Everyone knows how important it is to never drive while under the influence of alcohol. However, it is also important to understand the laws that relate to DUIs. For instance, did you know that there are two separate laws that govern impaired driving? If you have ever wondered how drunk you have to be to get in trouble for driving, you should take the time to learn what the law actually says. This guide will go over this.
The Two Laws
So there are two laws that establish what is and is not allowed when it comes to mixing alcohol and driving. These two laws are designed to complement each other and each cover aspects that the other does not. This is the reason why someone is often charged with two separate counts of driving while impaired. You can be charged for breaking these two laws independently. The two laws are:
- It is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level above 0.08.
- It is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired to the point where it is unsafe to drive.
At first glance, it seems like these laws are redundant. However, upon closer inspection, you can see that one is objective while the other is subjective. Generally, a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 is a good threshold for how much alcohol can be in a human’s system before it becomes unsafe to drive.
Alcohol affects people differently, though, and some people cannot safely drive a vehicle even with a blood alcohol content level below 0.08. In this way, you can think of the second law as a catch-all for all the irresponsible situations that do not technically violate the first law. For instance, the first law only forbids driving while under the influence of alcohol, but there are other mind-altering substances besides alcohol. If you drive while high on drugs, it is still illegal, and this is the law that governs it.
If you violate the first law, you will be charged with a DWI, or driving while intoxicated. If you violate the second law, you will be charged with a DUI, or driving under the influence. The consequences are often exactly the same, but the name of the charge depends on which law is violated. Sometimes breaking the second law results in something called a “Per se DUI”. Ultimately, these minor distinctions will depend on what state you are in when you are charged.
Contact a DUI lawyer, like a DUI lawyer in Fairfax, VA, if you were accused of driving under the influence. They will be able to help you navigate through the process and advise you of your next steps.
Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into how drunk you have to be to get a DUI.