You have never gotten a DUI before, but you are well aware that the legal limit is 0.08%. You have to keep your blood alcohol concentration under that level or you could face charges.
You do everything you can to adhere to that rule. You pay attention to how much you drink. You learn about how fast your BAC can rise and fall. You find out exactly how different the alcohol content can be from one drink to the next. You even buy yourself a small breath test to use if you think you’re close.
Your vigilance pays off. When you do get pulled over, your BAC comes back at 0.07%. But then a strange thing happens. Noting that you ran a stop sign and swerved out of your lane, the officer arrests you anyway.
The legal limit?
You argue that the breath test proves you were not intoxicated. It’s not over the legal limit. You ask the officer to let you go home, but they refuse. You go along with them, but you feel like it’s an illegal arrest.
Here’s what you must know: 0.08% may be the limit, but that does not mean that you cannot get a DUI while under that limit. A reading of 0.07% may be plenty.
The legal limit is not the only thing that defines DUI charges. It’s not some limit that determines whether or not you can get arrested.
Instead, police spend their time looking for signs that you are impaired by alcohol or other drugs while driving. They could cite things like slurred speech during the traffic stop, failing field sobriety tests and the like. They may bring up your running the stop sign or swerving out of your lane — the very things that triggered the initial traffic stop.
The officers could then say that they clearly observed that you suffered from significant impairment. The test showed that you had, in fact, been drinking. That could bring on a DUI arrest.
Now, if you had been over the legal limit, that evidence alone may have convicted you, but you weren’t. This means that the process takes a bit of a different turn. The officers have to show that the alcohol impaired your ability even below the limit. They can’t rely on the law to do it for them.
As such, it is incredibly important that you know exactly what legal defense options you have. Remember, just getting arrested does not mean you will get convicted, and there are steps you can take to help protect your future.