Traffic Law DUI/DWI Newsletters
It is illegal to drive a vehicle on a street or highway without a valid driver's license. The right to drive an automobile on public roads is a privilege and not a right. The right to operate a motor vehicle is granted by the state, and its use depends upon the motorist complying with the conditions prescribed in granting the license.
Drunk driving defendants have challenged the constitutionality of the states' dual use of administrative license suspension (ALS) statutes and criminal driving while intoxicated (DWI) prosecutions with the so-called Double Jeopardy Drunk Driving defense.
There are certain defenses that can be raised by a motorist charged with the offense of drunk driving, either driving while under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). One such defense is the "necessity" defense. This defense, which is sometimes referred to as ''choice of evils,'' and ''competing harms'' defenses, is presented when the motorist admits that he or she drove while intoxicated, but did so under threatening circumstances. The necessity defense exculpates the motorist for conduct that would otherwise be a crime when the motorist engages in the conduct in order to prevent something worse from occurring.
The United States Congress passed the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, which required states to enact and enforce zero-tolerance laws aimed at individuals under the age of 21 (a "juvenile") who have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or greater while operating a motor vehicle. This federal law required states to pass zero-tolerance legislation as a condition for receiving federal transportation funds.
Vehicular homicide is a serious crime with serious penalties. The penalties for this crime vary depending on the state where the homicide occurred, the degree of the homicide, and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances. Vehicular homicide can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense.