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Although every state prohibits operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances (drugs), laws and penalties vary from state to state. Terminology also varies in each state. Many states use the acronym DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while impaired / intoxicated). Other states use DUII (driving under the influence of intoxicants); OVI (operating a vehicle under the influence); OWI (operating while impaired / intoxicated); OUI (operating under the influence). Some states have more sever charges such as an Extreme DUI if your blood alcohol concentration is quite high. Some state have a separate charge of DWAI (driving while ability impaired) if you show impairment but your BAC is somewhere below a .08 percent.
Every state also has some form of implied consent law. These laws typically provide for a penalty (typically a license suspension or revocation) for refusing a breath, blood, or urine test. In many states implied consent laws also provide for a penalty for failing a breath or blood test. A person 21 years or older fails a breath test if their blood alcohol content or BAC registers .08% or greater. You have a right to appeal or challenge any implied consent penalty if you act within the time allotted by your state.
In most states, drunk driving is a misdemeanor crime. However, if you have a sufficient number of prior convictions or a child in the car or someone is killed or injured, the offense may be classified as a felony crime. Not every state has felony DUI offenses but many do. The trend is for more and more states to increase DUI penalties.
Penalties for drunk driving vary from state to state. Most states have imposed a variety of mandatory minimum penalties if you're convicted. These penalties often include jail time (at least for a second conviction); fines; substance abuse treatment / classes; and a license suspension or revocation. Any license suspension / revocation is distinct from the suspension / revocation received for failing or refusing the breath test. Some states require you to install an ignition interlock device and / or obtain an SR-22 or FR-44 from your insurance company.
It is important to understand the laws of the state in which you're charged, because the rules and penalties in one state do not necessarily apply in another state. Consult the directory below for information on the drunk driving laws in your particular state.