Learn More About DWIs

DUI: Know the Facts

Jun 5, 2017

Driving Under the Influence Definitions

DUI: Driving Under the Influence

DWI: Driving While Intoxicated

OUI: Operating Under the Influence

These terms may vary depending on the state in which they are received. Some states may refer to drunken or impaired driving as a DWI, while others may consider it to be a DUI. While some states, such as Michigan give this charge a completely different name, and refer to impairment behind the wheel as an OUI, or operating under the influence. The tricky part is when one state uses DWI to refer to alcohol, while another uses DUI to reference the impairment of driving due to substance. Here is everything you need to know about what exactly constitutes a DUI, so that the next time you may be facing this kind of charge, you’ll be prepared.

In a typical DUI, the crime one may be charged with is accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent that it impairs mental or physical functions. In most states, receiving a DUI must include two separate elements:

Operation: In order to be charged with a DUI, one must be physically operating a motor vehicle, however in certain situations even sleeping or sitting behind the wheel may suffice. A motor vehicle typically refers to a car, although it can include a golf cart, a motorcycle, a truck, a bicycle, a tractor, or even a horse!

Under the Influence: To receive a DUI, one must be legally impaired. This means that a person is under the impairment of an intoxicating beverage OR drug. In all states, the BAC, or blood alcohol content is .08 for everyone above the age of 21 and 0.0 for those below the age of 21. A breathalyzer is an instrument that can measure whether or not a person is within the legal limit to be operating a vehicle. If one is over the legal limit of .08, a DUI can be issued.


Influence of Drugs:

Driving under the influence of drugs, whether it is prescribed pain medicine, or illegal substances, such as cocaine or heroin, can result in a DUI charge in the same manner that alcohol can. You can be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs if 1.) the substances in your system are illegal or belong to someone else and 2.) If there is a specific warning against operating a vehicle while taking drugs in which you are prescribed. Doctor’s orders are no legal defense to driving under the influence of drugs that can affect one’s motor abilities–that’s why there are warning messages on the bottles! These drugs are not only illegal to drive after ingesting, they can have severe effects on your driving abilities:

Marijuana: May create an overall feeling of relaxation, disorientation, altered time and space perception, paranoia and drowsiness. This drug may cause drivers to drive at slower speeds due to lack of general awareness it creates.

Cocaine: Causes euphoria, excitation, aggressiveness, paranoia, and increased heart rate. Symptoms such as these may cause a driver to drive at faster speeds and disregard things such as stop signs and stop lights.

Methamphetamine: May cause feelings of euphoria, excitation, insomnia, delusions, in addition to hallucinations and “skin crawling.” Such effects may cause a driver to lose control of the wheel or imagine certain things on the road that are or are not actually present.

Morphine/Heroin: May elicit feelings of relaxation and sedation, euphoria, mental clouding, nausea, and vomiting. The nature of this drug could cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle due to intense muscle relaxation.    

LSD: Potential to create intense hallucinations and altered perceptions of reality, delusions, impaired time, space, and depth perceptions. Driving under the influence of this drug is extremely dangerous, as it could easily cause a driver to crash simply because they are hallucinating objects or people that are not there.

Valium: A mere 10 mg of this popular tranquilizer could quite possibly cause impairment similar to having a BAC of .10. The effects of this benzodiazepine can create drowsiness, severely impairing the manner in which a person may operate a moving vehicle.

Sleeping Pills (Ambien): Operating a vehicle even the morning after taking an Ambien can have severe effects on driving, such as drowsiness and disorientation, which can cause a driver to fall asleep at the wheel, creating unwarranted car accidents.

Hydrocodone/Oxycodone: This common pain reliever, whose main component is Vicodin, has similar effects to that of opiates and may cause drowsiness and muscle relaxation. Ingesting this drug before operating a vehicle may cause slower speeds and sleepiness, risking the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel and endangering other drivers on the road.