Original content from | Commercial Services | Talent Partnerships
Your epoints

What is the legal definition of 'drunk driving'?

DUI Legal Definition

Neil Shouse (Defense Attorney) gives expert video advice on: What is the legal definition of 'drunk driving'?; What is a 'DUI'?; What is a 'DWI'? and more...

There are two legal definitions for 'Drunk Driving'. The first one is 'Driving Under the Influence'(DUI), which is driving when your are impaired. In this case, your mental faculties and physical abilities are compromised by the consumption of alcohol to the point where you can no longer drive your vehicle safely. There is a fact that over a million American drivers are arrested for DUI every year. The second definition of 'Drunk Driving' is driving with a blood alcohol concentration or content of 0.08 or higher. Every state in the United States consider these two things as two independent and separate crimes. A person who is arrested under the suspicion of being drunk and whose Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level is measured to be 0.08 or higher will be charged under these two crimes.

What is a 'DUI'?

DUI' is the acronym for Driving Under Influence.Most often that means driving under the influence of alcohol, but it can also mean driving under the influence of drugs or sometimes a combination of both. It means the ability to exercise control over the vehicle that is driving the vehicle will be cautioned as you aren't normal under these circumstances due to the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What is a 'DWI'?

DWI is an acronym for Driving While Intoxicated. It really means the same thing as DUI, Driving Under the Influence. It's just that different states use different acronyms to describe the offense. For example, New York and Texas refer to drunk driving as DWI, whereas other states like Nevada and California refer to drunk driving as DUI.

What is a 'OUI'?

OUI is operating under the influence. It's an acronym. It means the same thing as DWI, driving while intoxicated, and DUI, driving under the influence. It means operating a motor vehicle while you are either intoxicated or have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.

The legal definition of driving is "exercising control over a motor vehicle". The common sense definition, and what we typically think of, is somebody who is driving down the street or driving down the highway. However, for the purposes of DUI law, driving can be a broader concept. For example, if you are sitting in your car with the motor running, even if the car's not moving, that can be considered driving. If you are seated in the car and the keys are in the ignition, but you have not yet started the motor, that can be considered driving for the purposes of DUI law. It's exercising control over a motor vehicle, broadly speaking, not necessarily having the vehicle in motion.

Drunk in the context of drunk driving means that the person is impaired. It means that their ability to think, their reaction times, their sensory perceptions, their ability to perform physical tasks, dividing their attention among multiple stimuli and multi-activities is compromised by virtue of having consumed alcohol.

If I pass out drunk in the back of my car, can I be charged with drunk driving?

If that's the only evidence there is that you are passed out drunk in the back of your car, then no, you cannot be charged with drunk driving. However, if there is evidence that before you got in the back of your car and passed out, that you had been driving the vehicle and while you were driving you were already impaired, then you could be charged with drunk driving.

What is 'Blood Alcohol Content'?

BAC is an acronym for ‘Blood Alcohol Concentration'. It refers to the proportion of alcohol in your blood; the number of grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood. For example, if you had eight grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood then your BAC would be .08, which across the United States is the legal limit.

What is an 'objective test' for intoxication?

Primarily, an objective test would be a blood test, a breath test or a urine test that determines your BAC level and assigns a numeric value to your level of intoxication. This doesn't depend on the impressions of the police officer. It is something that is objectively determined and is presumably the same for everybody.

What is a 'subjective test' for intoxication?

In the Driving Under Influence context, a subjective test or subjective indicators of impairment primarily refers to the impression of the police officer. The officer sees how you're driving, sees how stable you are on your feet, how coherent you are, and how you do on your field sobriety test. Based on this, he forms a subjective impression, or an opinion as to whether or not you're intoxicated.