Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that diminish a person’s capabilities is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Regardless of what your country calls it, “driving under the influence,” “driving intoxicated” or any other name, it is considered a severe charge and carries an appropriate punishment. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 40 percent of all road deaths in the United States are related, to some extent, to alcohol.
The DUI Laws section of Lawyer.com covers a wide range of issues related to intoxicated driving, including legal proceedings, different types of charges, how to defend yourself against a DUI charge, current sanctions, summaries of laws in each state and more.
What Does It Mean To Be Intoxicated?
For the DUI laws, you are “intoxicated” when your ability to drive a motor vehicle safely is significantly affected by the consumption of alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription drugs. Because different substances affect people in different ways, laws “per se” establish measurable limits. For example, if it is found that a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent, it is considered intoxicated. Similarly, some states presume that any amount of certain drugs in the bloodstream constitutes intoxication.
How Did The Dui Laws Arise?
New York was the first state to enact laws on the crime of drunk driving in 1910. California and some other countries followed a year later, but no law offered a clear definition of what it meant to be drunk or intoxicated. On the other hand, the proof of the level of intoxication was left in the hands of the observations of the officer who arrested the individual. Therefore, these first laws were not very practical to apply.
The states noted that they had to establish an objective way to measure the level of intoxication of a driver, which led to the invention and enthusiastic adoption of the Drunk-o-meter drunk meter in 1938. The following year, Indiana became in the first state to set a blood alcohol concentration limit (0.15, almost twice the current limit). As technology improved to monitor the concentration of alcohol, other countries began to set their boundaries for enforcing laws on drunk driving.