Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal charge that can have a life-changing effect on a defendant. Nebraska law states that any conviction for DUI carries a mandatory jail sentence. In addition, a defendant may be ordered to attend an alcohol education course, face a period of license suspension, and pay a heavy fine.
Whether this is a first alleged offense or you have a prior conviction, it may be important to retain an experienced Omaha criminal defense attorney and fight back against these allegations. If you are currently facing charges related to driving drunk, an Omaha DUI lawyer could help analyze the police work used to make the arrest, argue for the omission of certain types of evidence, and work to convince a jury that you were not impaired while driving.
When Is a Driver in Omaha Considered Impaired?
There are two ways a prosecutor may attempt to prove intoxicated driving in court under Nebraska Revised Statutes §60-6,196. The most straightforward is to introduce evidence gained by a breathalyzer test or other scientific evidence.
All drivers in Nebraska implicitly consent to being tested for intoxication at an officer’s request under Nebraska Revised Statute §60-6,197.03. Furthermore, any refusal to submit to a request to take the test is punishable by a 90-day loss of license, in addition to any possible penalty imposed for a DUI conviction. If this test indicates a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or more, the officer can make an arrest based on this evidence of impairment.
Officers can also make an arrest based only on their observations. If an officer has a valid reason to pull a driver over and talk with the driver, an officer may observe and act upon indicators of intoxication such as:
- A smell of alcohol coming from the car
- Slurred speech
- Glassy eyes
The officer may also ask a driver to perform a field sobriety test, although drivers are not obligated to participate. In cases like these, an Omaha DUI attorney could potentially help refute the officer’s observations, or even point out other classic signs of intoxication that were not present to question the officer’s reliability.
Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction
Penalties for even a first-time DUI conviction are particularly harsh in Nebraska. At the top of the list of possible consequences is a required jail term of no less than seven days. The maximum jail penalty can rise as high as 60 days.
In addition to this, there is a fine of up to $500 that a court may assess. Finally, a court may suspend a driver’s license for up to 60 days. In especially egregious cases, the court may order a guilty defendant to attend an alcohol education program or rehabilitation sessions at their own expense.
In some cases, a DUI lawyer in Omaha may be able to strike a plea deal with prosecutors to have a DUI charge reduced to one involving reckless driving. While still a criminal conviction, there is no required license suspension or mandatory jail sentence attached to reckless driving.
DUI Charges Under Omaha City Ordinance
A DUI in Omaha is not treated the same as they are throughout the rest of the state. First-offense DUIs in the city are charged under city ordinance instead of the state statute. This takes away your right to a jury trial. However, this does not impact your right to an attorney. If you are being charged under Omaha city ordinance, it is important that you consult an Omaha DUI lawyer who has experience defending clients in these types of cases.
One caveat for a first offense DUI in Sarpy County is that individuals may be eligible for diversion, meaning your charge could be dismissed if you complete all of the proper steps. For more information on whether or not you are diversion eligible for your first offense DUI in Sarpy County, please contact our office.
Contact an Omaha DUI Attorney Today
Being charged with a DUI can forever change a person’s life. Nebraska law mandates a jail sentence for a first DUI conviction and significant financial penalties, which means many people’s first and only experience with the police and the court system is a harrowing one.
An Omaha DUI lawyer with Berry Law could work on your behalf to examine the credibility of the arresting officer’s observations, dispute the accuracy of any chemical tests, and protect your constitutional rights every step of the way. Contact one of our trial attorneys today to see how we could help you.