March 8, 2019

Driving to Death: The DUI Cases

Driving to Death: The DUI Cases

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 people in the United States die in vehicle crashes involving a drunk driver. This accounts for one death every 50 minutes, and the annual cost of $44 billion of alcohol-related cases every year. The cost of alcohol-related vehicle accidents doesn’t just bring mayhem to the drivers themselves, but also to the people surrounding them. Among the 1,233 death of children 0 to 14 years old, 214 of these are caused by drunk drivers. This problem accounts for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the US, taking the lives of approximately 11,000 people. In the upcoming years, we can only imagine how pervasive this problem could get.


Driving under the influence (DUI) has been used interchangeably with driving while impaired/driving while intoxicated (DWI) to refer to the crime or offense of driving or operating a transport vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, rendering the driver incapable of operating the vehicle safely. In some cases, the terms operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating under the influence of alcohol of drugs (OVI) have also been used. The distinction made by using the word “operation” encompasses more than just driving the vehicle. Charges can still be made when a person is operating under the influence, even if the vehicle is stopped and not running. For example, if an intoxicated person is found on the driver’s seat, holding the keys while parked, he or she may be charged with DUI. Some states permit enforcement of DUI or OWI based on operation and control, while others require actual driving.


Blood Alcohol Content


When a driver is under the influence of alcohol, his or her level of intoxication is typically determined by blood alcohol content measurement, call as BAC. If the specific threshold level in a BAC test is in excess, it qualifies for a criminal offense with no need to prove impairment. Consumption of alcohol with a concentration of 0.03 to 0.12% in the BAC test is characterized by a flushed, red appearance in the face, impaired judgment and fine muscle coordination. BAC is most conveniently measured as a simple percent of alcohol in the blood by weight. It may be measured by police officers through three different methods—blood, breath, or urine. Breath is the most preferred method since results are available almost instantly. On the other hand, it is best to be administered with precaution, as improper testing and equipment calibration is often used in defense of driving under the influence (DUI) or a DWI. To ensure its proper administration, police officers conduct a field sobriety testing.


Field Sobriety Testing


Prior to determining whether a suspect is impaired, police officers usually administer field sobriety tests. This ensures that a police officer has probable cause to arrest an individual for suspicion of driving under the influence. Arrest officers frequently consider the suspect’s performance of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) in establishing probable cause. This system for validating field sobriety tests that les to SFST battery of tests was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This included three roadside tests that are recommended to be administered in a standardized manner in making the arrest decision. SFST battery of tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk-and-Turn Test, and the One-Leg Stand Test.


It is in the hope that with these initiatives, the government will be able to prevent and decrease the number of alcohol-related accidents. This includes active enforcement of the BAC and Field Sobriety tests. And of course, the biggest prevention of all is to be mindful before hitting the road.


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