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Traffic Law DUI/DWI

Traffic Law DUI/DWI Newsletters

Criminal Offense of Improper Lane Usage

A motorist is under a duty to have all of his vehicle on the right side of the road, and while the driver of an approaching car is charged with the duty of exercising proper care to avoid a collision, he has the right to presume that the motorist of the vehicle on the wrong side of the road will move over entirely to his own side. This idea is incorporated into statutes governing improper lane usage. By its terms, if a roadway is divided into two or more marked lanes of traffic, a motorist must stay in his lane of traffic so far as possible or practical and may not move from his lane without first ascertaining that such a movement could be safely done.

License Revocations for DUI/DWI

A driver who is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is likely to be subject to either a license suspension or a license revocation. Courts are generally limited and cannot change or alter a license revocation to limit the impact on the defendant. License revocations are considered civil penalties that are imposed to protect the public rather than a criminal penalty.

Overview of Private Motor Vehicle Traffic Regulation

The ability to drive a motor vehicle on a public highway is not a fundamental right under the United States Constitution; it is a revocable privilege that is granted upon compliance with statutory licensing procedures. Whether the right to operate a motor vehicle is termed a right or a privilege, one’s ability to travel on public highways is always subject to reasonable regulation by the state in the valid exercise of its police power. Accordingly, state vehicle codes were promulgated to increase the safety and efficiency of public roadways, and it is viewed as an enhancement rather than an infringement upon a citizen’s right to travel. The privilege properly may be revoked for noncompliance, and revocation is not an unconstitutional infringement of the revokee’s right to travel.

Penalties for Felony DUI/DWI

The penalties for felony driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or driving while intoxicated (DWI) vary depending upon the state. Many of the states have adopted sentencing guidelines that are similar to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Under these guidelines, the states usually provide a sentencing range for each type of offense and provide aggravating and mitigating circumstances that can be used to increase or decrease the sentence.

Warrantless Inventory Searches of Impounded Vehicles

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, every search or seizure by a government agent must be reasonable. In general, searches and seizures are unreasonable and invalid unless based on probable cause and executed pursuant to a warrant. However, certain kinds of searches and seizures are valid as exceptions to the probable cause and warrant requirements. One such exception is an inventory search of an impounded vehicle. Courts have upheld inventory searches of vehicles lawfully in police custody, including searches of the passenger compartment, glove compartment, trunk, engine compartments, and any containers in the vehicle.

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