under the influence

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The phrase “under the influence” refers to impairment, to any degree, of an individual’s ability to safely perform the activity in question as a result of the use of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. 

If a person is under the influence of alcohol, the person has consumed some intoxicating beverage in such a quantity, whether small or great, to cause an adverse effect on their actions, reactions, conduct, movement or mental processes, or impairs their reactions to an appreciable degree, thereby lessening their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Being under the influence of alcohol is an element of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

Blood-alcohol content (BAC) that is timely drawn from the motorist can support an inference that the motorist was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the field sobriety test or blood test. The federal BAC limit is 0.08%, but state law may enforce a lower legal BAC limit.

[Last updated in October of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]