State DUI Laws, How They Differ from Federal DUI Laws

State DUI laws vary in how harsh they are and what penalties are given for driving under the influence.  In your state, the term DUI might not be used. Instead, a term such as DWI, driving while intoxicated, OUI, operating under the influence, OWI, operating while intoxicated, or something similar might be given to what is commonly called drunk driving.

State DUI laws conform to Federal DUI standards in only one respect – they must have as a maximum legal limit for DUI driving a blood alcohol content of .08 or lower. This is true since 2000 when Congress passed a law to pressure states to lower acceptable DUI levels or face a loss of Federal highway funds.

States with Tough DUI Laws

For the vast majority of states, the DUI threshold for drunk driving is a BAC (blood alcohol content/concentration) of .08. The toughness of the laws isn’t so much the BAC level, but the punishment meted out. For example, in Washington State, if your breathalyzer test is .08 or higher, or if you refuse a test, your driver’s license will have a hole punched in it and you’ll be subject to a 90-day suspension even if you are later cleared of the DUI/OUI.

In Michigan, the law allows for a 93-day jail stay for a first offense, and many judges are sticking it to those convicted of DUI charges. In Georgia, a first offense leads to a 4-month suspension of your license; a second offense is 18 months. In Florida, law allows for a 9-month jail sentence for a first offense, plus loss of license and a stiff fine. In Iowa, and OWI offense that involves an accident will mean you’re required to have a breathalyzer ignition interlock installed on your car, at your expense, so you’ll have the embarrassment of taking a breathalyzer before you can drive to work or anywhere else.

How do laws in your state compare?  It’s a very good idea to know exactly what you’ll face if charged or convicted of DUI, DWI, OUI or OWI.

DUI Laws and Common Sense

After knowing the drunk driving laws in your state – or any state you’re visiting on vacation or work – the best thing to do is use common sense whenever you’re planning to drink. We all know that our judgment can be impaired when we use alcohol, so plan ahead and stick to your plan.

Limit yourself to just a few drinks if you plan to drive. If you repeatedly demonstrate that you can’t limit yourself, you might need alcohol counseling. At the very least, leave your keys home and use public transportation or ride with someone else – someone with common sense and self-control.

Play it safe whenever you plan to drink. With a bit of planning, you’ll find a way to stay on the right side of state DUI laws and still enjoy yourself at the ballgame, the bar, the Renaissance festival, the bachelor’s party or a quiet dinner with friends. Keep the consequences of state DUI laws in mind every time you plan to drink.

Obviously, drinking and driving is simply not worth the risk of losing your license, facing a heavy fine, possibly losing your liberty for a time, or being the cause of someone else losing their life.

DUI Attorneys Where You Live

If you make a mistake and get caught, finding experienced DUI lawyers is vitally important. They will know how to have the DUI charges thrown out if at all possible – tainted tests, improper procedures, reliable reasons for a false test result. Skilled DUI attorneys will also help minimize the negative impact to you if you are convicted of DUI/OUI under your state DUI laws.