In common-law jurisdictions where driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol is illegal (presumably all of them?), is drunk driving considered malum prohibitum or malum in se?

I am aware that the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se is largely academic today, but my understanding is that the distinction does technically still exist.

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1 Answer 1


Drunk driving considered malum prohibitum. The place that the line is drawn for the offense is arbitrary and it doesn't inherently harm another person.

In contrast, the closely related driving offense of reckless driving is a close call.

And, obviously, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, which can qualify as such due to drunk driving, is malum in se.

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