Traffic Law DUI/DWI Newsletters

Admissibility of Field Sobriety Tests in Drunk Driving Cases

There are three standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) that make up the Standardized Field Sobriety Test battery. They include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the "walk and turn" test, and the "one-leg stand" test. The HGN test refers to an involuntary jerking as the eyes gaze toward the side. When intoxicated, a person's smooth and accurate control of his or her eye movements will break down. The walk and turn test and the one-leg stand test are referred to as the "divided attention" tests, which simulate the mental and physical capabilities a driver needs to drive safely. Of the three FSTs, the HGN is considered the most reliable field sobriety test, especially when used in combination with the divided attention tests.

Criminal Offense of Failure to Assist an Injured Person

Motorists involved in any type of motor vehicle accident where personal injury or death occurs are required to remain at the scene until police arrive. All states have statutes setting out certain procedures a motorist must follow after involvement in a collision causing death or injury. Moreover, the statutes treat the term "accident" or "collision" to include all automobile collisions, intentional as well as unintentional.

Elements of OUI/OWI (Operating Under the Influence or While Intoxicated)

There are various statutory formulations used to describe the requisite elements of the criminal act of drunk driving. In a number of states, the requisite act consists solely of ''operating.'' These laws are known by the acronyms, OWI (driving while intoxicated) or OUI (driving under the influence).

Overview of Private Motor Vehicle Traffic Regulation

The ability to drive a motor vehicle on a public highway is not a fundamental right under the United States Constitution; it is a revocable privilege that is granted upon compliance with statutory licensing procedures. Whether the right to operate a motor vehicle it is termed a right or a privilege, one's ability to travel on public highways is always subject to reasonable regulation by the state in the valid exercise of its police power. Accordingly, state vehicle codes were promulgated to increase the safety and efficiency of public roadways, and it is viewed as an enhancement rather than an infringement upon a citizen's right to travel. The privilege properly may be revoked for noncompliance, and revocation is not an unconstitutional infringement of the revokee's right to travel.

Penalties for Felony DUI/DWI

The penalties for felony driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or driving while intoxicated (DWI) vary depending upon the state. Many of the states have adopted sentencing guidelines that are similar to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Under these guidelines, the states usually provide a sentencing range for each type of offense and provide aggravating and mitigating circumstances that can be used to increase or decrease the sentence.

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