Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

People at a gathering

DUI (driving under the influence) means operating a vehicle, including a boat or an aircraft, while you are impaired by (that means your behavior is affected by) alcohol, any illegal drug, a legal drug, or an inhalant (anything that is “huffed.”) You are “operating a vehicle” if you are in control of the vehicle, even if you are not driving it.  For example, you could be convicted of this crime if you are sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys between the seats.

Even if you do not feel impaired, you can be guilty of this crime if your blood alcohol measures more than .08 percent (80 milligrams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or .08 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of breath).  The level of alcohol in your blood can be determined by a chemical test of your breath test or your blood, but police can charge you with DUI even without a test.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious matter, with severe penalties.  If you are stopped and charged with DUI, you will be treated as an adult even if you are under 18. You will be subject to the same penalties as an adult.  Even for a first offense, you will definitely be sentenced to some jail time.  You will also have to pay a fine, and your license will be taken away or you will not be allowed to drive for a period of time.  The penalties get even tougher for repeat offenses.

The good news is that you also have all the rights and privileges of an adult offender, including the right to a court-appointed attorney if you cannot afford to pay an attorney.  Often it is in your best interest to ask for a lawyer right away and wait until you have met with your lawyer before you say or admit to anything.

Section 1 of this guide describes your rights if you are stopped, searched, or arrested by a police officer for any kind of crime.  That advice also applies if you are stopped, searched, or arrested for DUI, so check that part of this guide for very important information. Also check the suggestions below in this section.