Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Is Driving Under the Influence?

Many people believe that they have to be drunk or high in order to be charged and found guilty of DUI in Illinois. They are wrong. Today I will cover drinking and driving, but look for an upcoming blog on drugs and driving.

In Illinois, you can be found guilty if you do not blow, or even if your breathalyzer results are below 0.08 BAC. While the legal limit in Illinois is under 0.08, you are not deemed "sober" (for purposes of the law) unless you blow under 0.05. Even in those instances where you blow under 0.05, you may still be arrested and need to hire an attorney. The range between 0.05 and 0.08 is where you may be found guilty of driving under the influence.

BAC levels in this gray area, or in cases where a blow was not given, may cause other signs to be considered in order to determine whether you are "under the influence". Those signs include:

* there was an accident that was your fault
* driving erratically, e.g. weaving in and out of your lane
* driving the wrong way on a one way street
* slurred speech
* bloodshot eyes
* disheveled clothes
* stumbling or swaying

In addition to the non-exhaustive list of signs above, there are also standardized Field Sobriety Tests (FST). The FSTs include the one-leg stand, walk and turn, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). There are also non-standardized tests such as the finger-to-nose test, alphabet test, or coin test. As you can imagine, there probably would not be an arrest unless the officer thought you failed the test.

What is driving under the influence of alcohol? It all depends.

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