Site Menu

If you need to consult with an attorney or would like more information on facing charges for driving under the influence / DUI , please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.

Driving Under the Influence

It is a violation of law to operate or to be in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. You are in violation of the law if you operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree which renders you incapable of safe driving. You are also in violation of the law if you operate a vehicle when your blood alcohol content (or BAC) is .08 percent or greater or if you have any amount of a schedule drug in your system without a valid prescription. If you are under the age of 21, you are in violation of the DUI Statute if your blood alcohol content is .02 or greater. There are mandatory sentencing guidelines for any DUI conviction, which vary greatly depending upon the level of BAC, drugs and your prior criminal history. If convicted of DUI, depending on the BAC level and other factors, you may lose your driver's license for one year or more, face mandatory jail time and you may also be mandated to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicles for one year.

You should also know that if you are stopped by a police officer and that officer has reasonable suspicion to believe you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer can request that you take a breathalyzer or blood test. If you are placed under arrest and refuse to take the test requested, you will automatically lose your driver's license for at least one year administratively by the DMV, regardless of whether you are ultimately convicted in criminal court. If you refuse a breathalyzer and are later convicted for DUI, you will lose your driver's license for an additional year or more, consecutive to the DMV suspension. Currently, if you refuse a blood test, you may not be punished additionally on the criminal offense specifically for that refusal but other factors, such as prior record, may enhance the penalties which you are facing.

If this is your first arrest for DUI and you meet other criteria, you may be eligible for admission to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program. This is more commonly called the ARD Program. Your admission to the ARD Program will be subject to the approval of the District Attorney and the Court. As a condition of the Program, you will be required to attend alcohol/drug safe driving classes. In addition, you will be under the Court's supervision for up to two years. During this time you may not consume any alcohol. You also may lose your driver's license. The length of your suspension will depend on your BAC. If you successfully complete the ARD Program the DUI charge will be dismissed and your arrest record will be erased. It is important to know that an ARD will appear on your drivers abstract even if your criminal record has been expunged. If, however, you violate any of the conditions of the ARD Program you can be removed from the Program and prosecuted, as if you never were on ARD. If you have questions specific to your case, you should consult a lawyer immediately. 4/18