Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that decrease the capabilities of a person constitutes a crime in all the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Regardless of how you call your state, “driving under the influence”, “driving while intoxicated” or any other name, it is a charge that is taken very seriously and punished accordingly. The National Administration of Traffic Safety on the Roads (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA) estimated that about 40 percent of all deaths on the roads of the United States are related, to some extent, with alcohol.

Section DUI Laws covers the full range of issues related to impaired driving, including court processes, different types of charges how to defend when being charged for DUI, common penalties, summaries of laws from each state, and more.

What Does it Mean to be Impaired?

For the purposes of DUI law, generally you are “impaired” if your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is appreciably affected by having consumed alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications. Because different substances affect people in different ways, “per se” laws set measurable limits. For example, if a driver has an alcohol concentration in the blood of at least the un 0.08 percent he is considered intoxicated. Similarly, some states assume that any amount of certain drugs in the bloodstream constitutes a impairment.

How Did DUI Laws First Come Into Existence?

New York was the first state to enact legislation on the crime of drunk driving in 1910. California and a handful of other states followed a year later, but none of these laws provided a specific definition of what it meant to be drunk or intoxicated. In contrast, the test of the level of intoxication was left in the hands of the observations of the officer who arrested the individual. Therefore, these early laws were not very practical to apply.

The states noted that they ought to establish an objective way to measure the level of intoxication of a driver, which led to the invention and the adoption enthusiast meter of intoxication “Drunk-o-meter” in 1938. The following year, Indiana became the first state in setting a limit of blood alcohol concentration (0.15, almost double the actual limit). A measure improving the technology to monitor the concentration of alcohol, other states began setting their own limits, for the enforcement of the laws on driving while intoxicated.

When Did State DUI Laws Become Uniform?

The American Medical Association and federal agencies recommended that states with laws on driving under the influence set the levels of blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or less, but to have the freedom of setting their own guidelines. In addition, the states had different minimum ages for drinking alcohol, which ranged between 18 and 21 years, but according to researches, the higher was the minimum age to consume alcohol, the lower was the rate of crimes of driving while intoxicated.

This changed in 2000, when Congress passed a law that required each state to fix its limit of blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent and establish the minimum drinking age for alcohol is 21 years. Given that the penalty for violating the law consisted in the loss of millions of dollars in federal funding for highways, all states eventually fell in line. In 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board suggested lowering BAC limits to 0.05 percent.

How Can a DUI Lawyer Help Me?

A penalty for driving while intoxicated can result in large fines, loss of driving privileges and even imprisonment. In addition, it could affect your job and significantly increase the amount of your insurance. Given that the risks tend to be quite high, it is recommended that a lawyer who specializes in DUI to take your case. Your lawyer will know how to scrutinize the evidence against you, in order to ensure the protection of your rights and ensure the best possible outcome.