DUI Defense Attorneys in Nebraska
Drunk driving is probably the most common criminal offense that otherwise law-abiding Nebraskans get charged with. It is often the result of making a poor decision at the point where it is most difficult to make a good one. Unfortunately, the penalties of a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in Nebraska are shockingly steep, thanks in large part to decades of intense political pressure being put on lawmakers in the state.
Raising effective legal defenses to an allegation of drunk or drugged driving is essential for defendants. Invoking your rights can mean the difference between a costly criminal conviction and a more favorable outcome.
The DUI-defense lawyers at The Criminal Defense Firm represent defendants in DUI cases throughout Nebraska. With their legal help and guidance, numerous DUI defendants have succeeded in getting their charges dropped, secured an acquittal at trial, or mitigated the severity of the conviction to the point where they could carry on with their lives.
DUI Law in Nebraska
Nebraska’s main law regarding driving under the influence is Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196. This is the law that forbids being “in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle” while either:
- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or
- Having a blood alcohol content (BAC) or 0.08 percent or higher.
There are numerous important aspects to this statute. Two of them are:
- You can be convicted for DUI with a BAC below 0.08 percent, and
- What constitutes “actual physical control” of a vehicle.
“Low Blow” DUIs
Perhaps the most surprising thing that people in Nebraska learn about their state’s DUI law is that you do not have to be at or above the legal limit to get convicted for drunk driving.
Prosecutors can convict you for either having a high BAC, or for being under the influence. If the arresting officer thinks that you were under the influence, you can still get arrested even if the results of a breath, blood, or urine test all say that you were below the legal limit. While the tests can be used as exculpatory evidence during trial, the testimony of the police officer on its own can still be enough to convict you for drunk driving in Nebraska.
“Actual Physical Control” of a Motor Vehicle
Most other states criminalize driving a motor vehicle while under the influence. Nebraska goes further.
Being in “actual physical control” of your vehicle does not mean that you have to be driving it. Case law from Nebraska courts have stated that you are in “actual physical control” under the state’s DUI law if you handle the controls of the car or even if you are able to drive “with very little effort or delay.”
In one case, a man was convicted for DUI for sleeping in his vehicle with the engine running to keep it warm. Ironically, he had decided to sleep in his truck rather than drive home because he did not want to get a DUI.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction
Even though the vast majority of DUI offenses do not involve a victim, the penalties for a conviction are steep. Even for a first offense, you can face:
- Jail time
- License suspension
- Other obligations, like community service or substance abuse treatment
Importantly, DUIs are priorable offenses. Each time you get convicted, the penalties will be worse. However, the law will only look back 15 years for a prior conviction. If you were convicted for a DUI 20 years ago and got arrested last night, the prior conviction would not be counted against you for the purposes of sentencing.
In addition to the presence of a prior, aggravating factors can also substantially increase the penalties of an offense. Without any of these aggravating factors present, the penalties for a conviction for DUI are up to:
First offense (Class W misdemeanor):
- 60 days in jail
- $500 in fines
- 6-month license revocation
Second offense (Class W misdemeanor):
- 90 days in jail
- $500 in fines
- 1-year revocation
Third offense (Class W misdemeanor):
- 1 year in jail
- $1,000 in fines
- 15-year revocation
Fourth offense (Class 3A felony):
- 5 years in prison
- $10,000 in fines
- 15-year revocation
Fifth offense (Class 3 felony):
- 20 years in prison
- $25,000 in fines
- 15-year revocation
These are just the baseline penalties. Aggravating factors can drastically increase the penalties of a conviction in Nebraska. For example, if your BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, the penalties increase as if you had one more prior offense than you actually have. Other aggravating factors can enhance the penalties of a conviction or can add additional criminal charges to your case. For example:
- If you caused a fatal car accident, you can get charged with vehicular manslaughter
- If there were children in your care, you can get accused of child endangerment
- If a search of your vehicle finds illegal drugs, you can get charged with drug possession or drug trafficking
In addition to these penalties, you will also deal with the collateral consequences of the conviction. These are unevenly imposed by society rather than by the court system. They include things like:
- Social stigmatization
- Job loss if you are unable to get to work because of your license suspension
- Higher costs for car insurance
In some cases, these consequences prove to be more difficult to overcome than the legal penalties of the conviction.
There are Legal Defenses to DUI Charges
With so much at stake, it is important to remember that getting arrested for DUI is not the same thing as getting convicted for it. Prosecutors still have to prove their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt in a Nebraska state court.
By hiring a DUI-defense lawyer from The Criminal Defense Firm, you can invoke your rights and raise effective legal defenses that can persuade law enforcement to drop its case, secure an acquittal at trial, or at the very least reduce the penalties of a conviction. Some common DUI defense strategies include showing that:
- There was insufficient probable cause to support the traffic stop
- The DUI checkpoint was not properly conducted
- Field sobriety tests were improperly administered or were unapproved for use
- The officer’s testimony is unreliable
- The breath testing machine or portable breathalyzer was not calibrated properly
Additionally, arguments can be made that can reduce the penalties of a conviction, like your clean criminal background or strong presence in the community, or that alter the penalties to suit your interests, like pleading guilty in order to avoid jail time.
Some Frequently Asked Questions About Nebraska’s DUI Laws and The Criminal Defense Firm
What is Nebraska's Implied Consent Law?
Nebraska’s implied consent law is Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,197. This is the law that penalizes drivers who refuse to provide a breath sample during a traffic stop when they are lawfully requested to provide one by the police. If drivers could simply refuse to comply, then DUI enforcement would become far more difficult if not impossible.
The gist of implied consent laws is that, in order to drive on the roads of Nebraska, you will be deemed to have consented to these searches. Withdrawing your consent leads to a withdrawal of your driving privileges in the form of an automatic license suspension.
What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?
In Nebraska, there is no difference between a DUI and a DWI. The terms are often used interchangeably, as “driving under the influence” and “driving while impaired” or “driving while intoxicated” have the same meaning.
However, this is not necessarily the case in all states. In Oklahoma, for example, a DUI is the crime of driving with a BAC at or above the legal limit, while a DWI is driving while impaired. The offenses are different, and the penalties of a DUI are higher.
Is the Legal Limit Always 0.08 Percent?
No. There are two exceptions to the legal limit being 0.08 percent in Nebraska.
First, drivers under the drinking age of 21 have a legal limit of 0.02 percent. This is known as Nebraska’s “zero tolerance law” against underage drinking. The legal BAC limit is not actually zero because there are innocuous ways for young adults to have traces of alcohol on their breath, like mouthwash, and elevating the legal limit slightly can avoid serious and unwarranted criminal penalties.
Second, commercial drivers have to abide by a legal BAC limit of 0.04 percent. Complying with this stricter obligation is especially important given that these workers are likely to lose their jobs if they get convicted for DUI.
Is There a Legal Limit for Drugs?
Unlike with drunk driving, there is no established legal limit for drugged driving. These cases rely heavily on officer testimony. While law enforcement agencies claim that they can train officers to detect the presence of drugs simply by interacting with someone and noting how they respond, the DUI-defense lawyers at The Criminal Defense Firm have shown time and time again that those claims are highly exaggerated.
Why Don't You Call Yourselves the Best DUI-Defense Firm in Nebraska?
Nebraska DUI-Defense at The Criminal Defense Firm
The first step towards beating a DUI charge is to get a DUI-defense lawyer. The Criminal Defense Firm is staffed with senior-level attorneys with extensive experience protecting the rights of the accused, including those facing allegations of drunk or drugged driving. Contact them online or call their law office at (866) 603-4540 get effective and experienced defense counsel in Nebraska.