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Driving Under The Influence

Marcel Gemme By Marcel Gemme | Last Updated: 5 June 2024

Driving under the influence is the most common definition used when describing people who are driving while using alcohol or being drunk, and people who are using drugs or under the influence of drugs.

This term applies to people who are operating a vehicle, bicycle, boat, airplane, or horse. This is typically a criminal offense in most countries, specifically while driving while intoxicated.

Along with DUIs, there is also a term or charge called DWI, which means driving while intoxicated, this as well applies to alcohol and drugs. DUI’s and DWI’s are the most common offenses used to charge people in the United States.

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When police are charging people with these offenses, they typically establish guilt by observation, and in most cases, sobriety tests are used.

In 1936, in Norway, the first law for blood-alcohol content (BAC) was established. BAC is not the only method used by law enforcement officials; they can detect signs of impairment by also field sobriety tests, which help determine guilt.

There is a common myth about drinking coffee, eating dehydrated foods, and salty foods; this does not improve the individual’s ability to overcome being impaired; these are all just illusions.

DUI Offences

Most states work with two different offenses, DUIs, DWIs, and in some cases OWIs, which means operating while intoxicated. The second and most recent offense used is, driving with a blood-alcohol content of .08% or higher.

The law enforcement officer will have to get proof of intoxication, and proof of BAC before any charges can be laid. In most, if not all the United States, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense.

There are various versions of DUIs; there are misdemeanors, which can land a person one year in jail. This charge could actually be elevated to a felony, which could lead to longer imprisonment. This will happen when the individual involved causes serious injury or death, extensive property damage, or if they have previous DUI charges against them.

There has been another law or charge used in DUI cases, and that is Administrative License Suspensions or ALS. This can apply when an individual refuses to take sobriety tests or blows over the legal limit, and their license can be confiscated on the spot.

To determine if this applies, law enforcement officers will conduct individual field sobriety tests, using portable breathalyzers, and field tests to determine their probable cause. This type of charge has been effective for young drivers; unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes were still the leading cause of death in 2002. To this day, drunk driving is still the major cause of death for people under the age of 25.

Law officials take DUIs very seriously because of the high fatality rates that they can cause. In 2006, there were 13,470 DUI traffic-related deaths in the USA. The most gruesome fact was that these deaths comprised 32% of all automobile fatalities in the USA. When people are pulled over, intoxication is determined by the blood-alcohol content; the measure of concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream.

Each state has its own legal blood-alcohol limit. Typically, it will be between .02% and .07% in all states, with .08% being considered normally over the limit. The more drugs and alcohol people use while driving, they will of course will always increase their chances of getting into an accident. In 2006, there were 1.46 million people in the USA, who were arrested for driving under the influence. This just goes to show the severity of DUIs in the USA.

Legal Consequences

There are many common legal consequences for DUIs, such as: revoking the driver’s license, jail sentences, confiscating license plates, and impounding the vehicle. All of these charges of course are determined on the exact circumstance that took place when the person is being charged and/or investigated.

It is also very common for repeat offenders to have interlock devices installed in their vehicles; these devices are designed to measure the BAC of the person when they blow into it. If they blow over the legal limit, then the individual’s vehicle will not start, which certainly prevents the person from driving, and could save lives in the process.

The minimum punishment in all states for a DUI is the loss of the individual’s license for a period of time. Some states have some very specific laws and convictions based on the blood-alcohol content of the person when this test is conducted. Every state uses field sobriety tests and chemical tests; these procedures vary from state to state.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has three brief field sobriety tests that can be used. They are the horizontal gaze, walk and turn, and the one-leg stand. Chemical tests such as urine analysis, blood analysis, and breath analysis can also be used.

In all but five states, when multiple offenders are charged, they have to have an interlock device installed in their vehicle. In over 40 different states, it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol in the vehicle while driving. Throughout the USA, there are many similarities in DUI convictions; however, there are many variations. Either way, a DUI is a criminal offense and is taken very seriously by all law officials within the United States.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.