Getting arrested for a DUI or DWI can significantly impact your driving rights and your employment options. Therefore, if you’re arrested for drinking and driving or using drugs while driving, you need to know the laws of the state where you were arrested. In addition, it’s important to be able to find and understand the DUI-related national and local resources, including diversion options, alcohol treatment programs, or lawyers who can defend you. FindLaw’s DUI Laws & Resources section has the in-depth legal information and referrals you need for drinking and driving charges.
This section provides information on “per se” DUI laws, underage drunk driving, comparing state DUI laws, as well as tools on how to hire a DWI/OWI lawyer. If you need to know about DUI or DWI laws, you’ve come to the right place.
It doesn’t take a legal expert to understand that drinking and driving is illegal in all 50 states. The reasons are obvious: drunk driving kills and disables many people every year. However, even if you didn’t harm anyone, you can still be arrested and potentially found guilty of a DUI. If someone was harmed, not only can the driver be held responsible, the bar or liquor store that served the driver could be liable under “dram shop” laws. An article in this section explains these dram shop laws.
The terminology for DUIs varies by state. In some states it's called Driving Under the Influence (DUI), in others it's Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), and in still others it's Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI). The terminology isn’t the only variable: the blood-alcohol level that is considered “per se” intoxicated and the penalties for DUI-related crimes vary among states. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you’ll want to know the laws where you were arrested. This section provides links to the DWI laws in every state and the District of Columbia.
Using a DUI Attorney
Many people who are arrested for a DWI or OWI-related crime haven’t been involved in the criminal justice system before. They may be unsure about hiring a lawyer. Criminal defense lawyers are professionals who must follow the ethical duties of their trade. However, clients must work with their lawyer to explain what happened, provide documentation, and attend trial or make the decision to plea. A lawyer can’t make these decisions for you, but a good lawyer will thoroughly explain your options so you can make a well-informed decision.
The articles in the Using a DUI Attorney section will prepare you for how to hire a DUI lawyer, what to expect from your lawyer, and provides resources, including the lawyer directory, for finding an experienced DUI attorney in your area. You have a legal right to representation in criminal court. If you can’t afford an attorney, the court will appoint you a public defender. This section provides more on how to request an attorney from the court for low-income defendants.