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What is driving under the influence?

Driving under the influence is a term every driver has heard. It has been brought to your attention in one form or another. When you got your license, you learned about blood alcohol content levels. In the movies you see awkward field sobriety tests performed on roadsides. You know what a Breathalyzer test is, even if you’ve never used the machine. The lesson is to avoid drinking and driving.

The legal term driving under the influence is a little more complex. What exactly does it mean to drive under the influence? What constitutes influence under the law? These are questions that are a little tricky. The answers to them may surprise you.

Here are a few facts about driving under the influence that you might not know:

  • Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): Does your BAC have to be above .08 percent to get arrested for a DUI? No. The legal limit for driving under the influence is 0.08 percent nationwide. For those driving a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is 0.04 percent. Law enforcement officers can also arrest you for a DUI if they believe that alcohol or other substances have impaired your driving. If you fail field sobriety tests while under the legal BAC, police can arrest you.
  • Driving: You have to be driving to get a DUI, right? Surprisingly, the answer is no. In Georgia it is possible to be arrested for a DUI even while parked. If you have the ability to make the car move, you can be charged.
  • Under 21: If you are under 21 do the same rules apply? No. There is a zero tolerance policy for people under 21. If your BAC is 0.02 percent or higher, you can be charged.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: If you pass a field sobriety test are you in the clear? No, you are not. A field sobriety test is just one aspect law enforcement considers. Blood alcohol content and other signs of impaired driving also factor into a police officer’s decision to arrest you.
  • Consent: Is there a penalty if you decline to take a breath or blood test? Yes.. Georgia has an implied consent law. This means that if you drive in the state of Georgia, police don’t need your consent to take a breath test. Your consent is implied. You have the right to say no to a test, but this law gives the Georgia Department of Vehicle Services the authority to suspend your license.

Driving under the influence is not as cut and dry as it seems, and many people end up facing DUI charges they never thought they would.

Ultimately, it is best to use caution when drinking. You can avoid charges and protect yourself and others from harm. Consider safety first when drinking, like planning ahead for a designated driver.

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