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DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence) are commonly interchangeable descriptions for the same offense and carry the same penalties; they are class one misdemeanors carrying a maximum period of incarceration of twelve months and a maximum fine of twenty-five hundred dollars, a mandatory license suspension of twelve months, and mandatory completion of an alcohol safety program. Depending on the level of your blood or breath alcohol level, mandatory minimums of confinement may also apply. The distinction between the two is the manner in which the Commonwealth will attempt to prove that the accused was unfit to drive.

Under the DWI portion of the statute, the Commonwealth will attempt to prove that the accused’s blood or breath alcohol content, taken from a test, was high enough, so that a judge can infer that the accused was too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle safely. However, an individual charged with having a .08 or above, should not assume that such a blood or breath test result automatically suffices to convict the accused of DWI. As former prosecutors, the attorneys at The Simms Firm, PLC who have prosecuted countless DWI’s, understand how to challenge the Commonwealth’s evidence. Furthermore, depending upon the facts and circumstances surrounding the accused’s stop and arrest, there may be sufficient evidence to overcome the Commonwealth’s case and to prove that you were not in fact intoxicated, notwithstanding your blood or breath alcohol level.

A DUI is charged when: 1) a person’s blood or breath alcohol content is below .08, but the there is other evidence that the officer believes can prove a person’s intoxication or; 2) a person is believed to be under the influence of a narcotic or other type of drug. In these cases, the Commonwealth seeks to prove that the accused was unfit to drive through an officer’s observations of the accused driving, appearance, balance, etc. Usually the Commonwealth attempts to prove their case through an officer’s testimony concerning the accused’s performance on field sobriety tests. These charges are sometimes referred to as “close call” cases. It is these types of offenses where it is vitally important to employ attorneys who have vast experience not only in defending these matters but also prosecuting them. There are several techniques that the attorneys at The Simms Firm, PLC can employ to build a substantial defense on behalf of the accused. Officers must have a legally valid reason to stop the accused’s vehicle. If the officer’s statements cannot support a legally valid reason for stopping the accused’s vehicle then the court must suppress the initial stop. This can lead to the exclusion of all evidence stemming from that initial stop.

The officer’s observations during the traffic stop must establish probable cause before he can arrest the accused for D.U.I or D.W.I. The attorneys at The Simms Firm, PLC can challenge the officer’s observations and instructions during the standardized field sobriety tests. If the officer’s statements and testimony do not establish that there was probable cause to make an arrest, then the evidence can be excluded. These are a few illustrations of the defense techniques used by The Simms Firm, PLC. As former prosecutors, our attorneys have the necessary knowledge to indentify and challenge the legal issues in each and every D.U.I/D.W.I case.