Are a DUI and Impaired Driving the Same Thing?

DUI, driving under the influence, is a serious offense and one that has harsh consequences. DUI and drunk driving are often used interchangeably; however, driving under the influence is a broad term. DUI includes any type of impairment which may keep a driver from being able to make good driving decisions.

Impaired Driving

Many things may constitute possible impaired driving. For example, some types of prescription drugs may cause impairment. Impairment is simply defined as a decrease in the physical and mental ability. Impairment could come from alcohol consumption or from certain prescription or illegal drugs. Lack of sleep can also cause impaired driving. It is important to note that impaired driving may include any of these circumstances.


A DUI charge often occurs as part of a routine traffic stop. For example, you may fail to use your directional signal for a turn, which can cause the police to stop you. DUI stops are obviously more common at night; however, they can occur at any time. If you’re stopped it’s best not to admit to anything, but you must follow instructions provided by law enforcement. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to assist in resolving the charges.

DUI Tests

At the scene of the traffic stop the police officer will likely have you perform some field sobriety tests. These consist of such things as walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet, and touching your finger to your nose, to name just a few. If you fail any of these tests you’ll be asked to take a breath test and may be taken into custody. Further testing will be done using a blood or urine test. These tests are designed to screen for alcohol as well as a number of drugs.

DUI Penalties

If you are found guilty of DUI penalties could include such things as a temporary license suspension, attendance of alcohol classes, fines, and possible incarceration. Keep in mind that you aren’t guilty unless convicted in a court of law. For this reason it’s important to seek representation from an experienced DUI attorney. Your lawyer will review the situation and determine the best defense to present. In some cases your lawyer will be able to get the charges reduced or the bail lowered.