Unfortunately, all it takes is one momentary lapse in judgment for an otherwise law abiding citizen to become a convicted “criminal” if that lapse of judgment convinces you to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you have been drinking. In today’s anti-drinking and driving climate, a couple of beers after work with your buddies, or a glass or two of wine over dinner, could land you in jail facing charges for driving under the influence, or DUI. While there certainly are repeat DUI offenders, the average defendant is a first-time offender who has never been arrested before for anything. If you fall into that category, and are currently charged with DUI in the State of Nebraska, you are undoubtedly experience a number of emotions, among them fear, confusion, and worry. If you are like many people in your position, you are not even sure how to interpret the charges against you. It is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney with questions and concerns you have regarding your case; however, in the meantime it may help to better understand the DUI charges that have been filed against you.
The DUI Statute
Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6-196 governs driving under the influence in Nebraska, reading as follows:
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or be in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle:
(a) While under the influence of alcoholic liquor or of any drug;
(b) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of his or her blood; or
(c) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of his or her breath.
(2) Any person who operates or is in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle while in a condition described in subsection (1) of this section shall be guilty of a crime and upon conviction punished as provided in sections 60-6,197.02 to 60-6,197.08.
Interpreting the Elements
Unless you happen to be an attorney, reading the actual DUI statute will not likely suffice to explain your DUI charge to you. Two important points you need to understand from the statute, in layman’s terms, include:
- You can be charged and convicted for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- A chemical test is not necessary to convict you of DUI in Nebraska. The statute allows the prosecution to prove that you were “under the influence” without results of a chemical test. Results from a chemical test simply make is easier to prove you are guilty of the offense.
What Does an Aggravated DUI Charge Mean?
Sometimes, your charges will allege, or you will otherwise be informed, that you are charged with an “aggravated DUI.” There are several different reasons why you might be charged with an aggravated DUI; however, the most common is that you had a particularly high blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) level. In the State of Nebraska, the “legal limit” is 0.08 percent BAC. This does not necessarily mean you are not committing a crime if your BAC is below that level, it simply means you are presumptively driving under the influence if your BAC is at that point or higher. If your BAC level is 0.15 percent or higher (almost twice the legal limit), you could be charged with an aggravated DUI. If convicted of an aggravated DUI you will face harsher penalties.
Understanding the Offense Level
In the State of Nebraska, DUI can be charged as anything from a Class W misdemeanor to a Class II felony. The level of the offense will depend predominantly on whether or not you have a history of DUI convictions or not. The level of the offense is what will determine the potential penalties. Therefore, it is imperative that you discuss your exact DUI charges with an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney so that you fully understand the penalties you face if convicted.