It is illegal for any persons 21 years or older to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% in all states except for Utah. In 2018, Utah changed the limit to reflect a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05% and above as the illegal percentage for persons 21 years or older operating a vehicle. Driving after drinking too much alcohol can fall under several legal names including driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), impaired driving, or operating under the influence (OUI).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 30 people die every day in car accidents related to alcohol intoxication—which is about one person every 51 minutes. In 2018, the NHTSA reported that 10,511 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. Driving under the influence is not only illegal but the more you do so, the more likely you are to injure yourself or others.

The consequences for being pulled over for a DUI vary based on state, age, and blood alcohol content. If a person’s BAC is over the legal limit, they are at risk for having their driver’s license taken away. This is often a red flag, showing someone that they have an issue with problem drinking, including heavy drinking, binge drinking, or even alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Although each state has a different approach to reinstating a driver’s license after a DUI or multiple DUI charges, the following steps may help get your license back.

Steps to Get Your License Back

 To get your license back you may need to:

  1. Attend the DUI hearing and present your case.
  2. Pay required fees, including court, reinstatement, and bail fees.
  3. Complete the full period of license suspension (length of time varies).
  4. Complete court requirements, which will likely include DUI traffic school.
  5. With a DUI on your record, you’ll need to inform your provider of your DUI and get form SR-22 which proves you have this new insurance.
  6. When you have completed each of the above steps, you can go to your local DMV office and apply for reinstatement.

Typically, in the case of the first DUI, the arresting officer will take the person’s original license and replace it with a temporary one.  Refusal to give blood or urine samples, or take a breathalyzer at the scene of the arrest, will lead to automatic suspension, although this can vary if the state allows refusal of these samples. The temporary license will expire on the court date for your DUI case.

Failure to request a hearing typically leads to permanent suspension of one’s driver’s license; attending the hearing and pleading one’s case may successfully reinstate the license. Suspension may last anywhere from three months to one year, depending on how intoxicated the driver was, whether they had previous DUIs, and if there was a serious car accident.

Required alcohol treatment programs can vary widely, by state and seriousness of intoxication at arrest. The person may be required to attend a few hours of alcohol safety education, or they may be forced to find an alcohol detox and rehabilitation program. Although this may seem strict, it may be the push people with multiple DUIs need to find appropriate treatment for alcohol use disorder or abuse.

For state-specific laws on reinstating a driver’s license after a DUI, visit USA.gov for further information.

Free and low-cost alcoholism treatment is available.

Getting Help

If you suspect that you or someone you care about is struggling with an alcohol addiction, it may be time to seek professional help. Depending on the type of program and your insurance coverage, the cost of a treatment program for alcoholism can vary widely. Find out if your insurance covers rehab at an American Addictions Center facility by filling out the form below or by calling an admissions navigator to discuss your treatment options. AAC is a leading provider of addiction treatment services across the U.S. and a subsidiary of Alcohol.org.

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