Driving under the influence of alcohol (driving while intoxicated, drunk driving, drinking and driving, drink-driving) or other drugs, is the act of operating a motor vehicle (and even a bicycle, boat or horse in some jurisdictions) after having consumed alcohol, to the degree that mental and motor skills are impaired. It is a crime or offense in most countries around the world.
The specific criminal offense may be called, depending on the jurisdiction, driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OMVI), driving under the influence [of alcohol or other drugs] (DUI), driving under the combined influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, driving under the influence per se or drunk in charge [of a vehicle]. Such laws may also apply to boating (as in Canada ), piloting aircraft, and even bicycling in some states such as California.
Historically, guilt was established by observed driving symptoms, such as weaving; administering field sobriety tests, such as a walking a straight line heel-to-toe or standing on one leg for 30 seconds; and the arresting officer's subjective opinion of impairment. Starting with the introduction in Norway in 1936 of the world’s first per se law which made it an offense to drive with more than a specified amount of alcohol in the body, objective chemical tests have gradually supplemented the earlier purely judgmental ones. Limits for chemical tests are specific for blood alcohol concentration or concentration of alcohol in breath.
With the advent of a scientific test for blood alcohol content (BAC), enforcement regimes moved to pinning culpability for the offense to strict liability based on driving while having more than a prescribed amount of blood alcohol, although this does not preclude the simultaneous existence of the older subjective tests. BAC is most conveniently measured as a simple percent of alcohol in the blood by weight. It does not depend on any units of measurement. In Europe it is usually expressed as milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. However, 100 milliliters of blood weighs essentially the same as 100 milliliters of water, which weighs precisely 100 grams. Thus, for all practical purposes, this is the same as the simple dimensionless BAC measured as a percent. Since 2002 it has been illegal in all 50 US states to drive with a BAC that is 0.08% or higher.
The validity of the testing equipment/methods and mathematical relationships for the measurement of breath and blood alcohol have been criticized. (Taylor 2007)
Driving while consuming alcohol may be illegal within a jurisdiction. In some it is illegal for an open container of an alcoholic beverage to be in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle or in some specific area of that compartment.
The German model serves to reduce the number of accidents by identifying unfit drivers and removing them from traffic until their fitness to drive has been established again. The Medical Psychological Assessment (MPA) works for a prognosis of the fitness for drive in future, has an interdisciplinary basic approach and offers the chance of individual rehabilitation to the offender.
George Smith, a London taxi driver, was the first person to be convicted of drink driving, on 9 September 1897. He was fined 20 shillings.
The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 made it a "per se" offence to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) in excess of 80 mg/100 ml of blood. Refusal of a police officer's demand to provide a breath sample was made an offence at the same time and both began as summary conviction offences, with a mandatory minimum C$50 fine.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a generic term for a series of offences under the Criminal Code of Canada. The main offences are operating a motor vehicle while the ability to do so is impaired by alcohol or a drug, contrary to section 253(a) of the Canadian Criminal Code, and operating a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration of greater than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, contrary to section 253(b) of the Criminal Code. See Criminal Code Sections 253 to 259 Both offences can be committed by a person who is actually operating or driving a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or railway equipment or by a person who has care or control of such a vehicle. Care or control includes actual care or control and presumed care or control section 258(1)(a) where the person occupies the driver's seat. The latter is often the case where police find an individual sleeping behind the wheel.
The offences are usually investigated by the police coming across a driver with either an erratic driving pattern or who has been pulled over. The police may immediately have grounds to arrest for impaired driving and make an approved instrument demand section 254(3). Those grounds are based on various indicia of impairment. If the police merely have a suspicion of alcohol in the individual's body, they may make a demand section 254(2)that the driver give a sample of his breath into an approved screening device, which will determine the driver's blood-alcohol concentration on a preliminary, non-evidentiary basis. Based on the screening device results, if the police believe on reasonable and probable grounds that the driver is committing an offence under section 253 of the Criminal Code, the police can demand that the driver go to the police station to give samples of his breath for an approved instrument test, which would be used to prosecute the driver for over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
The minimum punishments for impaired driving or driving over 0.08% are:
In addition to the federal criminal laws, all provincial governments have enacted their own measures against impaired driving. Such laws complement the federal laws (part of the double aspect doctrine of Canadian constitutional law). Some provinces will suspend a driver's licence upon him or her being charged with impaired driving, rather than being convicted. Some provinces will automatically impose a licence suspension that runs longer than the driving prohibition handed down by the court. Provincial and federal driving prohibitions run concurrently if imposed for the same offence(s)at the same time.
In Ontario, a person convicted of a DUI must also complete an 8 month training course and install an ignition interlock device for a period of one year after the licence suspension. Jail time can be imposed for any first time Criminal Code drinking and driving offence. Jail is appropriate where there is an accident and/or the readings are high. Readings above 160 mg/100mLs are an aggravating circumstance. Jail is the minimum punishment for second and third offences.
