Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence (DUI) or Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs (including those prescribed by physicians), to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. The name of the offense varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and from legal to colloquial terminology. Other terms include: drink-driving, drunk driving, drunken driving, impaired driving, operating under the influence, drinking and driving, over the prescribed limit (OPL). People who receive multiple DUIs are often struggling with alcoholism or alcohol dependence.
With alcohol, a drunk driver's level of intoxication is typically determined by a measurement of blood alcohol content or BAC. A BAC measurement in excess of a specific threshold level, such as 0.05% or 0.08%, defines the criminal offense with no need to prove impairment. In some jurisdictions, there is an aggravated category of the offense at a higher BAC level, such as 0.12%.
In most countries, anyone who is convicted of injuring or killing someone while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs can be heavily fined in addition to being given a prison sentence. DUI and alcohol-related crashes produce an estimated $45 billion in damages every year. The first person to be arrested for drunk driving was one George Smith, a London taxi driver who ran his cab into a vehicle in 1897.
The criminal offense may not involve actual driving of the vehicle, but rather may broadly include being physically in control of a car while intoxicated even if the person charged is not driving.
Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines DUI as: noun \ˌdē-(ˌ)yü-ˈī\: the crime of driving a vehicle while drunk; also : a person who is arrested for driving a vehicle while drunk; the act or crime of driving while affected by alcohol or drugs; a person who is arrested for or convicted of driving under the influence or an arrest or conviction for driving under the influence.
In some countries (such as Australia), it can also be an offence to operate other vehicles or animals while under the influence, such as riding horses or riding a skateboard while intoxicated.
Blood alcohol content
With the advent of a scientific test for blood alcohol content (BAC), enforcement regimes moved to pinning culpability for the offense to strict liability based on driving while having more than a prescribed amount of blood alcohol, although this does not preclude the simultaneous existence of the older subjective tests. BAC is most conveniently measured as a simple percent of alcohol in the blood by weight. Research shows an exponential increase of the relative risk for a crash with a linear increase of BAC as shown in the illustration. BAC does not depend on any units of measurement. In Europe it is usually expressed as milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. However, 100 milliliters of blood weighs essentially the same as 100 milliliters of water, which weighs precisely 100 grams. Thus, for all practical purposes, this is the same as the simple dimensionless BAC measured as a percent. The per mille (promille) measurement, which is equal to ten times the percentage value, is used in Denmark, Germany, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
The validity of the testing equipment/methods and mathematical relationships for the measurement of breath and blood alcohol have been criticized. Improper testing and equipment calibration is often used in defense of a DUI or DWI.
Driving while consuming alcohol may be illegal within a jurisdiction. In some it is illegal for an open container of an alcoholic beverage to be in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle or in some specific area of that compartment. There have been cases of drivers being convicted of a DUI when they were not observed driving after being proven in court they had been driving while under the influence.
In the case of an accident, insurance may be automatically declared invalid, i.e. the drunk driver is fully responsible for damages. Within the American system, citation for driving under the influence also causes a major spike in car insurance premiums.
The German model serves to reduce the number of accidents by identifying unfit drivers and removing them from until their fitness to drive has been established again. The Medical Psychological Assessment (MPA) works for a prognosis of the fitness for drive in future, has an interdisciplinary basic approach and offers the chance of individual rehabilitation to the offender.
George Smith, a London Taxi cab driver, ended up being the first person to be convicted of driving while intoxicated, on September 10, 1897. He was fined 25 shillings, which is equivalent to £127 in 2018.
Studies show that a high BAC increases the risk of accidents whereas it is not clear if a BAC of 0.01%-0.05% slightly increases or decreases the risk. One study suggests that already a BAC of 0.04-0.05% would slightly increase the risk whereas some studies suggest that a BAC of 0.01-0.04% would slightly lower the risk, possibly due to the drivers being more cautious.
