DUI is an acronym for Driving Under the Influence. Also referred to as DWI (driving while intoxicated), drunk driving, operating under the influence, impaired driving and many other names, DUI refers to the crime of operating a motor vehicle or certain kinds of machinery while impacted by alcohol or other compromising substances.
The crime is often associated with alcohol, and most jurisdictions enforce a maximum BAC (blood alcohol content) with which an individual can legally operate a motor vehicle. Anything above this BAC constitutes criminal DUI.
BAC can be measured in a number of ways. A blood test or breathalyzer test is commonly conducted, which measure the percent of alcohol in the blood stream by the individual’s weight. These tests require special equipment, and which test is performed is dependent on the resources of the law enforcement division that performs the arrest.
In the past and in cases where these tests cannot be administered, law enforcement officials have had to rely on less empirical tests to determine whether a DUI charge can be levied. A subjective battery of tests known as Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) have been approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests can include walking in a straight line or balancing on one leg for thirty seconds, during which the law enforcement officer will observe the suspect and look for any signs of unreasonable intoxication. The results of these tests, coupled with the officer’s observations of suspicious driving before pulling the suspect over, used to be enough to secure a conviction of DUI.
DUI or similar charges can also apply in a situation involving any potentially impairing substance, including marijuana, prescription drugs or even some over-the-counter cough syrups. Testing for these substances differs, and laws governing their treatment vary between jurisdictions. However, any DUI related conviction can result in hefty fines, driver’s license suspension and, in the most serious cases, jail time.
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