Driving While Impaired or Intoxicated Law and Legal Definition

All states have laws against driving intoxicated, which vary by state. Legal intoxication is defined as a certain level of blood alcohol content (BAC), usually measurable at .10 or .08 percent. States that use the lower .08 BAC to define intoxication are eligible for more federal assistance, and therefore, there is a trend toward lowering the BAC limit.

State laws impose penalites on drunk drivers, which range from paying fines to incarceration and loss of vehicle and driving privileges. In general, repeat offenders or offenders with a high BAC level are subject to more severe penalties. Some states have alternative sentencing programs, allowing offenders to obtain treatment and/or operate a vehicle with an ignition locking system. Laws against drunk driving usually apply with equal force to driving under the influence of any intoxicating substance.

Many states have enacted laws which provide for enhanced penalties for those previously convicted of DUI/DWI. Such laws provide for increased fines, length of incarceration, and other restrictions for subsequent offenders. Laws very by state, so local laws should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.