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All states prohibit operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In most states, these offenses are called DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) or DUI (Driving Under the Influence). Other states term these offenses either OUI (Operating Under the Influence) or OMVI (Operating a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated). Despite the different terminology, most states’ laws are very similar, with violations often resulting in fines, jail time, probation and even driver’s license suspension. Every state’s legal limit for intoxication is .08 blood alcohol content (BAC).

Because of the unique nature of a DWI stop and subsequent investigation, it is best to divide a discussion of the law between what happens before and after a DWI arrest.

Before Arrest
Drivers pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving could face a variety of field sobriety tests to determine their level of intoxication.

After Arrest
Drivers arrested for drunk driving may encounter issues that include a license suspension and criminal charges.

Last update: Aug. 29, 2008

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