Penalties for drunk driving continue to become tougher over the years as the cost of this dangerous behavior rises. Reckless alcohol consumption among young people has also risen markedly, and it has been met with sharp intolerance. There are often lower legal limits for minor drivers and longer driver’s license suspensions.
Drunk driving, driving while intoxicated (DWI), or driving under the influence (DUI), is typically determined by the alcohol content found in the driver’s blood. Blood alcohol content (BAC) may be determined in two ways: through breath analysis or urinalysis. All but three states have lowered the legal limit of blood alcohol content from 0.10 to 0.08 percent. Also, thirty-four states have passed laws lowering the BAC to 0.02 percent or no amount for drivers under 21. Twelve states have also set a separate limit at 0.04 percent for commercial vehicle drivers.
Penalties for drunk driving are severe in most states. Virtually every state suspends the driver’s license on a first offense, and the length of suspension increases sharply with each successive offense. There is, however, a great deal of variation in the lengths of suspension of driving privileges among the states. Several states include revocation on the third or fourth offense.
The newest development in the laws of drunk driving concern court-ordered attendance at an alcohol abuse rehabilitation program upon conviction for driving while intoxicated. Most have some sort of rehabilitation requirement for problem drinkers and drivers.