Both the influential study by Borkenstein et al. and the empirical German data on the 1990s demonstrated that the risk of accident is lower or the same for drivers with a BAC of 0.04% or less than for drivers with a BAC of 0%. For a BAC of 0.15% the risk is 25-fold. The 0.08% BAC limit in Germany and the limits in many other countries were set based on the study by Borkenstein et al.
Würzburg University researchers showed that all extra accidents caused by alcohol were due to at least 0.06% BAC, 96% of them due to BAC above 0.08%, and 79% due to BAC above 0.12%. In their study based on the 1990s German data, the effect of alcohol was higher for almost all BAC levels than in Borkenstein et al.
In the Blomberg et al. study the crash statistics indicated a lowered risk for BACs 0.01% to 0.04% (87-92% of the risk of a sober driver). When adjusted for the demographic variables, already at 0.05% BAC the risk seemed to be slightly higher than for the same drivers in 0% although less than for average 0% drivers. After this adjustment, the lower risk at BAC 0.01-0.03% (92%-94%) was not significant. When also the estimated selection bias was corrected, the risk for these drivers was estimated to be 3-6% higher than for sober drivers, although the difference was not significant. In Alsop's Grand Rapids study the accident risk at BAC 0.01-0.03% was just 80-96% of that of sober drivers.
Also in the Grand Rapids study by Alsop, 0.01-0.03% BAC lead to a mere 80%-96% crash risk, possibly due to extra caution.
Traffic accidents are predominantly caused by driving under the influence for people in Europe between the age of 15 and 29, it is one of the main causes of mortality. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alcohol-related crashes cause approximately $37 billion in damages annually. Every 51 minutes someone dies from an alcohol-related crash.
When it comes to risk taking there is a larger male to female ratio as personality traits, antisociality and risk-taking are taken into consideration as they all are involved in DUI's.
To attempt to determine whether a suspect is impaired, police officers may sometimes conduct what is known as a "field sobriety test".
A police officer in the United States must have probable cause to make an arrest for driving under the influence. In establishing probable cause for a DUI arrest officers frequently consider the suspect's performance of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established a standard battery of three roadside tests that are recommended to be administered in a standardized manner in making this arrest decision. The first test typically administered is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. When this test is conducted the officer is looking for the involuntary jerking of the suspect's eyes as they gaze toward the side. The officers check for three separate clues in each eye. The clues for each eye are: lack of smooth pursuit, distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation and onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. They also then check for vertical nystagmus. Another test that may administered is the Walk and Turn (WAT) test. This test is a divided attention test and also measures balance. It requires the suspect to walk heel-to-toe on a line along with other instructions. There are eight clues that the officer is looking for when conducting this test. The officer looks for the following clues: cannot keep balance during instructions, starts the test before the instructions are finished, stops while walking to steady themself, misses heel-to-toe, steps off the line, uses arms to balance, makes an improper turn and takes the incorrect number of steps. The other standardized test is the One Leg Stand (OLS). The OLS test requires the suspect to stand on one leg for 30 seconds and also measures balance, coordination, and similar to the WAT test, divides the suspect's attention. The officer is looking for any of the four possible clues: Sways while balancing, uses arms for balance, hopping and puts their foot down.
To determine impairment in countries such as Australia, a simple breath or urine test is often taken. If police suspect that a driver is under the influence of a substance such as alcohol, then the driver will undergo a breath test. If over the legal limit of 0.05g per 100 milliltres of blood, then a second breath test will be taken and used as evidence against the driver when charged with the offence. If a person is suspected to be under the influence of an illegal drug, they will be required to supply a urine sample. If the urine sample is positive, then the urine is sent for more testing to determine the exact drug taken (confirmation of being illegal or prescribed). A similar process to being over the legal BAC level is undertaken using the evidence to penalise the user.
DUI lawyers are criminal law attorneys that assist people who are arrested for driving under the influence charges, in understanding DUI laws and making informed decisions about a DUI case. Since DUI laws are constantly changing, a criminal defense lawyer who practices DUI law also helps to protect the legal rights of an individual facing a DUI offense, often by challenging the legality of certain technical aspects regarding specific DUI laws.
