Getting pulled over is not something you wanted to have happen, and now you’re facing a DUI. What is a DUI, though, and how do police determine if you’re driving while intoxicated?
What is driving while impaired?
Driving while impaired is an interesting umbrella term. It covers being intoxicated by alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs and any other intoxicating substance. To be identified as being impaired, it must be shown that you had enough drugs or alcohol in your system to make it difficult for you to drive safely or think clearly. Impairment itself doesn’t mean you’re drunk or high; it sometimes happens well before that point.
How can police determine if you are impaired when driving?
By law, you’re driving under the influence of alcohol illegally when your blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08 percent. Drugs are a little more difficult to gauge, but police may use several methods to determine if you’re impaired.
Field sobriety tests help police identify those who are high or drunk, but those with medical conditions could fail them under the right circumstances. For instance, someone who is drunk may have poor balance, but so can someone with labyrinthitis, an infection that affects your balance.
Another possibility is using a blood, urine or breath test to determine your level of intoxication. Breath tests may be used for alcohol, but they’re not as appropriate for drug use. Instead, if you’re accused of using drugs, you may have blood or urine samples requested, so the hospital labs or police labs can determine if you’re intoxicated. Our website has more about what to expect in a DUI case.