Understanding DUI LawsYou are on your way home from a club, party or other social event. All of a sudden, you hear the siren. You glance in your rearview mirror and see the flashing red lights. You pull over and stop your car. You wonder why you are being stopped. You put your window down as an officer steps up and says, "Sir, I need to see your driver's license and proof of insurance"? You take your driver's license out of your wallet and hand it to him. Then, you get your proof of insurance out of your glove compartment and give that to him. He says, "Sir, I stopped you because your car was weaving back and forth across the center line. Sir, I'm going to need you to step out of the car." Once outside the car, the officer asks you to walk a straight line and breathe into a breathalyzer. The officer says, "Sir, because of the results of the breathalyzer, I'm going to have to arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI). You are placed in handcuffs and seated in the backseat of a patrol car. You are taken downtown and put in jail. What has just taken place? What has happened to you? What is going on? How serious is this? What has happened is that you have been arrested on dui charges. DUI stands for, "driving under the influence." What is this? What does it mean? How is it defined? Driving under the influence (DUI) is commonly referred to as "drunk driving." It refers to operating a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit set by statute. Your complete intoxication is not required for dui charges to be brought against you. The level of alcohol or drugs in your body must simply be enough to prevent you from thinking clearly or driving safely. State laws specify the levels of blood alcohol content at which a person is presumed to be driving under the influence. At the present time, it is now illegal in every state and the District of Columbia to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more. DUI laws are state-specific, complicated and ever changing. However, every state now has strict DUI penalties in place that are designed to keep people from drinking and driving. Probation, community service, impoundment of your vehicle or jail time are some of the things you face under DUI laws. If that is not bad enough, how about losing your job or facing court fees and fines over $5,000? Even if it is your first DUI conviction, you could face losing your driver's license, have an ignition interlock device installed, have insurance coverage problems or be assigned to take alcohol education classes at your expense. Did you know a DUI conviction can even also mean restricted interstate and international travel? DUI laws are only going to get tougher and tougher in the future as states across the United States crack down harder and harder on drunk driving, DUI, DWI or however drinking and driving is referred to. Some examples of DUI laws already in place are:
- Administrative license suspension laws are now in place in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Suspension or revoking of your auto license traditionally follows a conviction for alcohol-impaired driving. Administrative license suspension is a procedure where your license is taken before conviction if you refuse or fail to take a chemical test. Because these administrative license suspension laws are invoked right after your arrest and are independent of criminal procedures, they have been found to be more effective than traditional post-conviction sanctions
- In 32 states, multiple offenders may have to give up their vehicles
- Some offenders in 47 states and the District of Columbia are permitted to drive only if their vehicles have been equipped with ignition interlocks. These devices analyze your breath and disable the ignition if you have been drinking
- Laws prohibiting the driver, passengers, or both from possessing an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle are in place in 43 states and the District of Columbia.