Driving under the influence, or DUI for short, is the term given to the
act of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Though most cases
of DUI deal with persons who are under the influence of alcohol it is
also illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of
marijuana, cocaine or any other illicit drug that impairs your judgment
and/or motor skills. Also, though some believe that you can only be
charged while driving a car it is actually illegal to operate any
motorized vehicle; a boat, an off-road motorcycle, a tractor, etc while
under the influence.
Drinking and driving - as it's commonly referred to - is one of the
most discussed and debated legal issues facing American society
today. All states in America are adopting harsher penalties when
it comes to drinking and driving. This is because of the major impact
and ramifications that can result from it, and the negative ways in
which the crime has been affecting society.
Many lives have been lost and many families have been destroyed because
of this senseless crime. Some feel that penalties for an individual who
gets drunk and drives with the end result being serious injury, or
death are not currently strong enough. Many organizations around the
country, such as MADD - Mother's Against Drunk Driving - are pushing
for penalties more in line with someone who commits murder.
Difference Between DUI and DWI
Another term for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is DWI,
which stands for driving while intoxicated. In some states the two
terms are interchangeable, with both carrying the same legal
definitions and penalties. Other states differentiate the two by
certain factors, such as level of intoxication, recklessness of driving
and whether or not personal injury or death resulted. In theses states
usually a DWI would be more severe than a DUI.
It is possible to have a DWI reduced to a DUI provided a certain set of
criteria are met. These criteria can include but are not limited to;
whether it's a first offence, the defendant's likelihood of repeating
the offense and his or her level of remorse for their actions. In
addition to these examples there are a number of other factors that are
usually determined on a case-by-case basis.
State Versus Federal Laws
Here you will find information on each state's DUI or DWI laws. Though
each and every state has a separate set of laws pertaining to DUI, or
DWI, there are some federal laws that are consistent across all 50
states. These include a legal blood alcohol limit of .08 for anyone
operating a motor vehicle. Also anyone under the federal legal drinking
age of 21-years old who is found to have any amount of alcohol in their
system will be automatically charged under the federal "zero tolerance"
law for underage drinkers operating a motor vehicle.
Whatever situation you find yourself in regarding driving under the
influence, or while intoxicated, you will be best served to hire a good
lawyer. Try to find someone who is familiar with the laws in your state
and has experience defending individuals who have been charged with a
DUI, or DWI.