DUI Laws and Penalties

The Nations Leading DUI Penalties and Laws Website

D.U.I. You may have heard this phrase before, but what does it mean? To many, it means a lot of things­. It could mean the loss of your driver's license, civil fines or jail time. Its official meaning? Driving under the influence.

Depending on the jurisdiction, this criminal offense may also be referred to as driving while intoxicated ( DWI ), driving while impaired (also DWI ), operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated ( OWI ) or operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated ( OMVI ).

DUI charges are usually based on a person's BAC or blood alcohol concentration and may be determined by the administering of a breath, blood or urine test (which is usually conducted if drugs are suspected).

What May Happen if You are Pulled Over

Here is a likely scenario if you are pulled over and you've been drinking:

You hear the police officer(s) footsteps approaching your vehicle as other cars creep by you, slowly gawking. A bright light is shined in your face.

“License, registration and insurance, please,” the officer states. You fumble through card after card trying to find the requested documents. Then the officer asks: “Have you been drinking tonight?”

The police officer(s) may then ask you to step out of your vehicle and perform one of several field sobriety tests or FST's. These are quick exercises for you, the driver, intended to indicate whether you are in fact intoxicated. This may include simple tasks such as tipping your head back and touching your nose, reciting the alphabet or following a pen with your eyes. All of these examples are very difficult to perform while you are drunk, making them a favorite tool for police officers to use.

If an FST is not performed, the officer(s) is likely to perform a chemical test, which can more accurately indicate sobriety or insobriety. A breathalyzer may be used at the initial traffic stop, or you may be taken back to the station for a blood or urine test.

Knowing the Legal Limit

A person's BAC is the percentage amount of alcohol found in his or her bloodstream.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have set a BAC limit. Most states have a legal limit of 0.08 for citizens over age twenty-one. States like Delaware, Minnesota and Colorado allow a BAC limit of 0.10, although Congress has passed a national standard of 0.08 that links highway funds with compliance. Congress's actions were based on a significant amount of research which indicated that at a BAC of 0.08, the average person's driving ability is impaired.

The contents of this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship. The outcome of a legal action necessarily depends on the facts and circumstances particular to that action and, as such, results will differ from case to case. Additionally, the law changes and the information on this website may not reflect the most current changes. No person should rely upon or act upon any information contained on this website without first seeking the advice of an experienced lawyer

Although this website is periodically updated, there is no guarantee that it is complete, correct or up to date.