Legal Dictionary

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Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is the offense of operating a motor vehicle in a mentally or physically impaired condition caused by taking drugs or consuming an amount of alcohol sufficient to raise one's blood alcohol content above an amount set by statutory limit. DUI laws set an upper limit for a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) (.08% in California). If the driver's blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, he/she can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). DUI and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired) refer to the same offense.

In California, two different cases are brought against a person who has been arrested for a DUI. First is the DMV case (Department of Motor Vehicles case) whereby an administrative hearing is conducted which includes an examination of the officer's report and the results of the breath, blood, or urine tests. If the review shows that the blood alcohol content (BAC) level was less than .08% (in California) the suspension/ revocation of the defendant's license is set aside.

Second is the criminal case – the state's case against the defendant for breaking the law. The criminal case can result in a misdemeanor conviction, driver's license suspension, jail time, fines, classes for alcohol education, community service, vehicle impoundment, ignition interlock device installation or a combination of these things.