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What Constitutes Drunk Driving DUI/DWI?

Drunk driving, sometimes called driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), has several meanings:

  • BAC of 0.08% or Higher: Driving with a blood alcohol level over the state's maximum permissible blood alcohol limit. The legal limit for adults is either 0.08% or 0.10% depending on the State.
  • Driving under the Influence: Driving when drugs or alcohol impairs your physical abilities. In some cases, it makes no difference whether the drug is legal or illegal. If taking that drug impacts your senses of seeing, hearing, talking, walking and/or judging distances, you may be guilty of a drunk driving offense.
  • Felony DUI: Some DUI’s can be charged as a felony if there was property damage or personal injury as a result of the DUI, or if the DUI was a repeat offense.

What Is Driving under the Influence?

Driving under the influence means that a person cannot operate a motor vehicle while the person is under the influence of a drug or alcoholic beverage.

The prosecution must prove:

  1. The individual drove a vehicle, AND
  2. While driving or operating the motor vehicle, the individual was impaired by a alcoholic beverage or drug that affected the individual’s ability to drive safely.

Common Drunk Driving DUI/DWI Tests for Intoxication

After the police officer has pulled over an individual and the police officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the police officer may administer several tests called the field sobriety test at the scene

  • Breath Test - Breathalyzer
  • Blood Test
  • Urine Test
  • Field Sobriety Test

After the officer has administered the field sobriety tests and the officer still suspects that the driver is impaired and is under the influence, the officer may arrest the driver and take the driver down to the police station and administer other scientific tests such as a blood or urine test.

Penalties for Drunk Driving DUI/DWI Convictions (vary from state to state)

Penalties for drunk driving convictions include:

  • Large fines
  • A license suspension or restriction
  • Attendance at a Drunk Driving DUI DWI education course
  • Probation
  • Imprisonment
  • Community service
  • Impounding of the vehicle
  • Loss of job that is related to driving a vehicle
  • Increased Insurance Rates
  • Loss of driver's license

What Are Possible Defenses for Drunk Driving DUI/DWI?

There are many defenses to a DUI/DWI charge that range from the initial stop to the actual arrest of the driver. Some possible defenses include:

  • You cannot be convicted of a DUI if you were not actually the driver or was not actually driving a vehicle at the time of the DUI
  • The police officer did not have probable cause or any reason to stop your vehicle
  • The officer failed to follow proper legal procedures during the arrest
  • Officer conducted improper field sobriety test that inaccurately showed that you are impaired or under the influence

Seeking Legal Help

If you are arrested for Drunk Driving DUI DWI, you should speak to an criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and possible penalties for drunk driving.

If you are the victim of an accident involving a drunk driver, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer to learn how to get compensation for your injuries.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 08-18-2017 03:54 AM PDT

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