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YOUR GUIDING LIGHT IN A DARK HOUR

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Object Lessons Of Michael Phelps’ Latest DUI Arrest

The legal limit over which a charge of driving while intoxicated can be brought in the state of New Jersey is 0.08 percent. That’s the limit for most states, though in at least one jurisdiction, a “super drunk” charge can be brought if a suspect’s blood alcohol content is confirmed at 0.17 percent or more. The result can be enhanced penalties upon conviction — even on a first offense.

We highlight this issue because it illustrates that while the drunk driving laws in many states have common elements, the consequences can vary widely. In New Jersey, the potential penalties of a conviction can include stiff fines or the loss of your driver’s license. Jail time can’t be ruled out, either.

One particularly prominent recent allegation of driving under the influence seems to offer some specific legal lessons for any individual facing the possible array of charges that could be brought. It’s the case of Olympic medalist Michael Phelps. Readers may well be aware of Phelps’ arrest earlier this week for DUI in Baltimore.

As one legal observer for FindLaw notes, there are a number of lessons to keep in mind. They include:

  1. The risk of greater penalties if you have prior DUI convictions. Depending on the situation and the state, a prior conviction may make it difficult to seek a reduced sentence. Phelps reportedly has one prior DUI conviction from 10 years ago. He pleaded guilty and received probation, but it’s not clear that will be possible this time.
  2. You won’t avoid arrest by refusing to submit to field sobriety tests. There is no law on the books requiring a person to perform requested field sobriety tests in New Jersey, but refusing could be used against you in court.
  3. DUI arrests often stem from other infractions. What may begin as a police stop may lead to something more. The allegation against Phelps is that he was reportedly going 40 mph over the speed limit and was driving recklessly.

Perhaps the greatest lesson to glean from this or any other case is the value of hiring an experienced attorney.

Source: ESPN, “Michael Phelps’ breath test was .14,” Oct. 1, 2014

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