What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence in Prince William County?

    Live or drive through Prince William County, Virginia? Here’s information on what it means to be driving under the influence, and how law enforcement decides whether or not a DUI is drug related. If you have been charged with DUI or another related charge, call today and schedule a free consultation with a Prince William DUI lawyer.

In Prince William and in Virginia, DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, though DWI most often refers to driving while intoxicated, which is going to involve having the blood alcohol of .08 or more, and  DUI often refers to being under the influence of drugs while driving. But under Virginia statute, all such offenses are now referred to simply as DUI.

DUI, then, in Prince William County and in Virginia, is a crime involving operation of a motor vehicle, which can also include an engine or a train while “under the influence.” There are a number of ways under Virginia law a person can be under the influence.

One of those is to have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, or be under the influence of alcohol (regardless of blood alcohol concentration) to such a degree that it impairs one’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. The next way is having a prohibited amount of certain illegal drugs in the blood, or be under the influence of drugs (regardless of type or amount) to a degree that it impairs one’s ability operate the vehicle safely. The final way is to be under the influence a combination of drugs and alcohol.

The most common way being “under the influence” is proven, however, is by a blood or breath test.

What Factors Go In to Deciding Whether a DUI is Drug Related?

The  factors that go into determining whether to arrest someone on a drug related DUI are in some ways similar to an alcohol related DUI. But there are other parts that are unique to that part of DUI.

The things that they have in common are that the officers are looking at driving behavior. They are looking at the behavior of the suspect, from the time that they begin speaking to them through the field sobriety tests.

Now, where the difference comes in a typical drug DUI case is that the officer will believe that he or she has observed some impairment to some significant level. But when they administer either the preliminary breath test at the side of the road, or after the arrest at the station, they find there is no alcohol in that person’s system.

At that point, what typically will occur is that the suspect will be transported to a local hospital for the purposes of having their blood drawn. There is a blood draw kit that the officer carries.

It has to be carried by them and opened in their presence. And then someone who is qualified, either a doctor or some other medical professional, has to perform that blood draw in the presence of the officer, and hand the blood vials back to the officer.  At some point subsequent to that, it is sent to a lab for analysis.

Once that analysis has been done by the lab, a certificate is returned. If it does in fact show that there are levels of certain drugs in a person’s system that are prohibited, then that can be something that can support the charge of DUI.

Even if it’s not above the prohibited level, if nevertheless the prosecution can prove that it significantly impaired an individual, and affected their ability to drive, that can still form the basis of the DUI charge, especially in any case where it is suspected drugs were used.