Drunk Driving and Being under the Influence -- a Discussion

Many drunk driving crimes are based on drivers' suspected intoxication or law enforcement officials' suspicions that drivers are under the influence of alcohol. However, "under the influence" is a relatively vague term. Wisconsin drivers may wonder how inclusive or specific this important concept in drunk driving defense really is when they are facing their own charges of drunk driving or DUI.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation provides an explanation of what under the influence means. According to Wisconsin DOT, a driver is under the influence of alcohol when alcohol impairs the person's driving skills. If a driver is impaired it means that the person cannot safely drive or operate the vehicle under the person's control. Being impaired and under the influence of alcohol is not directly tied to a driver's blood alcohol concentration. This means that even if a driver's BAC is below the .08 percent state threshold level the driver may still be arrested on a drunk driving charge.

As readers of this DUI defense law blog may know, there are many factors that can influence how a driver operates the person's vehicle. A driver's medical health, varying driving conditions and many other issues can influence how a driver operates the person's car. At the time of a drunk driving arrest, a law enforcement official may erroneously suspect a driver of being under the influence when there is a legitimate explanation for the driver's situation.

As discussed in this post, suspicions of a driver being under the influence of alcohol do not actually have to be tied to actual alcohol consumption. Drunk driving charges are factually driven and during their trials individuals charged with drunk driving can offer their own facts in defense of the claims lodged against them. In some cases, innocent drivers may avoid the potential consequences of drunk driving convictions when they successfully explain why their charges are not sound.