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Tip 8:          Driving Under the Influence 

My girlfriend says she drives better after a few drinks?  How can she say such a stupid thing?

Jackson D.,   Framingham State College, Junior

I have heard that the police can tell if you have been drinking just by looking in your eyes.  Is this why they do that thing with the pen and make you watch it as it goes back and forth?  I got stopped the other night and the cop thought I was drinking but I wasn’t.  He did that thing with my eyes and a couple of other things then let me go.

Brad K.,   Seattle University, Junior


Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Impaired (DWI), Operating Under the Influence (OUI) all refer to driving while under the influence of alcohol or some other drug.  That’s right, alcohol or some other drug.  You can get a ticket for driving not only while under the influence of alcohol but also if you are under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, or other mind altering drugs including prescription drugs.  In some states, even if you are tired, so tired that your driving is erratic, you cold get a ticket.


State laws set a Blood Alcohol Level of .08% as the level at which a 21 year old is considered legally intoxicated.  For people under the age of 21, some states set the limit at .00%, .01% or perhaps .02%.  Check your local ordinances for the legal limits in your state and, if different, the state in which you are attending college.


Regardless of the legal limit, some studies indicate a BAL as low as .02% affects your ability to drive and increases the likelihood of an crash. The probability of a crash begins to increase significantly at a BAL of .05% and climbs rapidly above .08%.  


Nick, you are right in questioning your girlfriend’s intelligence (but don’t do it out loud!). Actually what she is probably identifying is the fact that when she is under the influence of alcohol she is just trying harder to drive better.  Trying harder does not result in safe driving however.  You may have seen that no matter how hard she tries, once she is impaired by alcohol, trying harder does not overcome the impairment.  Erratic, dangerous driving continues.  This is complicated by the fact that she may be too impaired to identify her driving as dangerous.


Yes, Jackson, trained law enforcement officials can usually recognize if you are under the influence of alcohol or some other drug by looking into your eyes.  There are specific eye movements that will indicate impairment.  Many law enforcement experts are also trained to combine the results of the eye tests with the blood pressure, temperature and pulse of the suspect to determine not only if the person is under the influence of a drug but actually what type of drug as well – all without a blood or urine test.



Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or some other drug or when extremely tired.  Always have a designated driver, call a cab, or make arrangements to stay over.

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