Law by country
Many employers or occupations have their own rules and BAC limits; for example, the United States Federal Railroad Administration has a 0.04% limit for train crew. Certain large corporations have their own rules; for example, Union Pacific Railroad has their own BAC limit of 0.02% that, if violated during a random test or a for-cause test—for example, after a traffic accident—can result in termination of employment with no chance of future re-hire. Some jurisdictions have multiple levels of BAC for different categories of drivers; for example, the state of California has a general 0.08% BAC limit, a lower limit of 0.04% for commercial operators, and a limit of 0.01% for drivers who are under 21 or on probation for previous DUI offenses.
Many states in the U.S. and the Federal government of Canada have adopted truth in sentencing laws that enforce strict guidelines on sentencing, differing from previous practice where prison time was reduced or suspended after sentencing had been issued. Some jurisdictions have judicial guidelines requiring a mandatory minimum sentence. DUI convictions can result in multi-year jail terms and other penalties ranging from expensive fees to forfeiture of one's license plates and vehicle. A judge can also order the installation of an ignition interlock device. Some jurisdictions require that drivers convicted of DUI offenses use special license plates that are easily distinguishable from regular plates. These plates are known in popular parlance as "party plates" or "whiskey plates".
The specific criminal offense may be called, depending on the jurisdiction, driving under the influence [of alcohol or other drugs] (DUI), driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), driving while intoxicated (DWI), "operating vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs" (OVI), operating under the influence (OUI) operating while intoxicated (OWI), operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OMVI), driving under the combined influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, driving under the influence per se or drunk in charge [of a vehicle]. Many such laws apply also to motorcycling, boating, piloting aircraft, use of mobile farm equipment such as tractors and combines, riding horses or driving a horse-drawn vehicle, or bicycling, possibly with different BAC level than driving. In some jurisdictions there are separate charges depending on the vehicle used, such as BWI (bicycling while intoxicated), which may carry a lighter sentence.
In the United States, local law enforcement agencies made 1,467,300 arrests nationwide for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1996, compared to 1.9 million such arrests during the peak year in 1983. In 1997 an estimated 513,200 DWI offenders were in prison or jail, down from 593,000 in 1990 and up from 270,100 in 1986. In the United States, DUI and alcohol-related crashes produce an estimated $45 billion in damages every year. In some U.S. and German studies BAC level 0.01-0.03% predicted a lower crash risk than BAC 0%, possibly due to extra caution, whereas BACs 0.08% or higher seem to be responsible for almost all extra accidents caused by alcohol. For a BAC of 0.15% the risk is 25-fold.
To this day most states of the United States of America maintain an "Implied Consent" law which stipulates that the refusal to take a blood alcohol test will result in a punishment identical to those that have been found guilty of drunk driving.[verification needed]
Drunk in charge
In British law it is a criminal offence to be drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. The definition depends on such things as being in or near the vehicle, and having access to a means of starting the vehicle's engine and driving it away.
People using prescription drugs such as opioids and benzodiazepines often experience side effects such as excessive drowsiness and nausea. Other prescription drugs including antiepilectics and antidepressants are now also believed to have the same effect. In the last ten years, there has been an increase in motor vehicle accidents, and it is believed that the use of prescription drugs causing impairment, has been a major factor. Workers are expected to notify their employer when prescribed such drugs to minimise the risk of motor vehicle accidents while at work.
If a worker who drives has a health condition which can be treated with opioids, then that person's doctor should be told that driving is a part of the worker's duties and the employer should be told that the worker could be treated with opioids. Workers should not use impairing substances while driving or operating heavy machinery like forklift trucks or cranes. If the worker is to drive, then the health care provider should not give them opioids. If the worker is to take opioids, then their employer should assign them work which is appropriate for their impaired state and not encourage them to use safety sensitive equipment.
- DR10, UK police code
- Drug–impaired driving
- Drunk drivers
- Drunk walking
- DWI court
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
- National Motorists Association
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