Public safety is the primary concern of DWI and DUI laws. This is why it only makes sense that these laws apply to drunk driving and to those driving under the influence of drugs. A driver who is high on drugs poses the same threat as a driver who is under the influence of alcohol.
All states have drug DUI laws, but many of them have taken different approaches to these laws. With that being said, depending on the state you are in, if you are found driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the consequences may vary.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
DUI cases, whether due to drugs or alcohol, can result in two types of consequences: criminal penalties or administrative penalties. Criminal penalties are imposed by the court following a DUI conviction. Administrative penalties, on the other hand, are imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles following certain DUI arrests.
Every state has different consequences for DUI convictions. However, alcohol and drug DUIs typically receive similar consequences. For a first offense, defendants may see fines that range from $200 to $2,000 and up to a year in jail. Substantial jail time isn’t typical for a first DUI offense.
Many states have administrative per se laws that prohibit driving if you have a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.8% or higher. For a typical violation, the DMV will commonly suspend the convicted person’s driver’s license. Administrative suspensions can be triggered by an arrest once a chemical test has shown that the driver’s BAC was higher than the legal limit. Even if the driver is not convicted of a DUI in criminal court, an administrative suspension can still occur.
Additionally, administrative per se laws typically only apply to alcohol. If a driver is arrested for being under the influence of drugs, they won’t have to worry about administrative consequences.
Drugged Driving Laws
Drugged driving laws are either considered per se or impairment. Impairment laws are based on the effect of the actual alcohol or drugs on the driver. Per se DUI laws make it illegal to drive with a certain amount of drugs or alcohol in your system.
State laws normally prohibit driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. However, every state has different meanings. For example, in some states, a DUI conviction requires proof that the motorist was incapable of driving or substantially impaired. In other states, the prosecution just needs to prove that the driver was affected in some type of way by whatever substance he or she ingested.
Per Se Laws
Prosecutors don’t have to worry about the impairment with a per se DUI charge. All they need to do is prove that the driver had a prohibited amount of a substance in their body. Every state does not have per se DUI laws that apply to drugs.
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