DUI and DWI Regulations

DUI and DWI are two of the most common crimes committed by vehicle drivers which endanger the pedestrians.

A crime punishable by law

It is never right to drive while drunk. It is a threat to everyone’s life. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  fact sheet reveals that problem on DUI and DWI is equivalent to more than thirty percent of deaths on the road in 2010.

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are synonymous to drunk or impaired driving. It is a crime committed by individuals driving a motor vehicle while having excessive levels of alcohol in his blood.

DUI and DWI regulations also cover persons operating specific machinery after drinking excessive amount of alcoholic beverages or after taking prohibited drugs.

States impose 0.08% BAC

How do you gauge excessive level of alcohol? This refers to  specific blood alcohol content (BAC) in excess of the allowed threshold value.

In America, all states have assigned blood alcohol content (BAC) to higher than 0.08 percent for drunk or impaired driving to be considered as a crime. California has imposed a general 0.08 BAC limit but a lower BAC limit of 0.04 percent for commercial operators and an even lower limit of 0.01 percent for vehicle operators who are below 21 years of age or on probation for a previous DUI/DWI offense or previous DUI/DWI offenses.

Penalties for DUI and DWI

What are the penalties for DUI or DWI?

A conviction of DUI/DWI offense imposes either a multiple year jail term, stiff penalties such as expensive fees and even suspension of the license plates and vehicle. In some states, DUI or DWI regulations impose that drivers convicted of DUI/DWI offense must use special license plates recognizably different from the regular license plates. This is to reflect his conviction of a DUI/DWI offense to other drivers and pedestrians as well.

There are some states in the US that classify DUI and DWI as separate crimes with DUI being the lesser charge or the crime with a lesser degree of impairment. The level of impairment of a driver is determined by the BAC level at the time of arrest. The state may agree to a plea bargain in some cases to reduce the more serious offense of DWI to DUI. However, some states in the US do not make distinction between DUI/DWI such that any BAC over the allowed limit will be considered a crime.

Read more about US Drunk Driving Laws from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

Tests of balance and coordination

A police officer who suspects a driver of DUI/DWI may try to stop the vehicle and subject him to a field sobriety test to check if the apprehended driver is intoxicated or not. This is a requirement because the police officer must have a probable cause to make an arrest for DUI/DWI offense.

One field test which would verify if apprehended driver is intoxicated is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test by which the police officer checks if there is involuntary jerking of the suspect’s eyes.

The second field test is the walk-and-turn test which measures balance. The suspect is made to walk heel to toe on a line and the police officer can give some other instructions to further test the driver’s balance.

The final test to be administered by the police officer is a one-leg stand which requires the suspect to stand on one leg for 30 seconds to determine balance and coordination.

When found guilty of DUI or DWI, drivers seek legal assistance from DUI/DWI lawyers. Get all information from the state/s where drunk driving or impaired driving offense has been committed.

Read more on US Law on DUI and DWI specific to each state.