A DUI, also known as "driving under the influence", is when a person is caught operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a substance like alcohol or, in states that have legalized it, marijuana. The driver does not need to be marked impaired, and a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher will automatically result in a DUI.
While DUI laws vary from state to state, most states will require the following elements to be present for a DUI to apply:
While this seems like a simple question, the answer isn’t very clear. Each state has their definition of what it means, and it can vary from:
The above reasons vary, but they have all been used to successfully convict a person of a DUI. Ultimately, what it means to operate a vehicle will vary from state to state and it is important to ask an attorney as to what your jurisdiction considers to be operating a vehicle.
In most states, a DUI can be issued for:
Some states even consider horses or bicycles to be vehicles which means that much like what it means to operate a vehicle, the vehicle itself is also up to interpretation.
Now that many states have legalized marijuana, it is possible to be charged with a DUI if you smoke/imbibe cannabis and drive. In fact, it is also possible to be charged with a DUI if you’ve taken strong prescription drugs (even if you obtained the medication legally).
While there aren’t tests like a breathalyzer for marijuana or medication, police officers/highway patrol can administer the same sobriety field tests as they would for alcohol. It’s important to keep in mind that it is not just alcohol that can result in a DUI.
Some states do specify that a DUI can only be issued if the driver operated their vehicle in a public area. Other states do not specify, so that means even if you were driving your vehicle on private property you can still be charged with a DUI.
Importantly, you do not have to be on a road or a highway to be charged with a DUI. Parks, parking lots, road shoulders, and trails, anywhere you can drive a vehicle, are places where you can be charged with a DUI.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, then you should contact a local criminal defense lawyer. A DUI is a serious charge and it carries penalties like a suspension of your driver’s license, jail time, probation, and/or a fine. You already made the first mistake of getting a DUI, don’t make the second mistake or not getting the right lawyer to help you.
Last Modified: 01-19-2018 12:52 PM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
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