Understanding the difference between a DUI Charge and a DUI Conviction
Our criminal justice system states that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty. This is a very important point to remember when you are arrested for DUI. Even though it may seem like an arrest is a conviction, it’s not!
A DUI charge is a recording by police that this event happened. It is not proof that you were in fact driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Police will have a record of your DUI charge and it may be important for them if there are any investigations involving you in the future. Other than that a DUI charge is merely stating that you were charged with an offense.
In order to be charged with DUI, police must have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. If you were given a breath test or a field sobriety test, this is the start of a DUI investigation. You will be arrested for DUI if your breath test result was at least .08% no matter which state you live in.
This means that you don’t necessarily need to be impaired to be charged with DUI. Rather your BAC just has to reach a certain level. This is known as a “per se” violation and this will be the charge brought against you by the prosecution (the state) during the court proceeding. It will be the job of your defense attorney to refute any evidence brought against you and there are many possible defenses to a DUI.
If you are found guilty of DUI, you will be convicted of this crime and you will later be brought in for sentencing. At this point, a DUI will be entered on your criminal record. At this point, it will be possible for potential employers or schools conducting a background check to view this information.
Having a DUI on your criminal record can have lasting consequences. So before your DUI charge becomes a DUI conviction, make sure you hire an experienced DUI defense attorney!