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Omaha DUI Defense Lawyers

Were You Arrested in Omaha? Call Bottlinger Law L.L.C.

The mere idea that you could be charged with DUI is terrifying. You may be worried about serving jail time, attending court appearances, paying fines, losing your license, and how all of this could affect your career and relationships. Nebraska has strict DUI laws and can impose harsh penalties on anyone suspected of driving under the influence, but there is hope.

At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our experienced Omaha DUI defense lawyer can provide the strong representation you need during this difficult part of your life. We can review your case in a free consultation, explain your rights under the law, and advocate for your best interests in a criminal trial and DMV hearing. If you or someone you love was charged with a DUI in Omaha, do not hesitate to call us at (402) 505-8234.

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DUI Laws in Nebraska

Driving under the influence of any substance, whether alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription medication, is illegal under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196. This law applies to any amount of alcohol in a driver’s system, but it is generally charged when a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. In addition, if a driver has a 0.15% BAC, they face additional penalties.

Nebraska state law has different BAC levels for different classes of drivers, which include:

  • Drivers 21 years or older: BAC limit of 0.08%
  • Drivers under the age of 21: No amount of alcohol or drugs is allowed.
  • Commercial drivers: BAC limit of 0.04%

If Omaha police officers suspect a driver is impaired, they can request a breathalyzer or chemical test, which may include taking blood, urine, or hair. While drivers have the right to refuse, Nebraska has implied consent laws, which means that refusing to take a test can lead to an automatic license suspension. However, officers must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired; for example, witnessing the driver committing a moving violation or being involved in a traffic collision.

In order for you to be convicted of a DUI in Nebraska, the district attorney must prove that:

  • You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or had a BAC above the legal limit; AND
  • You were physically in control of the vehicle.

“Physically in control” does not mean you were driving the car, just that you could drive the car. This means if you were sitting in the driver’s seat while parked, you can be convicted of a DUI if the prosecution can prove that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at that time.

This may sound impossible to beat, but there are several ways an experienced DUI lawyer can defend you. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, and the arresting officer must have followed the legal procedures when they pulled you over. Depending on the circumstances of your case, our legal team may be able to have your charges reduced or dropped.

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Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

There are two consequences for driving under the influence: the criminal side and the administrative side. The criminal side is focused on punishing defendants for violating the law, while the administrative side deals with your driver’s license.

Criminal Charges

In Nebraska, the penalties for a DUI are based on your criminal record, meaning that the more DUIs you have, the harsher your punishment. In addition, charges can either be non-aggravated or aggravated. Non-aggravated means that your BAC level was between 0.08% and less than 0.15%; aggravated means that your BAC was 0.15% or higher, which will come with harsher penalties.

For a first-time offender, a court can charge you with a Class W misdemeanor and sentence you to:

  • Between seven days to 60 days in a Douglas County jail;
  • A fine of up to $500;
  • A six-month license revocation (one year for a BAC of 0.15% or higher);
  • DUI diversion program;
  • Ignition interlock device;
  • Informal probation; and/or
  • Community service.

Typically, first-time offenders can enter a diversion program instead of serving jail time or paying fines, but this will depend on your defense and your BAC level. In addition, if you have a prior conviction for a DUI, you may be denied the option to enter a diversion program.

For second DUI charge, you can be punished with:

  • 30 to 180 days in a Douglas County jail (90 days to one year for a BAC of 0.15% or higher);
  • A fine of up to $500 ($1,000 for a BAC above 0.15%);
  • A one-year license revocation (18 months to 15 years for a BAC of 0.15% or higher);
  • Ignition interlock device after a 45-day suspension;
  • Informal probation; and/or
  • Community service.

DUIs are generally considered misdemeanors, but that changes with a third offense. This charge can be a Class I misdemeanor for a BAC of below 0.15% or a Class 3A felony for a BAC of 0.15% or higher. A felony conviction can result in you being placed in a state prison, thousands of dollars in fines, the loss of voting rights, being banned from owning a firearm, and reduce your ability to get a job.

A third DUI can lead to:

  • 90 days or one year in a Douglas County jail (180 days or five years in a Nebraska state prison);
  • A fine of up to $600 ($10,000 for a BAC of 0.15% or higher);
  • A one-year license revocation (18 months to 15 years for a BAC of 0.15% or higher); and/or
  • Ignition interlock device after a 45-day suspension;
  • Probation; and/or
  • Community service.

Penalties for a fourth or fifth DUI include longer sentences and heftier fines. Even non-aggravated DUIs can be elevated to a felony for a fifth offense.

Bottom line: the state of Nebraska can bring down harsh penalties on anyone charged with a DUI, but you do have options. Sentences can be reduced if you are eligible for probation, an ignition interlock device, or a diversion program. However, there is still the matter of the administrative punishments.

Administrative Penalties

When you are pulled over for a DUI, the officer will ask you to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take this test or fail it, the officer can charge you with a DUI and take away your driver’s license, according to the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) law. The officer should provide you with a temporary license that is valid for 15 days, and you should also be notified of your right to dispute the license suspension. Your vehicle may also be impounded for between 10 and 30 days.

Like criminal penalties, license suspensions for a DUI can be extended if you have any prior charges. These punishments include:

  • First Offense: Up to 180-day (six-month) license suspension.
  • Additional Offenses: Up to one-year license suspension.

You have 10 days to file a petition with the DMV to fight your suspension in an ALR hearing. However, attending an ALR hearing means you lose the right to apply for an ignition interlock device, which can allow you to drive to work and perform other tasks while your license is suspended. If you do choose to attend an ALR hearing, you can and should contact an attorney to fight on your behalf.

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Entering a Diversion Program

To prevent defendants from becoming repeat offenders, many states, including Nebraska, have developed diversion programs. A diversion program is an alternative to jail that can help defendants learn how to avoid committing a crime again. While these programs mainly focus on juvenile offenders, there are several programs for adults, including those who’ve committed DUIs.

During the pretrial phase of your case, the court will determine if you are eligible for a DUI diversion program, which typically requires that this be your first offense, that you have a clean criminal record, and that you’ve never been in a program before.

If you are admitted into the program, you must:

  • Enroll with the National Safety Council, Nebraska.
  • Pay a program fee.
  • Complete between 12 to 72 hours of community service.
  • Attend a substance abuse class.
  • Avoid committing any additional crimes.
  • Remain with the program for a specific period of time, generally between six to 18 months.
  • Potentially install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

Upon completing the program, your DUI charge will be dismissed, and your record will be clear of any conviction.

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Beating a DUI Charge

Even if you cannot enter a diversion program, you still have several options when fighting a DUI charge. At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our lead defense lawyer can launch an in-depth review to find weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments and utilize one of the following defenses on your behalf:

  • You were in the passenger seat and not in control of the vehicle.
  • You were pulled over illegally.
  • The testing equipment was damaged or improperly used.
  • You only showed the objective signs of a DUI.
  • The officer performed misconduct when arresting you.

You should never allow your rights to be taken from you without a fair trial. By working with an experienced DUI attorney, you may be able to avoid jail time, or have your charges dropped altogether. But the first step is to pick up the phone and contact our legal team.

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Speak to an Experienced DUI Lawyer

At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our Omaha criminal defense lawyer is dedicated to providing legal guidance for our neighbors when they end up on the wrong side of the law. We understand how afraid and stressed you are after being arrested, but we have the knowledge you need to endure.

If you or someone you love was charged with a DUI in Omaha, reach out to Bottlinger Law L.L.C. With our years of experience, we can build a strong case on your behalf and fight to have your charges dropped. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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