Certain crimes may look the same on the books, but they can have a much larger impact on your life. No law shows this example more than getting charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. In many states, a first-time DUI is only a misdemeanor, but that charge comes with plenty of social stigmas, guilt, and harsh penalties to boot. If you’re new to driving or are hearing about DUI, you’re likely curious about what it is.

The more informed people are, the less likely DUIs are to happen, so let’s help you out. Let’s review what DUIs are and how to be certain they never happen to you.

What Exactly is a DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence. The charge is given out when someone is found to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated from drugs or alcohol. In certain states, a DUI may be known as driving while intoxicated (DWI) charged.

DUI charges are most often associated with alcohol intoxication, though you can receive a DUI if you are found operating a vehicle under the influence of other drugs as well. Every state has established blood alcohol content (BAC) thresholds for DUI charges, for most states there is a limit of .08 though it could be lower, for example, you can receive a DUI in Utah for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .05 or higher.

You don’t have to be at or over a state’s DUI threshold for a DUI charge if you are found to be too impaired to operate a vehicle you can be accused of a DUI or DWAI (driving with impaired ability.)

Avoiding DUIs

The simplest way to avoid DUIs is to never get behind the wheel of you have consumed alcohol. We understand that most people like to have a few drinks while they’re out, and that’s fine. Before you consume alcohol, you should always have a plan to get home regardless of how much you plan to drink. These could include hitching a ride with a friend, utilizing ride shares or taxis, or using public transportation. There are also smartphone apps available including pocket breathalyzers that can tell you when you’ve had too much to drive.

DUIs are a harsh penalty to receive but driving under the influences of drugs or alcohol is a terrible mistake. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve had too many and always have a plan to get home if you plan on drinking.

Have questions about DUI and the laws surrounding it? Contact Anderson & Carnahan, these DUI lawyers in Colorado Springs can answer any questions you have.

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Melissa Popp is Director of Digital Engagement for Altitude SEO, a boutique agency helping small businesses win with content online. As a digital strategist with a passion for technology and travel, she coaches her partners to connect with their audience through experience optimization, with the goal of retaining more loyal visitors, creating brand ambassadors, and increasing conversion goals. She can be found online writing for About Travel, TechNorms, and The Emmys. Past clients include Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Samsung.