An alcohol-related crime is a crime one of the major factors of the case involves:
- The consumption of alcoholic beverages;
- The sale of alcoholic beverages; or
- The distribution of alcoholic beverages.
There are numerous alcohol related crimes, which may include:
- Selling alcohol to a minor;
- Serving alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated, which may be a crime in some jurisdictions;
- Flying while intoxicated;
- Minor in possession of alcohol;
- Boating under the influence;
- Using a fake ID to buy alcohol;
- Public drunkenness, especially in a restricted zone such as a school;
- Operating an amusement ride while under the influence; and
- Open container violations.
The consumption of alcohol can be a factor in many other types of crimes as well, including:
- Recklessness; or
- Various types of negligence.
One of the most well-known alcohol related crimes is driving under the influence of alcohol, called DUI or DWI, depending on the state. Although state laws vary regarding DUI laws, they are usually treated quite strictly.
DUI may be known by other names, including:
- DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated;
- OUI, or Operating Under the Influence; or
- OMVI, or Operating a Motor Vehicle Intoxicated.
It is important to note that DUI can include substances other than alcohol which impair an individual’s motor skills. Examples of substances which may impair motor skills include, but are not limited to:
- Illicit or illegal drugs;
- Prescription medication, such as muscle relaxers; and
- Over the counter medication, including antihistamines, like benadryl.
Certain states may also include other types of vehicles in their DUI states, including:
- Mopeds; and
- Golf carts.
Driving under the influence is a very serious offense which may lead to major consequences. Depending on the laws of the state, an individual is considered to be legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or 0.10%.
If an individual chooses to operate a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or taking drugs which impair their senses, they may face consequences such as:
- Getting a ticket;
- Criminal fines;
- Being arrested;
- Being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).
In many cases, an individual who has been charged with drunk driving for the first time typically only results in a misdemeanor charge. It is important to note, however, that an individual may be charged with a felony if they injure another individual or cause damage to property.
A defendant may also face felony charges if they have multiple drunk driving offenses. In addition, although the majority of states will charge a drunk driver with DUI, each state has their own criteria for drunk driving offenses, as well as different potential charges which may apply.
It is important to be aware that drunk driving is not merely a traffic citation, it is considered a criminal offense. Because of this, if an individual is convicted of drunk driving, the conviction will appear on their criminal record.
If a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor, they may face both jail time in a county jail facility as well as criminal fines. Jail sentences typically do not exceed one year.
The criminal fine is usually capped at $1,000. That amount, however, may vary by state.
The consequences for the misdemeanor conviction may also depend upon the offense which was committed. For example, the punishment for a drunk driving conviction may involve mandatory DUI classes, or traffic school, and other available measures. These may be imposed in addition to the jail sentence and fines.
If a defendant is convicted of a felony, they may face prison time over a year as well as criminal fines. The defendant may also be required to pay restitution, which means the defendant pays the victim to compensate them for losses incurred as a result of the felony.
In the majority of states, if a defendant is convicted of a felony, they may lose rights as well as face life-long consequences. A felon forfeits the right to vote.
In addition, most states have laws that prohibit released felons from engaging in activity which is otherwise lawful. This may include terminating professional licenses, such as law or medical licenses, as well as permits, such as firearm permits.