In the state of Idaho, just as the rest of the country, driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is illegal and is enforced through a wide variety of penalties, ranging from a temporary license suspension to more severe criminal punishment. As the penalties for DUI violations can vary substantially depending on the facts, it is important to understand the breadth of regulation that governs Idaho DUI law.
Blood Alcohol Limits and the DUI Presumption
In Idaho, the state presumes that a driver is drunk (and therefore guilty of a DUI) if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above certain prescribed levels. BAC is at a 0.08 standard for drivers over the age of 21, 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21, and 0.04 for commercial drivers. The 0.02 BAC standard for under-21 drivers is so low that it essentially operates as an absolute ban on drinking and driving for those under 21 years of age.
As a general rule, it is best not to drink at all if you will be operating a motor vehicle, particularly because it can be difficult to measure your expected BAC after some number of drinks. BAC can vary substantially depending on gender, age, weight, medication, and on the amount that one has had to eat. As one’s BAC cannot be so easily predicted, the best policy is simply for drivers not to drink, but to help ensure more responsible drinking, there are calculators for estimating BAC.
Submitting to a BAC Test
Idaho has an implied consent law that requires you to take a breath, blood, or urine test if you are arrested for a DUI. The implied consent law basically says that you consent to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your BAC. You do not have the right to an attorney during this procedure and you must take the test as soon as the arresting officer(s) ask.
If you decide not to submit to a BAC test, you will be subject to various penalties. On the first offense, you will have your license suspended for a year and will be fined $250. On the second and third offenses, you will have your license suspended for two years and will be fined $250. In each situation, you may be eligible for a restricted license for driving to work and school if you install an ignition interlock device.
Penalties for Idaho DUI offenders vary based on the number of offenses that one has committed. On the first DUI charge, offenders may be imprisoned in jail for up to 6 months, may be fined up to $1,000, and will have there license suspended for 90 to 180 days. The first DUI offense is a misdemeanor violation.
On the second charge, offenders have mandatory jail time of at least 10 days and may be imprisoned for a length of up to 1 year. They may also be fined up to $2,000, have their license suspended for 1 year, and it is mandatory that they install an ignition interlock device. The second DUI offense is also a misdemeanor violation.
On the third charge, offenders have mandatory jail time of at least 30 days and may be imprisoned for a length of up to 5 years, with fines of up to $5,000. They will have their license suspended for 1 year minimum, with a 5 year maximum, and an ignition interlock device is mandatory. The third DUI offense is a felony violation.
It is important to note that if your BAC is over 0.20 at the time of your arrest, then you are eligible for enhanced penalties.
If you are facing a DUI charge in Idaho, you should contact a qualified DUI attorney to help assess your case and to help you move forward with a sound legal strategy.