What Are Driving Deficiencies? Definition, Meaning and Concept

Driving impairments are any condition or action that prevents a driver from operating a vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner. They include such things as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, obstructed viewpoints, and various conditions related to distracted driving. In general, there are laws against actions and conditions that could lead to impaired driving conditions. As a condition of being licensed to drive, motorists must be aware of and agree to comply with the laws in their area before operating a motor vehicle.

One of the most common causes of driving problems is alcohol consumption. When alcohol is used, reaction times, balance, and vision can be inhibited, leading to problems while driving. While everyone may react to alcohol a little differently, most jurisdictions put a limit on the amount of alcohol that can be in someone's blood while operating a motor vehicle. In general, the blood alcohol percentage cannot be more than .08 to 1 in most jurisdictions, which is expressed in some countries as 80 to 100 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

Drugs, both legal and illegal, can have effects similar to alcohol and therefore people taking some medications should refrain from driving. While often overlooked, many jurisdictions consider certain medications to be serious driving impairments. It could be just as illegal to drive with those in a person's system as alcohol would be. Medications that impair driving often list it as a side effect on the warning label.

Another common driving problem is having obstructed vision, which is also illegal in most jurisdictions. This can apply to having a windshield covered in frost and only a small section clear. It could also be something inside the vehicle with the driver that may be obstructing their view, such as a piece of cargo blocking a window. If this is against the law in an area, it may be up to a law enforcement officer to determine if the situation presents sufficient risk that the operator cannot safely operate the vehicle.

Driving problems can also be other types of distractions, such as cell phone use, eating, or grooming. In general, laws vary regarding this type of activity by drivers. If the activity is suspected of causing an accident, the distracted driver will usually be the one accused of being at fault in the accident.

Criminal penalties for impaired driving depend largely on the situation and the jurisdiction. Many places may impose a mandatory minimum jail stay for those convicted of even a first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol. Penalties can also increase based on the number of crimes and whether the crime resulted in an accident with injury or death.