Common knowledge has it that driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 or more will get you arrested and charged with DUI (driving under the influence). This is only partly right, as most of the common knowledge issues usually are. There are circumstances under which you can be arrested and charged with DUI even if your BAC is way below 0.8; here are some examples of such circumstances:
You Were Visibly Impaired
Driving under the influence is dangerous because it interferes with your ability to react in an emergency, your judgment, and even your eyesight – in short, it impairs your driving. The 0.8 BAC limit was chosen because this is the point at which most people become impaired. However, some people become impaired even with BACs lower than 0.8.
The police officers know this, which is why they can arrest and charge you with DUI if you look impaired even if your BAC is below 0.8. Here are some of the signs that may signal to an officer that you are impaired:
- Sudden acceleration or braking
- Ignoring traffic lights
- Driving in the wrong lanes
- Straddling the center lane
You Were Driving In a Zero Tolerance State
The 0.8 BAC limit applies to some, but not all states. Some states have enacted (and enforce) zero-tolerance laws, which make it illegal to drive with any BAC above zero. In such a state, you can be charged with DUI even if your BAC is a "mere" 0.02. For example, you may be stopped for an unrelated issue (say a broken tail light), and if the officer decides (for any reason) to administer a breathalyzer on you, they can arrest you if your BAC isn't zero.
You Are Underage
Lastly, you can also be charged with DUI if your BAC is above zero but lower than 0.8 if you are under the age of 21. This is because it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol (with a few exceptions). Therefore, if you are food drunk and driving and you are underage (as far as drinking alcohol is concerned), the officer won't care about your BAC level; you will be charged with DUI.
As you can see, you shouldn't assume that you can drive without legal trouble just because you have consumed just a little alcohol and your BAC is low. The best way to avoid DUI charges is to avoid drinking and driving. In case you made the mistake and you have already been arrested, consult a DUI lawyer to help you fight your charges and ensure that your legal rights are observed.
Contact a law office like Pollack & Ball LLC for more information and assistance.