If you’re charged with driving under the influence (DUI), there are a number of applicable laws that you may be prosecuted for. These involve some complex regulations to be aware of.
Driving Under the Influence
The main laws in question are the driving under the influence (DUI) laws themselves. These state laws prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Per Se DUI Laws
The blood alcohol percentage (usually .08 percent) that has been established by the various states establish “per se” evidence of intoxication. In other words, arresting officers do not need to provide proof of intoxicated behavior, like slurred speech or loss of motor coordination, to prove their case. Video evidence of a motorist’s behavior may be used to further cement the case, and additional circumstances like swerving, an accident, or combative behavior during the traffic stop may make the case easier to prove or add to the charges, but a blood alcohol level over the threshold is all that’s needed for “per se” DUI charges to be filed.
DUI Laws Related to Drugs
Since there are a variety of drugs taken by motorists which impair their ability to drive, laws against drugged driving are increasingly on the books. They provide for allowable levels (or zero tolerance) for various common drugs. This is a complex and evolving area of the law, since the recreational drugs of choice (as well as prescription drugs) change year after year.
Open Container Laws
While not directly related to DUI law, a motorist can find themselves in trouble for having an open container of alcohol in their car, even if a passenger is drinking from it. This is an area where the laws are highly variable from one state to another. The main thing is to understand that for the most part, unsealed containers of alcohol cannot be in the passenger compartment of a vehicle. In some jurisdictions, even sealed containers of alcohol must be secured in a trunk or rear cargo area that is inaccessible while driving. A sealed container means one that is still in the condition that it came from the manufacturer.
Empty containers are not considered open containers. But having empty containers may raise questions that are hard to answer, and law enforcement may charge you if a cold beer bottle or can with residue from a beverage is found.
You may have more than one charge to defend yourself against in an alcohol-related charge. You should hire an experienced DUI defense attorney if you’ve been charged with DUI.