How Drunk or High Does Someone Have To Be for a DUI Conviction?

Even though basically every driver knows never to drive while intoxicated, few people have a good understanding of the actual limitations. Do you know how drunk you need to be arrested? It is surprising how few people know this piece of information. In fact, most people do not even realize that there are two laws that govern DUIs:

  • It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content level above 0.08
  • It is illegal to drive while impaired

This guide will go over these two laws and explain everything you need to know.

The First Law

If you were wondering how drunk you had to be arrested for a DUI, the first law lays out the exact limit clearly. Your blood alcohol level measures how drunk you are. It is commonly called your BAC. Your BAC cannot be higher than 0.08. Beyond this point, it becomes impossible to drive safely. However, this is not the whole story. If this was the only law that governs DUIs, then it would not be illegal to drive while high.

The Second Law

The second law is in place to catch all of the non-alcohol impaired driving cases. Unfortunately, there is not an easy measure of how high someone is, like there is with alcohol and BAC. For this reason, the second DUI simply states that it is illegal to drive while impaired.

This may sound surprisingly subjective, but this is intentional. It is up to the arresting police officer to decide whether someone is impaired to the point where they cannot drive safely. In addition to covering all non-alcohol mind-altering substances, this also covers cases where someone is too drunk to drive safely while their BAC is still below 0.08. Alcohol affects different people differently, so it is possible to be too impaired with a low BAC.

So, to answer the question, “How drunk or high do you have to be to receive a DUI?” your blood alcohol content level cannot be at or above 0.08 and you cannot be too drunk or high to drive safely. These two laws together cover all cases of impaired driving and ensure that the roads are safe.

If you have been accused of a DUI, then you should immediately hire a DWI attorney in DC. The longer you wait before hiring legal representation, the worse your chances will be for winning your case. You should also put the idea of representing yourself out of your mind, as this is never a good idea.

Thanks to The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and DUI convictions.