If you have been arrested for an alcohol-related offense, you are not alone. In 1990, 1.8 million people were arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle after consumption of an alcoholic beverage. The crime is referred to as DWI (driving while intoxicated), DUI (driving under the influence), OUI (operating under the influence) and simply drunk driving.

Additional alcohol-related offenses include:

  • allowing an intoxicated person to operate a motor vehicle;
  • possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle;
  • refusal to take a blood, breath or urine test;
  • possession of alcohol by a minor;
  • operation of a vessel in tidal waters under the influence of alcohol;
  • operation of a vehicle in non-tidal waters under the influence of alcohol; and
  • a variety of possession, use, sale, transfer and consumption violations.

Alcohol-related offenses are usually very serious. In almost every state drunk driving is serious enough to permit jury trials. Almost all alcohol-related offenses provide for potential jail sentences, loss of driving privileges and monetary penalties. It is important, therefore, that anyone charged with an alcohol-related offense consult with an attorney competent in the area of alcohol-related offenses as soon as possible.

What does “under the influence” mean?
In most states it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle or vessel while under the influence of alcohol. “Under the influence” does not mean sodden with alcohol and falling-down drunk. It means only that a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or vessel is adversely affected at the time of operation. If an individual consumes alcohol and then operates a motor vehicle or vessel before that alcohol enters his or her blood system, that individual has not violated the law.