What Is DUI (DWI) Law?

Photo of a DUI checkpoint signA good place to begin is the actual definition of DUI. Drunk driving is known as driving under the influence (DUI) in some states and driving while intoxicated (DWI) in other states. Some states even use the term operating under the influence (OUI). We will use DUI to refer to all three. DUI law also includes and prohibits driving under the influence of any drug (legal or illegal).

To prove a person is guilty of the offense of driving under the influence, one must show that:

  • The person drove a vehicle.
  • At the time of driving, the person was “under the influence” in that their ability to drive safely was affected to an appreciable degree by having drunk an alcoholic beverage, taken a drug, or combined alcohol and drugs.

These crimes are considered to be among the most serious driving offenses, due to the heightened risk of traffic fatalities. DUIs tend to carry heavy penalties and are trending towards stiffer punishments. As such, DUI law deals with the regulations and implications of driving under the influence of a drug or alcohol. As it pertains to an individual, DUI law also deals with representing people in cases where they have been charged with DUIs.

What Does “Driving With A Blood Alcohol Content of .08% or Higher” Mean?

In every state, a person with a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol.

To prove that a person is guilty of driving with a BAC of .08%, the follow elements must be proved:

  • The person drove a vehicle; and
  • Alcohol was present in the driver’s blood at a concentration of 0.08% or greater while driving.

Many states flatly prohibit anyone from driving, whether impaired or not, with a BAC of 0.08%.

An important distinction is that a BAC of 0.08% is a presumption of impairment. A police officer can still arrest you if your BAC is under 0.08%. This is because if any alcohol is in your system and the police officer finds your driving to be impaired, then you have met the elements of driving under the influence. Many individuals become confused and have a false belief that being under a BAC of 0.08% means they will not go to jail.

Felony DUI

Although most first offenses are treated as misdemeanors, there are circumstances under which a DUI can be bumped to a felony.

  • Death

o   If a driver kills or injuries someone while under the influence of alcohol, many states enable the driver to be found guilty of a felony.

  • Multiple Offenses

o   If some states, a third or fourth DUI are automatic grounds for being charged with a felony.

Who Can Help After a DUI?

You or anyone else accused of a DUI should contact a lawyer experienced with handling DUIs. DUI law can be a niche part of the law, and it is imperative to understand every facet of the charges against you or anyone else. Many DUIs also have a civil law element that deals with restricting, suspending, or revoking an individual’s license. Contact a lawyer near you, because many times licenses are automatically suspended if no action is taken after a set number of days.