Learn about the consequences of refusing a BAC test under Wyoming's laws
This guide delves into Wyoming's DUI laws, offering critical insights into legal limits, implied consent laws, and the penalties for DUI offenses. It provides essential tips for those involved in DUI accidents, whether as intoxicated drivers or victims.
More than 50 people in Wyoming die every year from alcohol-involved crashes, according to the Governor’s Council on Impaired Driving (GCID).
This detailed guide aims to shed light on the intricacies of Wyoming’s drunk driving laws, offering essential information for those affected by DUI accidents, whether as a driver or a victim.
Understanding DUI in Wyoming: legal limits and definitions
Wyoming statute 31-5-233 prohibits individuals from driving a vehicle if the individual:
- Has an alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more (.04 percent for commercial drivers and .02 percent for underage drivers, or
- Is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to a degree that renders the individual incapable of safely driving.
To put it another way, an individual in Wyoming can be charged with a DUI if they are driving with a BAC of .08 percent or more. However, even if the individual’s BAC is below the legal limit, they may still be charged with a DUI if their alcohol consumption renders them unable to drive safely.
Evidence that may be used to support a decision that a person is affected by alcohol or drugs may include:
- Erratic driving
- Poor performance on a field sobriety test
- Slurred speech
- Odd behavior
- An admission of being impaired
|The effects of blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
|Predictable effects on driving
|Some loss of judgment, relaxation, slight body warmth, altered mood
|A decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target) and a decline in the ability to perform 2 tasks at the same time
|Exaggerated movement, some loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), impaired judgment, lowered alertness, the release of inhibition
|Reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to an emergency driving situation
|Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing), harder to detect danger; judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired
|Concentration, short-term memory loss, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception
|Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking
|Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately
|Significantly less muscle control than normal, vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol), major loss of balance
|Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing
|Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Implied consent laws in Wyoming
Wyoming’s implied consent law, which can be found in Wyoming Statute 31-6-102, mandates that drivers must submit to BAC testing when lawfully requested by an officer.
Refusal to comply leads to immediate administrative license suspension for up to one year, independent of criminal DUI proceedings.
In Wyoming, as in many other states, an officer must have “reasonable suspicion” to lawfully stop a driver and request a BAC test. Reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause, which is required for an arrest. It means the officer must have a reasonable basis for believing that the driver is violating the law.
Penalties for a DUI in Wyoming
Wyoming statutes delineate clear penalties for DUI offenses, increasing in severity with repeated offenses. Here’s a closer look at the potential consequences you could face if caught driving under the influence in Wyoming:
|Wyoming DUI penalties
|Up to $750
|Up to 6 months
|90-day license suspension
|Up to $750
|7 days to 6 months
|1-year license suspension
|$750 to $3,000
|30 days to 6 months
|3-year license suspension
It’s important to note that the presence of aggravating factors, such as a BAC level significantly above .08 percent or causing a serious accident, can lead to enhanced penalties, including mandatory jail time and higher fines.
DUI-related accidents and personal injury lawsuits
If you sustain damages in a car accident in Wyoming due to a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’re entitled to file an insurance claim, similar to the process for other car accidents.
However, there are situations where filing a personal injury lawsuit against the impaired driver becomes necessary. These include:
- If the driver responsible for the accident is uninsured, and you lack uninsured motorist coverage.
- When the insurance company’s settlement offer does not adequately cover your damages.
- If your incurred damages surpass the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
In Wyoming, while liability insurance generally covers accidents caused by drivers under the influence, such policies typically do not extend collision, comprehensive, or other types of coverage to the intoxicated driver themselves.
Demonstrating that a driver's intoxication led to your accident in Wyoming often involves obtaining a police report that confirms the driver was under the influence. Should the other party contest liability, it may become necessary to engage a personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can assist in gathering evidence, formulating a robust case, and ensuring your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
Wyoming’s dram shop law
Wyoming’s dram shop law can be found in Wyoming Statutes 12-8-301. Under the law, establishments like bars and restaurants can be held liable if they serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person or minor, and this person subsequently causes harm.
Let’s look at a quick example that illustrates Wyoming’s dram shop law:
In Laramie, Wyoming, a local bar continued to serve alcohol to 23-year-old Alex, despite his obvious intoxication. Later that night, an impaired Alex drove home and was involved in a serious accident with Emily, a nurse returning from her shift. Emily sustained severe injuries.
Under Wyoming's dram shop laws, Emily's attorney targeted the bar in her personal injury lawsuit. The bar was accused of negligently serving alcohol to Alex, who was visibly drunk, contributing to the accident. Witness testimonies and security footage from the bar demonstrated Alex's impaired state and the bar's failure to cut off his alcohol service. This evidence proved crucial in establishing the bar's liability.
The court held the bar partly responsible for the accident, mandating it to cover a significant part of Emily’s medical costs and other damages.
Wyoming drunk driving FAQs
Expungement of a DUI charge in Wyoming is complex and depends on various factors, including the nature of the offense and the individual’s criminal history.
Yes, Wyoming considers prior DUI convictions from other states when determining penalties for a current DUI offense.
In Wyoming, if you are convicted of a DUI while a minor (under the age of 16) is in the vehicle, it's considered an aggravating factor and can significantly increase the severity of the penalties. For a first offense, this can lead to a mandatory minimum jail sentence of seven days and a maximum of up to one year, in addition to the standard penalties for a DUI. Fines can also be increased, with potential charges reaching up to $750. Subsequent offenses with a minor in the vehicle will result in even more severe penalties, including longer jail terms and higher fines.
To reinstate a driver's license after a DUI suspension in Wyoming, the individual must complete the suspension period, pay a reinstatement fee, provide proof of SR-22 insurance, and, in some cases, complete a substance abuse assessment and follow-up treatment.
Yes, in Wyoming, a person can be charged with a DUI even if they are in a parked car, as long as they are in physical control of the vehicle and meet the criteria for impairment or BAC level.
Understanding the depth of Wyoming’s DUI laws is vital for both potential offenders and victims. This guide provides a foundation, but individual cases may have unique nuances. It’s advisable to consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice tailored to specific situations.