DWI is illegal in every state in the U.S., and law enforcement officials take driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses very seriously. Even first time offenders can have their licenses suspended for up to one year depending on the circumstances of their arrest and subsequent legal proceedings. A suspended license means you can no longer drive at all. If you are caught driving with a suspended license, it will be that much harder to get it back, if at all.
Losing the privilege of having a driver’s license can be a major problem for some people, especially if they need to drive for their livelihood or education. Fortunately, all hope is not lost if your license is suspended. If you get your license suspended for DWI, you can apply for a hardship license so that you can get your license back earlier than what the court had originally decreed. First time offenders typically have an easier time because there are no prior DWI convictions to complicate matters and instillation of an ignition interlock device is usually not required, but the requirements are otherwise the same for your first through to your fourth conviction. A fifth DWI conviction means your license will no longer be suspended; you lose your license permanently, so no hardship license will be approved.
However, hardship licenses are not available to just anyone, and the criteria for qualifying for a hardship license can vary from state to state. However, some common requirements include:
- No charges of driving with a suspended license
- Applicant qualifies for a 24D disposition or “second chance” first offender status
- There are no other active revocations
- Documented proof of hardship i.e. letter from employer and letter of explanation from applicant justifying the need for a hardship license
- Proof of an installed ignition interlock for 2nd offenders
- Ignition interlock packet (for first offenders) if hardship license is granted
It must be noted that even if an applicant meets all criteria for the hardship license, an official or law enforcement officer who will hear your case may still refuse to grant it on reasonable grounds.
Possession of a controlled substance is a serious charge in every state in the U.S., although the penalties will depend on the type of drug in possession, the amount, and the number of prior convictions. Cocaine possession, for instance, carries lighter penalties than heroin possession of equal amounts, but cocaine possession is still a felony even for first time offenders. A conviction on charges of cocaine possession could have grave personal and professional consequences. If you are ever charged with actual possession, you could be in trouble, but if you are charged with constructive cocaine possession, you may have a good chance of having the charge dismissed.
What is the difference between actual and constructive possession?
Actual possession means the cocaine was on your physical person at the time of arrest, and that is usually bad news. Constructive possession, however, means that the cocaine was not on your person but was on or about your property and that you had knowledge, dominion, and control over it.
While these two definitions may sound similar, they are actually very different. For example, say that cocaine was found in the trunk of your car but you didn’t know it was there. Immediately, the “knowledge” part of the constructive possession charge is absent, so that’s a possible defense. If the car is not even yours, or you share the use of it with another person, it means that you don’t have exclusive use of the vehicle, and this can bring the issue of control over the cocaine into question, which is another possible defense.
As long as the conditions for constructive possession are not met in their entirety, it is possible that you can have the charges against you dismissed. Even if it is not possible to have the charges against you dismissed in their entirety, it is possible that you may be have the charges and potential penalties against you reduced in severity.
Almost everyone knows about DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated), and OUI (operating under the influence) charges, but a much smaller population is familiar with a BUI (boating under the influence) charge. Simply put, it is drinking while operating a boat.
Drinking While Boating
It is not illegal to drink while on a boat, but in most states, a boat operator’s blood alcohol content (BAC) should not exceed .08, similar to most DUI laws. In fact, it is possible for a boat to be stopped for erratic operation, and a field sobriety test (FST) issued to the boat operator. However, unlike with DUI, field sobriety tests for suspected BUI incidents are typically voluntary. Even when the field sobriety test is administered with consent, the value of the results are often sketchy at best because there is very little validation on the accuracy of marine FSTs.
BUI is generally a criminal offense, although in some states, like Washington, it is a misdemeanor. The penalties are also relatively light: there is no ignition interlock or suspended license, but an individual could be incarcerated and made to pay hefty fines. If arrested and charged with BUI, it is possible to avoid conviction even if a boat operator’s performance on field sobriety tests was less than ideal. Many individuals charged with BUI, or any other alcohol-related crime, turn to the professional legal assistance of a BUI attorney.
Boating under the influence is just as serious as DUI in many ways. However, as is the case with DUI charges, being accused of BUI is not the same as being convicted, and there are many options that those facing BUI charges have available to them to help them protect their rights and freedoms and avoid potentially serious penalties.