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The Florida Bar

DUI by the Numbers

Driving under the influence and criminal defense issues associated with it often involve a lot of numbers, notes Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer William Moore. 0.08 is the blood alcohol content at which a person is presumed to be impaired. Controlled substances, either prescription or completely illegal, are not quantified in urinalysis, making those tests less effective for prosecutors trying to prove a DUI case. On the other hand, those substances can be and generally are quantified in blood samples, according to Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney William Moore. Therefore, the state’s toxicologist may testify as an expert witness regarding matters such as whether the substances are present at a therapeutic level.

Another numbers issue often addressed by anti-drunk driving organizations is the role alcohol plays in accidents and traffic problems more generally. Studies consistently show that in accidents where a driver is injured, the hurt person more often than not caused the accident. The studies also show that the rates for responsibility of the accidents fatal to the drivers are even higher for those drivers who are under the influence at the time of the accident, by a difference of 68% for non-impaired drivers to 94% for impaired drivers. The figures include accidents that did not involve any other cars.

About one of every seven drivers on the road suffers from diabetes, which is staggering when taken in consideration with the fact that a diabetic suffering from a serious hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episode often exhibits the same signs law enforcement officers look for in DUI — slurring speech, unsteadiness, confusion or disorientation, to name a few. The breath test machine, or breathalyzer, will not exonerate these individuals. During a hypoglycemic episode, the driver will produce significant acetone, which the breathalyzer registers as though it were alcohol.

Field sobriety tests produce some interesting numbers, as well, says Broward DUI Lawyer William Moore. A Clemson University study tested officers’ ability to distinguish test-takers who had been drinking from those who had not. None of those taking the field sobriety tests had consumed any alcohol. The officers were not told this fact, and after seeing their performance on the roadside tests, found that 46% of the individuals were too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. If law enforcement officers can only spot a sober person half of the time, these tests are not very useful.

Although the ratio has and continues to shift dramatically, women are still arrested for DUI at much lower rates than men are. Fewer than 20% of DUI defendants are women, and more than 90% of those who have a second or subsequent DUI arrest are men. Women are also more difficult to test with a breathalyzer machine, as they may not have the lung capacity that a man would have, and there are certain inherent BAC testing biases that skew against women.

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