If you’re trying to avoid a drunk driving arrest, it is important to know the legal limit. For most drivers, this is going to be 0.08% in terms of blood alcohol concentration. Some commercial drivers do have a lower limit, as do some underage drivers. But most people will be governed by this limit all across the United States.
What people sometimes think is that the limit itself indicates when you’re going to get a DUI. If you get pulled over and the police give you a breath test, you won’t get arrested if you have a 0.07% BAC, but you will if you have a 0.08% BAC. But this perspective is too simplistic and misses a key point: You can still be arrested even under that legal limit.
How does this happen?
These arrests happen because the law prohibits driving under the influence or driving while impaired. The legal limit is in place so that the police can get a measurement and, if someone is over that limit, then the court can presume that they were impaired. The person may claim that they felt fine, but their BAC proves that they did not.
However, if the police can show that someone was impaired even without breaking the legal limit, then they still violated the law. If someone with a BAC of 0.07%, just caused a car accident, for instance, the police may use that as evidence of impairment. They could also use things like failed field sobriety tests.
That said, if the police do push for a conviction for someone who was under the legal limit, it changes the type of evidence that will be used in the case. It’s very important for those who have been arrested to understand all the criminal defense options at their disposal.