The acronym DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. If someone operates or has control of a motor vehicle, and is under the influence of alcohol, they can be considered to be guilty of DUI. This is an extremely dangerous situation for the driver, as well as for others on the road.
In the state of California, it is illegal to drive under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Further, ‘driving’ here includes piloting a boat or an aircraft. In fact, there are very stringent laws that constrain pilots, as the safety of hundreds of people is at risk every time a flight takes off.
Being under the influence makes you unable to safely drive your vehicle. At as low a blood alcohol content (BAC) as 0.02%, you already have impairment in your ability to do two things at the same time (like steer and brake). When we increase the BAC to 0.08%, a driver will be unable to safely manage their vehicle and will pose a major danger if they attempt to drive.
This is why 0.08% is a key number when it comes to DUI. Anyone caught with a BAC of 0.08% or more while driving in California will be charged with a DUI. This has been the law since 1990.
California is not the only state to have this designation. In fact, many other states have followed suit, and have trained law enforcement personnel to identify when someone is intoxicated.
Law enforcement personnel use a variety of tools to accomplish this, including field sobriety tests (FST). In an FST, an officer will assess someone’s movement and reflexes in order to gauge impairment. It cannot identify the legal limit for DUI however. This requires knowledge of the BAC.
To accurately test BAC, you need to conduct a chemical test. The most accurate way is via blood or urine sample, although measuring alcohol in the breath will also work. The breath measurement tool is the most widely known, and is called the Breathalyzer.
When you consider DUI fatalities over time, you can see a statistically significant decrease since the 0.08% BAC law has been used.
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