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Drunk driving and the law

Updated on December 25, 2017

What is Drunk Driving?

Driving under the influence (DUI)of alcohol is commonly referred to as “drunk driving." It means operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, while one's blood alcohol content is above the legal limit set by statute. These statutes vary from country to country and in the United States from state to state, but generally the accepted ranges are from .08 to .10. Almost all countries all over the world make driving a car or any vehicle above the permissible limit an offence.

Checking Alcohol Content

Driving a vehicle above the permissible limit is an offence and obviously there has to be a mechanism to check the level of alcohol in the blood. The simplest method of checking the alcohol content is by a breath analyser. This is a device that analyses the alcohol content in the blood from a breath sample. This gives an idea to the law enforcement agencies about the condition of the driver. This is usually followed by more medical tests to confirm the findings. The law enforcement agencies all over the world have legal power to enforce a breath analyser test.

Breath Analyser

There are various brands of breath analysers available, but all of them follow the same principle. When the user exhales into a breath analyzer, any ethanol present in their breath is oxidized to acetic acid at the anode. A complex chemical reaction takes place and an electric current is produced which passes through a micro processor and displays the blood alcohol content. The entire operation takes place in real time and results are available instantaneously. These results are accepted in all courts of law. The breath analyser tests have been proved scientifically as correct and statistically accurate.

Criminal Prosecution

The readings obtained by the law enforcement agency like the police can be used for criminal prosecution. In case a driver is driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level above the permissible limit, then he can be charged with a criminal offense.

It must be borne in mind that in the United States, it is illegal to drive a vehicle with blood alcohol level over 0.08 or higher. However in the state of Wisconsin in case of a first time arraignment, it is a civil and not a criminal offence.

Reason for Breath Analyser Tests

Many people feel that it is an unnecessary harassment to check drivers of vehicles for alcohol blood level. But a look at the statistics shows that such tests serve a special pupose.It has been estimated by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that 17,941 people died in 2006 in alcohol-related collisions. This figure amounts to 40% of all traffic related deaths in the USA. The figures have gone up since then. Deaths due to alcohol related accidents are on the rise as more and more teens are driving after a large swig of alcohol.

Last Word

Last Word

The law in the USA is very clear and driving under the influence of alcohol above the permissible limit is a criminal offence. It serves a twofold purpose. Firstly, it safe guards the driver himself and secondly the persons other than the driver on the road are protected. This is a universal law and whether you stay in a democracy or a communist state, the principle is the same. This is one law where all nations are in agreement.


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    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

      Dear stbrians, thank you, but many dont follow what you have commented, which is sad.

    • stbrians profile image

      Meshack Bwoyele Keya 3 years ago from Vihiga County,Western Kenya

      If you drink do not drive and if you have to drive then do not drink. Alcohol influences sight and also proper judgement.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you DDE for support and comment

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting and very helpful.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Eric for a supportive comment

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent, we need as many reminders as we can get.