How a DWI can Affect Your Life

The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is 0.08%. This is observed in all US states and enforced on all drivers aged at least 21 years old (for truck drivers and all other commercial vehicle drivers, the limit is 0.04% and for those under 21 years in age, it is zero tolerance). Thus, anyone who will be caught with a BAC level above the stipulated limits can be charged with DWI, which means driving while intoxicated – a serious traffic violation to which heavy penalties are imposed.

DWI or DUI (driving under the influence, the term used in some states) has been identified by the NHTSA as among the top causes of car accidents, which go beyond five million every year (other major causes of accidents are reckless driving, overspeeding, driver error and driving distraction, which is particularly topped by texting or use of a cellphone while driving).

According to the website of the Law Offices of Richard A. Portale, P.C., anyone convicted of a DWI offense can suffer costly fines, time in jail, suspension or revocation of license, mandatory attendance in a DUI/DWI school and community service. In cases wherein the violation involves injuries to, or death of, an innocent victim, or if the violation has been committed repeatedly, the court can require the driver to acquire an SR-22 form, otherwise known as Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR) form. The SR-22 last for three years and requires higher auto liability insurance premiums. The court can also require that an Ignition Interlock (also known as Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device or BAIID) be installed in the violator’s vehicle. This device, which has a pre-determined limit of 0.02%, is particularly designed to detect the presence of alcohol in the driver’s breath. If alcohol is detected, then the device will prevent the vehicle from starting.

DWI is a serious offense that no driver will want to be convicted of (considering the fact that even a charge can affect a person’s future even long after the offense has been committed). Thus, it is absolutely important that, if ever charged with this type of offense, the driver should contact only a highly-competent lawyer for the strong defense that may save him/her from a possible conviction or maximum penalties.

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Facts about SR-22

First of all, let’s talk about what an SR-22 is and isn’t. An SR-22 is a guarantee issued by a car insurance company that you will be able to meet the minimum insurance requirements for operating a vehicle for a specified period of time (typically 3 to 5 years depending on the violation). If you are violation-free for that prescribed period, you will not be required to obtain another SR-22 but can get regular car insurance. If you get any violations in that period, your SR-22 requirement will probably be extended.

An Sr-22 is sometimes called a certificate of financial responsibility. It is not, though, an insurance policy as we know it. For one thing, there is no ID card that typically comes with insurance coverage. For another thing, it is way more expensive and difficult to obtain than standard car insurance. However, because it has to be issued by a car insurance company which guarantees coverage in case of accidents, to all intents and purposes it is an insurance policy.

An SR-22 is usually required to lift the suspension of a driver’s license because of serious and/or numerous traffic violations. The more common reasons for needing an SR-22 include:

  • DUI conviction
  • Driving without insurance coverage
  • Responsible for a serious car accident
  • Too many violation points on the driving record

Applying for one requires the following steps:

  1. Inform your insurer your license has been suspended
  2. Get a risk rating reassessment.
  3. Choose the type of insurance coverage you will buy as long as it is compliance with minimum state requirements.
  4. Pay the premium and send the SR-22 to the local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Not all states require SR-22. If you are required an SR-22 in order to operate a vehicle legally in your state, it means that you’re a high-risk driver. You will need to apply for it through your car insurer and because you are high-risk, your insurer may not want to accommodate you. You will probably need to find another provider that specializes in SR-22. You can obtain more information about an SR-22 by asking a car accident lawyer.

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