Driving Under the Influence is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, other drugs or intoxicating compounds. In most states a driver is legally considered to be under the influence if he/she has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater, has used any illegal substance, or is impaired by medication. A driver's BAC is based on the ratio of alcohol to blood or breath. However, an individual showing alcohol levels between .05 and .08 percent may be convicted of DUI if additional evidence determines that the driver was impaired.

The effect of alcohol on an individual is determined primarily by two factors: the amount of alcohol consumed and the rate at which it is absorbed by the body. Other contributing factors include gender, body weight, alcohol tolerance, mood, environment and the amount of food consumed.

From the first drink, alcohol affects coordination and judgment. Even with a BAC well below .08 percent, a person's reaction time slows. The risk of being in a crash begins to increase between a BAC of .04 and .05 percent and increases rapidly thereafter. By the time a driver reaches a BAC of .06 percent, he/she is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as a non-drinking driver. By the time a driver reaches a BAC of .08 percent, he/she is 11 times more likely to be killed in a single-vehicle crash than a non-drinking driver.

The only way to rid the body of alcohol is time. Fresh air, coffee, showers and food cannot help a person sober up. It takes about one hour for the body to metabolize one drink. Each of the following has a comparable amount of alcohol and counts as one drink: one 12-ounce mug of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine or a one 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor.

Some fact related to Driving Under the Influence (DUI):

In 1997, 5,477 young people died in motor vehicle crashes. Twenty-one percent of the young drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.
Young people age 15-20 make up 6.7 percent of the total driving population in this country but are involved in 14 percent of all fatal crashes.
In 1997, over 60 percent of youth (16-20) that died in passenger vehicle crashes were not wearing seat belts.
In 1997, almost one quarter (22 percent) of those who died in speed-related crashes were youth.
In the last decade, over 68,000 teens have died in car crashes.
Sixty-five percent of teen passenger deaths occur when another teenager is driving.
Nearly half of the fatal crashes involving teenagers occur at nighttime (between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.).
Forty-one percent of fatal crashes involving 16 year-old drivers were single vehicle crashes.
One quarter of fatally injured teen drivers (16-20 years old) in 1995 had a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) at or above . 10 percent, even though all were under the minimum legal drinking age and are not legally permitted to purchase alcohol.
Two out of three teenagers killed in motor vehicle crashes are males.
Statistics from the Nationall Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 1997 Teen Crash Statistics
Additional consequences of Driving Under the Influence (DUI):

A DUI conviction is a permanent part of an offender’s driving record.

The offender may lose work time.

The offender will be required to complete an alcohol and drug evaluation and an alcohol/drug remedial education course or substance abuse treatment program before his/her driving privileges are reinstated.

The offender must meet the requirements of the Secretary of State’s Department of Administrative Hearings prior to obtaining a restricted driving permit.

The offender’s vehicle may be impounded or seized.

A Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) may be installed in the offender’s vehicle as a condition of driving relief.

The offender will be subject to high-risk auto insurance rates.

The DUI criminal charge is prosecuted and adjudicated in the courts. This charge is separate from the statutory summary suspension, which is an administrative process. A person convicted of DUI who lost his/her driving privileges because of a summary suspension will have that time credited to the minimum driver's license revocation period.

Full driving privileges are lost for a minimum of five years if a driver receives a second conviction for any of the following: DUI; leaving the scene of a personal injury or fatal crash; reckless homicide, or any combination of these offenses in a 20-year period. If a driver receives a third conviction for any of these offenses, regardless of the length of time between convictions, full driving privileges will be lost for a minimum of 10 years. If a driver receives a fourth or subsequent conviction, his/her license will be revoked permanently. If a driver is convicted of DUI in another state, your state of residence driving privileges will be revoked.

Comparing State DUI Laws
"Per Se" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level

As of August 2005, all states have DUI laws that deem "per se intoxicated" any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent. This means that drivers with a BAC at or above .08 are intoxicated in the eyes of the law, and no additional proof of driving impairment is necessary. 

"Zero Tolerance" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level

All states carry "zero tolerance" laws that target drivers under the legal drinking age. These laws penalize persons under 21 for operating a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their systems (a BAC above 0.0), or with negligible BAC levels such as .01 or .02 percent. 

"Enhanced Penalty" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level

Many states impose harsher penalties on DUI offenders with a particularly high BAC at the time of the offense, typically .15 to .20 percent. DUI offenders with a BAC at or above their state's enhanced penalty standards will likely face additional jail time, harsher fines, and more severe driver's license sanctions. 

"Implied Consent" Laws

"Implied consent" laws require vehicle drivers to submit to some form of chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine testing, if suspected of DUI. If a driver refuses to submit to such testing, implied consent laws carry penalties such as mandatory suspension of a driver's license, usually for six months to a year.


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