What are Drunk Driving Laws?

Patti Kate

It is dangerous for motorists to drive under the influence of alcohol, so it is generally illegal to do so. In most places, drunk driving laws make it illegal for a person to drive if he has consumed enough alcohol to be impaired, or if he is too young to legally drink alcohol. The level of intoxication at which it is illegal to drive may vary according to region and country. Penalties for this crime also vary among jurisdictions.

Drunk driving laws try to keep people who are inebriated from driving vehicles.
Drunk driving laws try to keep people who are inebriated from driving vehicles.

Driving under the influence (DUI) charges may lead to serious consequences, especially if a driver has previous DUI convictions. Drunk driving laws are instituted to protect civilians from injury or death caused by individuals who drive while intoxicated. Some states categorize drunk driving charges as felonies under certain circumstances.

Legal intoxication levels while driving vary by jurisdiction.
Legal intoxication levels while driving vary by jurisdiction.

In many cases, police officers enforce drunk driving laws by using field sobriety tests that let them assess a driver's level of intoxication. Although the assessment may be subjective, an officer's evaluation may allow him to determine whether the suspect's ability to drive was impaired. The officer's determination may be significant in court.

Many police departments do regular campaigns to educate the public about drunk driving.
Many police departments do regular campaigns to educate the public about drunk driving.

Drivers accused of violating drunk driving laws face criminal court proceedings. If he pleads guilty or is found guilty by a judge or jury, the driver will face a judge who assesses criminal penalties for the crime. The sentencing judge may commonly revoke or suspend a driver's license.

Jail time is one possible consequence of driving while intoxicated.
Jail time is one possible consequence of driving while intoxicated.

Repeat offenders may also face a jail sentence for violating drunk driving laws. The drunk driver may also be subject to fines and be placed on probation as well. He will then have to report regularly to his probation officer who will determine if any violations of probation have been made. Violations may result in more severe punishment. In many cases, the individual may be required to serve community work and be placed in a community service program.

In some countries, drunk driving laws may result in punishment involving other family members. For example, in Malaysia a drunk driver may face a jail sentence, and his spouse may also be jailed regardless of whether she was present or involved at the time of her husband's arrest. In Russia, drunk driving charges may lead to motor vehicle license suspension for several years, or driving rights may be permanently revoked.

Drunk driving laws typically call for strict penalties for underage drivers. Convicted juvenile offenders may be sentenced to juvenile detention centers as well as participation in some type of community program. Legal representation may be necessary for most convicted drunk driving offenders, whether they are underaged or adult.

A DUI may be classified as a felony when there are multiple infractions or the case involves an accident.
A DUI may be classified as a felony when there are multiple infractions or the case involves an accident.

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Discussion Comments

truman12

How do drunk driving laws vary by state? Are there any places where they are super strict about it? What about states where they are lenient?

whiteplane

If you get busted for drunk driving and you need help making sense of the laws the best thing to do is get a DUI lawyer. They can walk you through the process, represent your interests and probably get you a milder penalty. You will not get off without consequences of course, but they will be less if you have legal help.

ZsaZsa56

I am really happy to see that drunk driving laws are getting more and more strict and more heavily enforced. There is absolutely no excuse for drunk driving. It has been a scourge on society for as long as there have been cars, and probably even before that with horses and wagons and what not.

It is amazing to think that less than 50 years ago drunk driving was still an acceptable taboo and most people got off with a slap on the wrist at worst. Think of how many innocent lives have been lost to this senseless practice. It is abut time that we started to wise up and get tough.

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