Foreigners with recent (in the past 5 years) drunk-driving criminal convictions are generally refused entry at the border. Canada's Immigration Act section 36 considers any foreign drinking and driving outstanding charge or conviction as an Indictable offence (similar to a felony) unless a prosecutor has chosen to proceed by summary conviction.
On January 27, 2001, Andrey Knyazev, a Russian diplomat in Canada killed a Canadian woman while drinking and driving. He was imprisoned in Russia. This incident triggered a crackdown on drunk driving by diplomats in Canada.
On Dec 15, 2005, Charly Hart of Watford, Ontario, a man with a 35-year history of impaired driving which included thirty-nine convictions, was on the occasion of his latest such conviction sentenced to six years in prison, the most severe penalty ever handed down in Canada when the offence did not involve a fatality, and the maximum sentence permitted under the law.
Some states now have two statutory offenses. The first is the traditional offense, variously called driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) or operating while intoxicated/impaired (OWI). The second and more recent is the so-called illegal per se offense of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% (previously 0.10%) or higher. The first offense requires proof of intoxication, although evidence of BAC is admissible as rebuttably presumptive evidence of that intoxication; the second requires only proof of BAC at the time of being in physical control of a motor vehicle. An accused may be convicted of both offenses, but may only be punished for one.
It is also a criminal offense in all states to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs DUID, or under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs; the drugs themselves need not be illegal, but can be prescription or even over-the-counter. In some states, the effects of some herbal remedies (such as Kava Kava extract) fall into this category. This offense requires evidence of impairment as a result of the drugs or drugs and alcohol, although some states have passed laws making driving with the mere presence of certain drugs a criminal offense. A number of states have expanded upon DUI laws to make operating a motor vehicle while impaired a punishable offense, which includes sleep deprived driving, among other things. Some states also include a lesser charge of driving with a BAC of 0.05%; other states limit this offense to drivers under the age of 21. All states also now have zero tolerance laws: the license of anyone under 21 driving with a BAC of .01% or higher (.02% in some states) will be suspended.
The blood-alcohol limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%. Commercial drivers are also subject to stricter punishments for exceeding the blood-alcohol limit.
Pilots of aircraft may not fly less than eight hours after consuming alcohol, while under the impairing influence of alcohol or any other drug, or while showing a blood alcohol concentration equal to or greater than 0.04 grams per decilitre of blood.
The various versions of "driving under the influence" generally constitute a misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in jail). However, the offense may be elevated to a felony (punishable by a longer term in state prison) if the incident caused serious injury (felony DUI), death (vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide), or extensive property damage (a state specified dollar amount) or if the defendant has a designated number of prior DUI convictions within a given time period (commonly, 3 prior convictions within 7 years). California, which is being followed by a growing number of states, now charges second-degree murder where the legal state of mind of malice exists -- that is, where the defendant exhibited a reckless indifference to the lives of others.
An SR-22 is an official documentation required to redeem a suspended drivers license and get a car registered at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A SR22 Filing is a form issued by an insurance company which removes a suspension order placed by the DMV's office on an individual's driving privilege. The most common reason for an SR22 filing is an arrest for Driving Under Intoxication (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The filing provides a guarantee to the state that an insurance company has issued at least minimum liability coverage for the person making that filing and that the insurance company will notify the DMV should the insurance ever lapse for any reason.
In the UK, driving or attempting to drive whilst above the legal limit or unfit through drink carries a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and a minimum 12 months' driving ban. An endorsement for a drink-driving offence remains on a driving licence for 11 years. Being in charge of a vehicle whilst over the legal limit or unfit through drink could result in three months' imprisonment plus a fine of up to £2,500 and a driving ban.
The penalty for refusing to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis is a maximum six months' imprisonment, up to £5000 fine and a driving ban of at least 12 months. Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, a minimum two-year driving ban and a requirement to pass an extended driving test before the offender is able to drive legally again.
The offence of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol is one to which there is no defence, as such. However, it may be possible to argue that special reasons exist which are such that you should not be disqualified from driving despite having committed the offence. Reasons which have been held to amount to special reasons include:
Note, however, that special reasons are notoriously difficult to establish and the burden of proof is always upon the accused to establish them.
Note: "Zero" usually means "below detection limit".
Road laws are state or territory based, but all states and territories have set the maximum BAC at 0.05%.
In Australia, laws allow police officers to stop any driver and perform a random breath test without reason. Roadblocks can be set up - for example leading out of town centres on Friday and Saturday nights, or during football or other events - where every single driver will be breath-tested. This differs from UK and US laws, where police generally need a reason to suspect that the driver is intoxicated, before issuing a breath and/or sobriety test.
There are also other restrictions for drivers in Victoria:
Readings over 0.08% but under 0.15% BAC, and 0.15% BAC and above (legally defined as Drink Driving) comprise separate offences, the latter attracting heavier penalties. Persistent offenders may be barred from driving for terms up to and including life, and may also be imprisoned.
The law allows a police officer to require any driver to perform a random saliva test for methamphetamine, Cannabis or MDMA, all of which are subject to a zero limit