Understanding the Elements of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

In many jurisdictions across the United States and Canada, DUI/DWI penalties are severe. However, the exact criminal offense can also be known, more precisely, as “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol.” Depending on the jurisdiction, the specific criminal offense can also be known as, for example: “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Or Alcohol,” “DWI while driving,” or “GHB/LSD while driving.”

Despite the different names and various possible meanings for the criminal offense, it is usually treated as a violent crime with unpleasant outcomes. Oregon DUII Diversion law’s ultimate objective is to criminalize motorists and drivers of motor vehicles who operate vehicles while under the effect of any controlled substance, whether that substance is alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, etc. The penalties associated with this criminal offense are quite harsh. For instance, in most jurisdictions in the US, driving drunk constitutes a serious criminal offense with significant penalties. The penalties include fines, incarceration, drug/alcohol rehabilitation, other remedial programs, etc. (see Drug Laws & Punishment.)

Penalties for DUI/DWI increase if a driver is convicted of more than one DUI or DWI charge during the same incident. For example, a DUI conviction on a single occasion can lead to a mandatory suspension of a driver’s license and substantial fines. Similarly, a repeat offender of DUI will be required to undergo an ignition interlock device (TIM) installation and have their drivers’ license suspended for up to one year. If a repeat offender is a repeat drunk driver, that individual will have their driving privileges revoked permanently. Some states further impose intensive DUI and DWI penalties for repeat offenders found to be driving while intoxicated using certain drugs such as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and heroin. These laws vary significantly from state to state.

Drugging a person is also considered a criminal offense under DUI/DWI laws. This type of crime occurs when a driver deliberately or at least unconsciously reduces their alcohol levels by taking or ordering drinks. The person then intends to have an impaired driving effect, which is typically accompanied by disorientation, loss of balance, confusion, and sometimes, hallucinations. Consuming a controlled substance with the intent to have a reduced alcohol level is considered a crime under this law section. The penalty for this criminal offense can include incarceration, fines, drug rehabilitation, and other penalties.

Drugs that can affect operating a vehicle include depressants, tranquilizers, amphetamines, and barbiturates. Druggists use a combination of these drugs and alcohol to improve the depressant or tranquilizer effects, allowing them to reduce and mask the drugs’ impairing effects. Barbiturates are commonly referred to as ‘date rape drugs. As the name suggests, they are highly volatile and dangerous. They are commonly sold in liquids, liqueurs, spray cans, or candy bars, and they can cause severe and irreparable brain damage or death.

Driving under the influence of intoxicants also includes situations where the suspect cannot operate a vehicle because of their drug or alcohol impairment. This can include cases where individuals are suffering from a debilitating illness and are unable to drive safely. Many of these individuals do not appear to be under the influence while passing legal requirements for operating a vehicle but are actually under the impression that they are.

When the police determine that a suspect is indeed under the effect of drugs or alcohol, they will ask for a blood alcohol content test. The test is completed by submitting the subject to two standardized field sobriety tests. These tests are known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and the walk-and-turn test. If these tests’ results are positive, then the individual is advised to take a roadside sobriety test known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. If the results of these tests are negative, then the individual is free to drive home.

Although not every person convicted of DUI is found guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicants, nearly all people who are convicted of this offense do so because they are driving while intoxicated. The vast majority of drunk driving incidents occur in a car, so you must contact a lawyer right away to learn more about your rights and the penalties you could be facing if you have been charged with this crime. A lawyer can advise you on what options are available to you, including possible plea bargains. If you have been convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants, you should immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney.