Meaning of Under the Influence

Under the Influence

“Under the influence,” as used by Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorneys and Broward prosecutors alike, covers not only all well-known and easily recognized conditions and degrees of intoxication, but any abnormal mental or physical condition which is the result of indulging in any degree in intoxicating liquors, and which tends to deprive one of that clearness of intellect and control of himself which he would otherwise possess. Any condition where intoxicating liquor has so far affected the nervous system, brain or muscles of the driver so as to impair, to an applicable degree, his ability to operate his automobile in the manner that an ordinary, prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would operate or drive under like conditions. (emphasis supplied).

However, the same district court that made the ruling in Brown, subsequently clarified the meaning of the word “impaired” as it is used in the statute. In Shaw v. State, the court ruled that it was reversible error for the trial judge to allow the State to argue that it had met its burden “by proving that the defendant’s faculties were weakened rather than impaired.” The court said: “Impair denotes a worsening or diminishment in some material respect. Weaken means to reduce in intensity or effectiveness. See Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, pp. 569, 1316. One can be weakened without being impaired since impairment requires a diminishment in some material respect.”

In proving impairment of normal faculties, a Broward County DUI Attorney should be concerned about the need for evidence of the defendant’s usual capabilities. What are the person’s normal faculties? Essentially, the same question arises when sanity is an issue. Everyone is presumed to be sane (i.e. “normal”), but, where the defendant introduces sufficient evidence to raise a reasonable doubt as to sanity, the presumption disappears. The State must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was sane. Similarly, a person is presumed to have normal faculties. If, however, evidence to the contrary exists, the presumption disappears and the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had normal faculties. This is important primarily where there is an affliction or disability affecting the defendant’s normal faculties.

In addition to questions as to whether the accused has abnormal faculties, his Fort Lauderdale criminal attorneys should be clear as to whether the accused has an abnormal tolerance for alcohol or medication. The trial judge addressed this issue in State v. Knopp. In that case, the defendant argued that the defendant’s high blood alcohol level couldn’t be right because the defendant’s condition was so good. The trial judge ruled that the State was entitled to introduce expert testimony that the defendant could appear to be in good condition and still have a high blood alcohol level, because he had a high tolerance for alcohol. The court concluded that such testimony was relevant and not unfairly prejudicial.

“Under the influence,” as used by Fort Lauderdale criminal attorneys and Broward prosecutors alike, covers not only all well-known and easily recognized conditions and degrees of intoxication, but any abnormal mental or physical condition which is the result of indulging in any degree in intoxicating liquors, and which tends to deprive one of that clearness of intellect and control of himself which he would otherwise possess. Any condition where intoxicating liquor has so far affected the nervous system, brain or muscles of the driver so as to impair, to an applicable degree, his ability to operate his automobile in the manner that an ordinary, prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would operate or drive under like conditions. (emphasis supplied).

However, the same district court that made the ruling in Brown, subsequently clarified the meaning of the word “impaired” as it is used in the statute. In Shaw v. State, the court ruled that it was reversible error for the trial judge to allow the State to argue that it had met its burden “by proving that the defendant’s faculties were weakened rather than impaired.” The court said: “Impair denotes a worsening or diminishment in some material respect. Weaken means to reduce in intensity or effectiveness. See Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, pp. 569, 1316. One can be weakened without being impaired since impairment requires a diminishment in some material respect.”

In proving impairment of normal faculties, a DUI attorney should be concerned about the need for evidence of the defendant’s usual capabilities. What are the person’s normal faculties? Essentially, the same question arises when sanity is an issue. Everyone is presumed to be sane (i.e. “normal”), but, where the defendant introduces sufficient evidence to raise a reasonable doubt as to sanity, the presumption disappears. The State must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was sane. Similarly, a person is presumed to have normal faculties. If, however, evidence to the contrary exists, the presumption disappears and the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had normal faculties. This is important primarily where there is an affliction or disability affecting the defendant’s normal faculties.

In addition to questions as to whether the accused has abnormal faculties, his Fort Lauderdale criminal attorneys should be clear as to whether the accused has an abnormal tolerance for alcohol or medication. The trial judge addressed this issue in State v. Knopp. In that case, the defendant argued that the defendant’s high blood alcohol level couldn’t be right because the defendant’s condition was so good. The trial judge ruled that the State was entitled to introduce expert testimony that the defendant could appear to be in good condition and still have a high blood alcohol level, because he had a high tolerance for alcohol. The court concluded that such testimony was relevant and not unfairly prejudicial.