DUI, Alcohol Optional
By: Gerri Elder
When most people think of DUI, the thought is usually about someone who is driving drunk after consuming too much alcohol. However, DUI is actually "Driving Under the Influence" and that can mean that the driver is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, or both. Intoxication is the issue, not the substance that caused the intoxication.
If a police officer suspects a driver of DUI, a series of field sobriety tests are usually conducted. These are the tests that most people are familiar with, such as reciting the alphabet backwards or standing on one foot for a few seconds. Field sobriety tests are designed for failure. After all, how quickly can you recite the alphabet backwards, even when completely sober? The failure of field sobriety tests allows the officer to place a driver under arrest for suspicion of DUI, and be taken downtown for a breath test.
Assuming drugs, and not alcohol, are the cause of intoxication; the driver may be able to pass a breath test with flying colors. However, that would not necessarily mean they would get a "get out of jail free" pass. If an officer finds any drugs or paraphernalia in the vehicle, or is in some other way reasonably certain that the driver is under the influence of some intoxicating substance, a court order for a blood test can be obtained to conduct a drug screening of the driver.
Take the following story as an example.
Recently in Miami, police say that a woman who had recently smoked crack cocaine with another woman ran several red lights and eventually caused a series of car crashes involving several other vehicles. Four people were injured as a result of the intoxicated driver.
The woman who was high on crack crashed into a Nissan Pathfinder SUV with a mother and her two young sons inside, causing a chain reaction of crashes. The Pathfinder flipped over and hit a Toyota vehicle, causing the Toyota vehicle to hit yet another car. That car slammed into two more vehicles before everything finally came to a stop.
Before police could arrive, the mother who had been driving the Pathfinder SUV was trying to crawl to her children when she saw people approaching her vehicle. Instead of helping her, they stole her purse and ran away as her children cried for her. Luckily the children were strapped securely into their car seats and were not injured in the accident.
The driver who caused this accident suffered severe leg injuries and rescuers had to use the "Jaws of Life" to get her out of the vehicle she was driving. Her passenger was partially ejected from the vehicle through the windshield. Both women were taken to the Ryder Trauma Center in serious condition. The passenger told police that she and the driver had been smoking crack just before the accident happened.
The driver now has more than her own health to be concerned with, as she will face DUI and other charges when she is released from the hospital.