Driving under the Influence: Consequences, Penalties, and What to Do if Arrested

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Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous act that can jeopardise the lives of every road user, including the driver.

Unfortunately, driving under the influence (DUI) is a common menace among drivers across the world. People drink and drive for various reasons.

Some drivers have driven while drunk before and believe they can do it again without their driving skills impaired. Sometimes, alcohol might give you a false sense of security with a confidence boost that makes you feel drunk driving is something you can efficiently handle.

There are also cases of drivers getting behind the wheel despite being aware that they are drunk because they are scared of leaving their car in a place they do not know well. However, with proper driving education, DUI is an avoidable occurrence.

According to the Law Office of Aaron M. Black, PLLC, a firm with reputable Phoenix DUI lawyers, while drunk driving is a common occurrence on roads worldwide, there are instances when a driver may be wrongly accused of DUI.

Some medications can mimic the effects of alcohol or drugs, which may lead to wrongful DUI convictions. A driver may also be wrongly accused of DUI due to a mistaken identity, malicious intent, prank, or misunderstanding.

What is DUI?

Driving under the influence (DUI) means operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs to a level that affects your ability to drive safely.

Prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and even over-the-counter medications can cause impairment. About 1.19 million people worldwide

Road traffic crashes result in the yearly death of about 1.19 million people worldwide. Of this, about 27 percent are caused by DUI. Therefore, drunk driving is a public health problem affecting not just drunk drivers but also innocent and sober people like pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and other drivers.

Road crashes can be severe if the drunk driver is driving at high speed and on poor road design.

Medical conditions that can be mistaken for DUI

  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Heart diseases
  • Anxiety
  • Allergy
  • Migraine

Common drugs that can cause DUI

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Mushrooms
  • Methamphetamine

Prescription and over-the-counter medications that can cause DUI

  • Antidepressants
  • Valium
  • Amphetamines
  • Depressants
  • Diarrhea medications
  • Pain drugs
  • Cough syrups with codeine or hydrocodone
  • Opioids

Is drunk driving a crime?

Drunk driving is a crime in most countries. Depending on your local law, it may carry a fine or jail sentence, sometimes both.

Consequences of drunk driving

Driving is a complex activity involving the simultaneous use of different body parts while adapting to changing views. Alcohol or certain drugs can compromise your cognitive ability and responsiveness when behind the wheel.


Alcohol consumption can spike your blood sugar, which can lead to blurry vision. It can also cause brain malfunction, reducing the communication relay between your brain and your eyes.

A drunk driver can also suffer from double vision. All of these can hinder proper vehicle control, which can lead to an accident. Accidents can result in the death of drivers and other road users.

Criminal record

Drivers arrested for DUI risk jail term, which can reflect on their record as an ex-convict after serving the jail term.

A DUI conviction can impact your travel opportunities.

Vehicle impoundment

Law enforcement officers may impound the vehicle of a driver suspected or convicted of drunk driving.

Loss of employment

Employers may conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees. Drivers convicted of DUI might be screened out, especially if the job requires a driver’s license.

Similarly, people employed as drivers may lose their jobs after being convicted of DUI.

License suspension

Your driver’s license may be suspended in addition to the fine or imprisonment. This is to deter others from taking similar actions.

Higher insurance rates

Insurance companies will typically increase the rate for customers with previous cases of DUI, as they are assumed to carry more risk than people without DUI offenses.

Penalties for DUI

The major penalty for DUI is usually either a fine or jail term, sometimes both.

In addition, a drunk driver can be sued by accident victims and be mandated to pay compensation depending on the degree of injury caused.

What to do if arrested for DUI

Not every driver arrested for DUI is guilty. A DUI conviction is something no one should want on their record, as it can hurt your career.

Although law enforcement officers are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of all drivers and road users, there are instances when sober drivers are wrongly accused.

There are also instances of false DUI arrests, where an officer arrests you for drunk driving despite no evidence supporting such a claim.

Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, can also lead to false and wrongful DUI arrests.

Here is what to do if you or your loved ones are arrested for DUI:

  • Stay calm and polite: Although this can be a stressful moment for you, it is crucial that you remain calm and polite but firm about your rights.
  • Do not resist an arrest: Resisting an arrest or fighting a law enforcement officer can result in additional charges.
  • Avoid self-incrimination: Politely decline to answer questions that might implicate you. You are only required to provide basic identification information.
  • Request a lawyer: You have the right to an attorney. Hire a reputable DUI lawyer to defend your case.
  • Gather evidence: Document evidence relating to the arrest, including the time and location where the officer stopped you, details of eyewitnesses, and anything unusual that can prove your innocence, like medications you took before driving.

Role of a DUI lawyer

A DUI lawyer plays a vital role in protecting your rights and interests if you are arrested for drunk driving.

Some of the roles of the lawyer include:

  • Proper assessment of the case and advising on the best possible outcome
  • Evaluating the prosecution’s case to find weaknesses that can be used to defend you
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor if needed
  • Ensuring you meet all deadlines and file all appropriate paperwork in due time as demanded by law
  • Represent you in court and provide you guidance throughout the case
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