Also referred to as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in some states of America, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a criminal offense concerning an individual found driving under the influence of alcohol or any similar substance (such as drugs – prescribed or non-prescribed/illegal). Such substances can impair driver judgement, concentration, alertness and motor vehicle skills, thereby resulting in minor to major road catastrophes.

Commonly called drunk driving, DUI is not when an intoxicated individual drives a car on his personal property. Things get legal when the car moves to public spaces such as roads. In some cases, being seated in the driver’s seat intoxicated, on a road, even in a non-moving vehicle, is a DUI offense.

Prescribed and Illegal Drugs

Illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, morphine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, etc. can have impairing effects on a driver. The prescribed drugs capable of wrecking driver concentration and alertness include antidepressants, valium, antihistamines, decongestants, sleeping pills, hydrocodone and medical marijuana.  

The Legal Limit

The DUI case is confirmed (in the States) if the accused’s blood test shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) degree to be 0.08 percent or higher, even if the liquor has had no apparent effect on the driver. In some cities or regions, the BAC level could be as low as 0.02 percent.

At the point of 0.08 BAC, drivers increase their chances of a road accident by 11 times compared to non-drunk drivers. A 120-pound woman can cross this measure with just a couple of drinks. Apparently, the numbers could vary with individuals, and in some cases, even one drink could be sufficient to breach the legal ceiling. The BAC limit may vary outside America, and some countries may book a driver if they suspect even the slightest of intoxication.

Drug Recognition Experts (DREs)

Some countries may station special police officers, known as “Drug Recognition Experts” (DREs), on their roads who adhere to particular guidelines for ascertaining DUI cases. These officers generally examine the motorist’s behavior, eye movements and other signs that indicate a possible drug influence.

DUI Consequences

If the police officer suspects a DUI, he may ask the driver to blow through the breathalyzer. If the driver is found drunk and a potential hazard to other motorists, the likely consequences could be a hefty fine/jail and a suspension or revocation of the driving license. If the driver is found under the influence of other drugs, he’ll be subjected to blood and urine tests to confirm the condition. An imprisonment is more likely if a drunk driver was involved in a major or fatal road accident. In any case, the exact fine amount or jail period would vary across regions and depend on the case in hand.       

In several cases, a DUI conviction may also result in loss of employment, being barred from working in specific industries or jobs, major financial setbacks, higher motor insurance rates or policy cancellation, and family and personal embarrassment. Some states in America subject the guilty to alcohol prevention and teaching programs, alcohol abuse treatment, assessment of the individual’s possible drug or alcohol addiction, and victim restitution or community service. Such lenient punishments are usually reserved for first-time offenders.