If you have been drinking and driving, you are probably wondering what you’re going to get yourself into. Many people start off by assuming they’ll be out of trouble because they’re in the clear based on their blood alcohol level. Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case. Most drunk driving accidents result in severe injury or fatality.

“Affluently drunk” is the operative term here. We’ve all heard the expression, “Blow, blows!” Affluently drunk, meaning guilty, is a phrase that pops up regularly in drunk-driving courtrooms. When I say” innocently drunk” I’m referring to being legally drunk at the time of the arrest. The level of alcohol in your blood exceeds the legal limit by enough to make you guilty of driving while intoxicated. So what you did wasn’t merely “blowing.”

Another common error is one of omission. You didn’t stop at the first stop sign and wait for the officer to give you a ticket. You didn’t yield the right of way or, in other words, you did not follow the law by the time you reached the side of the road with the green light. If you are guilty of this, it’s likely that the penalties for first-time drunk driving offenses are higher than the penalties for second and third time offenders. If you’ve been arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence (DUI), a state law known as ignition interlock device (IID) can potentially save you from jail time and a significant number of points on your driving record.

The common law jurisdictions are New York, California, Florida, Texas, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Mexico, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. These are the states where drunk driving conviction is taken very seriously. In these states, attorneys are accustomed to negotiating plea bargains with prosecutors. In many instances, you can get your charges reduced or, in some cases, be eligible for a plea bargain whereby your charges are dropped altogether. In other states, your attorney may even be able to negotiate a plea bargain outside the confines of the criminal justice system.

An additional problem you may face is ineffective representation. In many of the above-mentioned states, the legal profession is dominated by a few large and highly expensive firms that represent just a small percentage of the population. Because of this, many people find that the lawyer they eventually choose is unsatisfactory and, in some cases, even incompetent.

Finally, even though most attorneys take great pride in their legal services, there are those who are willing to practice malpractice. You may not always be able to protect yourself against a disbarred attorney. That said, you should be aware that in some common law jurisdictions, you have absolutely no legal protection and have no recourse against a disbarred attorney.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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