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What is Driving Under the Influence?

Driving under the influence (DUI) refers to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, depending on your state, there are several different terms for this offense, including: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Operating under the Influence (OUI), Operating while Intoxicated (OUI), Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), or Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OMVI). For purposes of Quizlaw, we will refer it as the catchall, DUI. And a DUI involves the following elements: 1) Driving/Operating a 2) motor vehicle 3) while under the influence of drugs or alcohol over the legal blood alcohol limit (.05 to .10, depending upon the state). It is important to note, however, that in many states where “illegal per se” laws are in effect, you do not have to be drunk to be charged with DUI, you only have to have a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit. In states that do not have “illegal per se” laws, blood-alcohol levels only provide evidence of intoxication, and a prosecutor would still need to prove intoxication through other factors, such as the smell of alcohol on the breath or bloodshot eyes.

Moreover, in some states, you do not even have to be operating a motor vehicle to be charged with DUI - you only need to be sitting behind the wheel; for instance, if you’ve pulled over to sleep it off, you can still be charged with DUI in certain states.