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DUI, Drunk Driving Defined

07th September 2010
By Jon Stone in Criminal Law
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What exactly is drunk driving? There are several different terms used to describe the idea, including DUI, DWI, etc. While each state has its own laws for each criminal offense, and while each state will define DUI and DWI differently, there are some general meanings that can apply all of these terms. Here are just a few to consider.

1. When most people think of "drunk driving" they think of being "over the limit." In all states, a BAC of .08 or above is considered a DUI or DWI offense, and you can be arrested. The laws do not take into account your tolerance for alcohol in the blood or your safe driving practices. According to this definition, if you're over the limit, you're driving drunk.

2. A more stringent rule of thumb is to define "drunk driving" as having ANY amount of alcohol in your blood stream. Those who define it this way say that any alcohol is going to impair you at least somewhat and that if that is the case, you shouldn't be on the road. For them, this is considered drunk driving.

3. It is also important to remember that alcohol is not the only substance that can put you in a "drunken" state. Various kinds of drugs and medications have the same or similar effects as alcohol and you can be arrested based on this kind of intoxication as well. In some states this fits more under the DWI charge, but again, each state is different. No matter which state you are in, if you are "impaired" due to drugs or alcohol, legal or illegal, you are potentiall guilty of a criminal offense.

No matter how you define drunk driving, driving with alcohol or drugs in your system is dangerous. Statistics from the National Traffic Safety Administration show very clearly that you are at a much higher risk of accident or death (as are those around you) when there is ANY alcohol present in the blood stream. It is best to live by the mantra "buzzed driving is drunk driving." Get a designated driver, call a cab, sleep it off. But don't get onto the road after you've had anything to drink.

If your own safety and the safety of those around you is not enough to convince you of this idea, you should also know that just because you may not have had enough to put you over the .08 magic line, this does not mean that you cannout be arrested for DUI or DWI anyway. If there is any alcohol present in your blood stream and if the officer believes that you pose a risk due to your level of intoxication, the officer can arrest you no matter what the BAC reading is.

If you are arrested for DUI, you need to know your rights and next steps. Contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible to get yourself on the right track (Baltimore DUI Lawyer).

Jonathan Stone is an expert on the practical implications of criminal law. He lives in the Baltimore, Maryland metro area and writes articles for information hubs such as and Virginia DUI Lawyer Virginia Blog.

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