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Impaired Driving Violations

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What Is Impaired Driving?

Impaired driving refers to operating a motor vehicle while having some loss or diminishment of an area of proper physical function, such as motor skills, speech, vision, or sensory skills.

Driving Under the Influence Vs. Driving While Impaired

Although driving under the influence and driving while impaired are often used interchangeably, two terms actually have different meanings. Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to a driver having an excessive amount of alcohol in their bloodstream so that they are legally drunk. Driving while impaired (DWI) refers to a driver having drugs and/or alcohol in his system at the time of a traffic stop or accident.

What Are the Signs of Impairment?

Signs of being impaired while driving include:


  • Driving too fast
  • Driving too slow
  • Swerving
  • Driving in and out of lanes
  • The failure to drive in a straight line
  • Slurred speech
  • The inability to complete simple physical tasks like walking in a straight line
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • The scent of alcohol on the breath


Can I Be Convicted of Impaired Driving While Not Legally Drunk?

Yes. In most jurisdictions, the legal limit for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for a driver is 0.08 percent, and a BAC above that is considered legally drunk. However, a driver who has a blood alcohol concentration lower than 0.08 percent can still be convicted of impaired driving if the driver’s ability to drive is impaired in another way, such as by the ingestion of drugs or exhaustion.

What Are the Penalties Associated with Impaired Driving?

Impaired driving penalties depend on the offense:


  • First time penalties include suspended driving privileges, fines, and points on the person’s driver’s license. They may also have to attend driving education courses. The possibility of probation is also an option. If a person is sentenced to probation, the length of the probation could be up to three years.
  • Second and subsequent convictions include the penalties listed in the previous section and jail time. Depending on the circumstances involved, the violation could also include prison time.

Non-criminal driving impaired penalties include an increase in automobile insurance premiums.

Should I Contact an Attorney If I Am Facing Impaired Driving Charges?

Absolutely. You should immediately contact a criminal attorney if you are accused of driving while impaired. A criminal attorney will explain any relevant alcohol and/or drug intoxication laws and help you prepare a defense for trial.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-17-2018 06:07 PM PDT

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