Wyoming DUI Defense Lawyers
In Wyoming, driving under the influence, or DUI, is one of the most common criminal allegations that people with a clean criminal history can face in the course of their lifetime. Unlike most other offenses, DUI does not require a criminal state of mind. You can be convicted even if you were not aware that you were legally under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you got behind the wheel of your vehicle.
At The Criminal Defense Firm, our DUI-defense lawyers legally represent DUI defendants throughout Wyoming. We help them protect their driving privileges from suspension by the Wyoming Department of Transportation (DOT) and then contest the criminal charge in state court in Wyoming. With our vigorous defense, many DUI defendants have secured outright acquittals at trial, convinced the prosecutor to dismiss their case, or gotten drastically reduced sentences that preserved their rights and interests.
DUI Law in Wyoming
In Wyoming, the DUI law is found at Wyoming Statute § 31-5-233. This is the law that forbids being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving or in “actual physical control” of the vehicle.
There are numerous important aspects of this law that deserve further explanation. A few of them are:
- DUI law in Wyoming covers all vehicles
- “Actual physical control” is broader than merely driving the vehicle
- The difference between “per se” and other DUI convictions
Wyoming DUI Law is Not Limited to Motor Vehicles
One of the most important aspects of Wyoming’s DUI law is the absence of the word “motor” from the statute’s prohibition against driving “any vehicle” while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most other states forbid driving motor vehicles while under the influence. Wyoming forbids driving all vehicles. This can include things like:
- Roller blades
“Actual Physical Control” of a Vehicle
The extremely broad expansion of DUI law to all vehicles is even more important when you read the part of the statute that says you shall not “drive or have actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence. This means that you do not need to have been driving at the time the officer found you. In one case, a police officer found an intoxicated person sitting behind the wheel of a parked car, asleep. The engine and the lights were off and the key was in the ignition but in the “off” position. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court of Wyoming said that this was sufficient for a DUI and sustained the conviction.
“Per Se” DUIs and “Low Blow” Cases
An aspect of Wyoming’s DUI law that few people appreciate, though, is that it provides two different ways for prosecutors to convict you for drunk driving:
- Proving that you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit within two hours of the traffic stop, or
- Showing that you were under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both to the extent that you were incapable of safely driving your vehicle.
The first is known as a “per se” DUI because the BAC evidence creates an extremely strong presumption that you were under the influence of alcohol. Generally, the legal BAC limit is 0.08 percent. However:
- For commercial drivers it is 0.04 percent, and
- For drivers under the age of 21 it is 0.02 percent.
Just because your BAC is below the legal limit, however, does not absolve you. Under Wyoming law, only if your BAC is 0.05 percent or lower does it create the presumption that you are not under the influence. If your BAC was between 0.05 and 0.08 percent and the arresting officer thinks that you are too inebriated to drive, he or she can still make the arrest and their testimony at trial can still support a conviction. These are known as “low blow” cases and they can be extremely frustrating. During trial, the arresting officer will often use boilerplate descriptions of alcohol inebriation – things like “he was slurring his speech” or “I smelled alcohol on her” – that juries tend to believe.
Criminal Penalties of a DUI Conviction in Wyoming
The penalties of a conviction for DUI in Wyoming are significant, often far surpassing the severity of the offense, which generally does not even have a victim. These penalties are also priorable, meaning they get worse if you have been convicted for DUI in the 10 years preceding your arrest.
Without the presence of any aggravating factors, the penalties of a conviction for DUI in Wyoming are:
First offense (misdemeanor):
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Up to $750 in fines
Second offense (misdemeanor):
- 7 days to 6 months in jail
- Between $200 and $750 in fines
- Complete a substance abuse assessment
Third offense (misdemeanor):
- 30 days to 6 months in jail
- Fines of between $750 and $3,000
- Complete a substance abuse assessment and potentially outpatient alcohol or substance abuse treatment
Fourth offense (felony):
- Up to 7 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Aggravating factors can make these penalties even worse, like if you had a BAC at or above 0.15 percent or caused a car crash that seriously hurt someone else. There are also other criminal charges that you can face that stem from the DUI arrest, like:
- Vehicular manslaughter, if you caused a fatal accident
- Child endangerment, if you had a child in the car at the time of your arrest
- Drug possession or drug trafficking, if police find illegal drugs in your vehicle
Additionally, there are collateral consequences to a DUI conviction in Wyoming. These include setbacks like:
- Not being able to drive to work and losing your job
- Higher car insurance premiums
- Losing professional opportunities because you have a criminal background
These collateral consequences are especially severe if you were convicted for a felony DUI.
License Suspensions and the Administrative DUI Case
In addition to criminal penalties, your driver’s license will also be suspended for drugged or drunk driving. The license suspension process, however, is not something that many people are familiar with.
If you get arrested for DUI in Wyoming, your driver’s license will be revoked and replaced with a 30-day temporary license. You then have to request a reinstatement hearing within 20 days to protect your license while your criminal DUI case winds its way through Wyoming state court.
If you do not request this hearing, your temporary license expires after 30 days and you will lose your driving privileges.
If you do request this hearing, it triggers the administrative appeals process. If you are successful in this process, you can obtain a probationary license, which gives you limited driving privileges during the suspension period, which is 90 days for a first offense DUI.
A Couple of Frequently Asked Questions That The Criminal Defense Firm Gets About DUIs in Wyoming
What is an Implied Consent Law?
An implied consent law penalizes you by automatically suspending your driver’s license for refusing to submit to a breath test after it is requested by a police officer. The idea behind the law is that, by driving on the road and using your driving privileges, you have consented through implication to this request. Revoking your consent automatically revokes your driving privileges.
Wyoming’s implied consent laws are Wyoming Statutes § 31-6-101 et seq.
What is the Legal BAC Limit?
In Wyoming, and in every other U.S. state except for Utah, the general legal limit for BAC is 0.08 percent. If a breath, blood, or urine test measures a BAC higher than this amount, you are presumably under the influence of alcohol and in violation of Wyoming’s DUI laws.
Why Should I Hire The Criminal Defense Firm?
Because The Criminal Defense Firm only employs senior-level attorneys on its staff. This means that all of the legal work done on your DUI case comes from attorneys with decades of experience defending criminal suspects in court. It also means that your communications with The Criminal Defense Firm do not have to work their way through legal secretaries and junior associates before getting to the senior attorney on your case. When you call The Criminal Defense Firm, you talk to a senior lawyer right away.
Why Doesn't The Criminal Defense Firm Call Itself the Best in Wyoming?
Raising Strong Legal Defenses is Critical: The Criminal Defense Firm Can Help in Wyoming
Protecting your rights and interests during a DUI case is essential. Raising the right legal defenses for your situation can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
The DUI-defense lawyers at The Criminal Defense Firm can help. They have legally represented numerous DUI defendants in Wyoming and elsewhere and have a track record of securing good outcomes for them. Some of these potential DUI defenses have led to dropped charges or jury acquittals by:
- Showing there was no probable cause for the traffic stop
- Proving that the breath testing machines were not calibrated properly to detect BAC
- Poking holes in the arresting officer’s testimony
- Raising doubts about the accuracy of the field sobriety tests that were used to show that you were under the influence
Additionally, we have also been able to significantly reduce the penalties of a conviction in other DUI cases. This has helped our clients by, for example, taking jail time off the table or preserving a limited right to drive after the DUI conviction.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Wyoming, call The Criminal Defense Firm at (866) 603-4540 or contact them online to get started on your defense right away.