DUI & DWI LAW SUMMARY
Driving under the influence (DUI), or Driving while intoxicated (DWI), is the crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcoholor other drugs (including recreational drugs and those prescribed by physicians), to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. People who receive multiple DUI offenses are often people struggling with alcoholism or alcohol dependence.
Traffic accidents are predominantly caused by driving under the influence; for people in Europe between the age of 15 and 29, DUI is one of the main causes of mortality. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alcohol-related crashes cause approximately $37 billion in damages annually. DUI and alcohol-related crashes produce an estimated $45 billion in damages every year.
With alcohol, a drunk driver's level of intoxication is typically determined by a measurement of blood alcohol content or BAC; but this can also be expressed as a breath test measurement, often referred to as a BrAC. A BAC or BrAC measurement in excess of the specific threshold level, such as 0.08%, defines the criminal offense with no need to prove impairment. In some jurisdictions, there is an aggravated category of the offense at a higher BAC level, such as 0.12%, 0.15% or 0.20%. In many jurisdictions, police officers can conduct field tests of suspects to look for signs of intoxication. The US state of Colorado has a maximum blood content of THC for drivers who have consumed cannabis.
In most countries, sobriety checkpoints, driver's licence suspensions, fines and prison sentences for DUI offenders are used as a deterrent. Anyone who is convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs can be heavily fined and/or given a prison sentence. In some jurisdictions, impaired drivers who injure or kill another person while driving may face heavier penalties. In addition, many countries have prevention campaigns that use advertising to make people aware of the danger of driving while impaired and the potential fines and criminal charges, discourage impaired driving, and encourage drivers to take taxis or public transport home after using alcohol or drugs. In some jurisdictions, the bar that served an impaired driver may face civil liability. In some countries, non-profit advocacy organizations, a well-known example being Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) run their own publicity campaigns against drunk driving.
DUI lawyers are criminal law attorneys who specialize in DUI law. They can be hired to defend or otherwise assist people who are arrested for driving under the influence charges, in understanding DUI laws and making informed decisions about how to plead in a DUI case. Since DUI laws are constantly changing, a criminal defense lawyer who practices DUI law also helps to protect the legal rights of an individual facing a DUI charge. DUI lawyers may contest the legality of the charge or challenge technical aspects of the field testing or BAC testing procedure.
The abbreviation "DWI" stands for Driving While Intoxicated, closely related to the "DUI" abbreviation, standing for Driving Under the Influence. Driving While Intoxicated court cases are extremely serious violations and are thus handled in a strict manner. A controversy that comes along with trying "DWI" court cases is whether or not the court will rule the incident as a crime of violence. If a court rules the incident as a crime of violence, it then becomes classified as an "aggravated" felony. If an offender has been sentenced with an aggravated felony, they are now subjected to immigration and possible deportation, depending upon their citizenship. It is clear that "DWI" court cases have the extremely important responsibility of classifying whether a case is a "crime of violence", in order to determine the severity of the offenders sentence.
The reason DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is handled in the harshest manner possible is because driving is ones own responsibility. As noted by Gary Schuman in Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, "Drunk driving inherently involves substantial risk of harm and death is a readily foreseeable consequence of such conduct". One who gets behind the wheel has already gone through the required processes in order to receive a valid drivers license, and therefore is held responsible for all of their actions on the road. Alcohol-impaired driving facilities, such as National Highway Traffic Administration have stated that DWI court cases (driving while intoxicated cases) have "accounted for 32 percent of motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States during 2006". 
When seeking a deeper understanding of DWI Courts, one must also be educated on the subject of DWI checkpoints. It is important to understand the politics behind DWI courts and how the number of DWI arrests impact DWI checkpoints. As told by Robert C. Davis in the Center on Quality Policing Journal, "the output DWI (driving while intoxicated) arrests as a performance measure is likely to increase the number of DWI checkpoints". Therefore, it is evident that there is a positive correlation between the amount of DWI arrests and the amount of DWI checkpoints required.
DWI courts (sometimes called DUI courts) use substance-abuse interventions and treatment with defendants who plead guilty of driving while intoxicated or impaired. There were about 90 DWI courts, and 86 drug courts that also took DWI offenders, in the United States in 2004.
Most repeat offenders of DWI are alcoholic and are involved in the majority of alcohol-related traffic fatalities according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, although this is usually deemed as a false statement of fact. The emphasis of DWI courts is on reducing drunk-driving by treating alcoholism, and for offenders to take responsibility for their actions. Those who want DWI court treatment are required to abstain from drinking alcohol. Participants may also be subject to various requirements such as:
- Random visits from law enforcement officers
- Attending treatment and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings
- Community service
- Frequent urine analysis or blood alcohol tests
- Transdermal alcohol detection devices such as SCRAM bracelets
DWI courts may be effective. In one of the first started in 1997, the recidivism rate fell from about 45% to 13.5%. A court in Los Angeles resulted in lower costs through lower incarceration and fewer repeat offences. The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Jeffrey Runge, has promoted DWI courts to reduce impaired and drunk driving.