Words are funny things. We think we know what a word means until we stop for a second and try to define it. Let me ask you a question: Have you ever driven while you were drunk? What the hell is “drunk” anyway?
In terms of the law, it is really a misnomer to say your are facing “drunk driving” charges, or you have a conviction for “drunk driving.” In the context of DUI charges, the law is concerned with whether or not you were “under the influence” of alcohol, drugs, or both, while driving (see Vehicle Code 23152(a)). Which may make you wonder: What the hell is “under the influence” anyway?
The California courts have basically interpreted “under the influence” to mean the impairment of your brain or muscles to an appreciable degree to cause you to operate a vehicle more poorly than a person of ordinary prudence.
Quite frankly, I have been “under the influence” of Taco Bell while driving, such that trying to top each bit of my grilled stuffed burrito with hot sauce caused me to operate my vehicle below the standard of an ordinary prudent person.
But the law explicitly wants to protect us from irresponsible consumers of alcohol and drugs, more so than irresponsible Taco Bell lovers.
So how does an officer determine whether or not your faculties are impaired to “an appreciable degree” for purposes of a DUI arrest? One way is the field sobriety tests. You can read about one of the field sobriety tests in my other blog post here. Other symptoms that tell an officer whether you are “under the influence” are slurred speech (I hope you don’t have a speech impediment), odor of alcohol on your breath (I hope you didn’t just rinse with mouthwash), and a flushed face (hopefully you don’t have rosacea).
The sad reality is that you may be falsely arrested for DUI because officers mistakenly believe you were “under the influence.” It can be important to hire a good lawyer in these types of circumstances.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call me at 310-200-4519, or contact me through my website if you’d like help with your DUI case.