DUI Laws & DUI Penalties by State
In the U.S. it is a criminal offense to drive a vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08% or above in all States. This maximum prescribed legal alcohol limit for drivers is commonly known as the 'per se' limit.
The maximum legal BAC (blood alcohol content) level is 0.08% per se in ALL States
Any person that drives a vehicle with alcohol in their system that exceeds the maximum legal limit could be prosecuted for and convicted of DUI (driving under the influence).
While every State has the same maximum per se limit of 0.8%, there may be different legal limits for certain classes of drivers such as young drivers (minors), professional and commercial drivers and those drivers with a restricted drivers license. The legal limits for these drivers are lower and will vary from State to State. Some States operate a zero tolerance approach.
In addition to the 'per se' laws, in many States drivers can also be prosecuted for driving a vehicle while visibly impaired through alcohol and/or drugs, regardless of a drivers actual BAC (blood alcohol content).
Penalties upon a DUI conviction are different in each State. Most States have enhanced penalties for drivers convicted of DUI with a high blood alcohol content (commonly known as aggravated DUI or extreme DUI).
Any driver convicted of drunk driving with a high BAC will face stiffer penalties such as increased fines and / or jail time and longer revocation / suspension periods.
Forfeiture / seizure of a drunk drivers vehicle or license plates could also be a possibility and ignition interlock (IID) drivers license restrictions are common in many States.
If a driver is charged with DUI or an alcohol related driving offense, in most States it will usually involve two separate hearings, a criminal hearing held in a criminal court and an administrative drivers license hearing. The State agency responsible for motor vehicles and driving licenses, usually the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will undertake the administrative hearing.
Drivers license revocation or suspension will inevitably follow a DUI / drunk driving conviction and often before a conviction if a chemical test has been refused.
All States have implied consent laws in place. Implied consent is consent that is inferred by a persons actions rather than consent that is expressly given by a person either verbally or in writing.
When a person applies for and obtains a drivers license, legislation states that the person has subsequently given their implied consent to be subject to a chemical test by providing a sample of blood, urine or breath or a field sobriety test if police officers require them to do so. Refusal to submit to a chemical test or field sobriety test can lead to a criminal conviction that carries penalties equal too or harsher than a DUI conviction.
Common punishments when convicted of a DUI / drunk driving related offense could include:
- drivers license suspension / revocation
- imprisonment in a state or county jail
- vehicle impoundment and/or vehicle confiscation
- vehicle license plate confiscation
- ignition interlock device (IID) restrictions
- mandatory attendance at DUI schools
- alcohol and/or substance abuse evaluations
- alcohol and/or substance abuse treatment programs
- drug and/or alcohol screening
- house arrest
- community service
Drivers convicted of an alcohol related driving offense will also see an increase in their auto insurance rates and will often have to submit an SR-22 filing (commonly known as SR-22 insurance) or an FR-44 filing if they are residents of Florida (commonly known as FR-44 insurance).
If you or someone you care about has been charged with DUI / drunk driving or any other alcohol related driving offense then it is recommended that an experienced DUI lawyer is contacted as soon as possible, this is especially important if there are one or more aggravating factors involved in the DUI / drunk driving case.