When I talk to people about PA’s “drunk driving” statute, and especially when I field calls in my office, I frequently hear the statute referred to by different names. Some will call it DWI, which stands for “driving while intoxicated”. I would suspect that this is so because the law of drunk driving is actually called DWI in many states that are in close proximity to Pennsylvania, especially New Jersey. While it is a common and excusable mistake, it is the incorrect nomenclature for the PA law.
There are vastly more people that call it “DUI” ( Driving Under The Influence) and in fact that WAS the name of the law in Pennsylvania for many years. People remember it and keep referring to it that way and, truth be told, police officers, prosecutors, and even most lawyers still call it that too. I do it too. I very often find myself referring as, among other things, as a Montgomery County PA DUI Lawyer. Old habits die hard and it appears that people just can’t shake this particular one.
The PA statute is actually, officially, entitled “DAI” (Driving After Imbibing). This occurred when the law was changed in 2003. The law, and its subsequent name change, was designed to reflect the new group of drivers it was designed to ensnare: those that were not only under the influence but also those that drove after they drank, drunk or otherwise. Thus the lowering of the blood alcohol level for prosecution in that same year to .08% from .10%. I guess it was the legislatures cryptic way of saying to us that, while .08% may not be “under the influence” it is certainly too much to drink to be operating a motor vehicle….so a group of men in Harrisburg decided. In any event, it is true that the “DAI” label has not passed its way into our collective vernacular, and judging by how little it is used I don’t see the PA drunk driving law being referred to properly anytime soon.