When discussing charges of impaired driving and the circumstances surrounding them, a question often asked is, “Can I still get a DUI if I have tested under the legal limit?” Many people are surprised to hear that the answer to that question is “yes,” and are anxious to understand how this could possibly be the case. In general, there are two circumstances that can lead to a DUI charge even if the driver’s blood alcohol content is below 0.08 percent. Though specifics vary from state to state, these circumstances generally hold true despite one’s location.
Underage Drinking and Blood Alcohol Content
Firstly, there is the case of underage drinking. The acceptable levels of blood alcohol content are far lower for underage drinkers than for people over the age of 21. In fact, in many cases there is a zero tolerance law in effect, which means that any alcohol detected in the bloodstream would be basis enough for a DUI charge. In these instances, a person could still get a DUI even though their blood alcohol content is below 0.08 percent.
Officer Discretion Regarding Impairment
The other reason for a DUI charge despite a relatively low blood alcohol content comes down to a matter of personal judgment. If a driver has a blood alcohol content reading lower than 0.08 percent but still shows signs of impairment, they may indeed face a DUI charge. What is known as the “legal limit” is actually the limit above which a person must legally receive a DUI, or the limit at which a person can be charged with a DUI regardless of whether or not they are showing signs of impairment.
However, this does not mean that if a driver’s blood alcohol content is below this number that they absolutely will not receive a DUI. If they test below the legal limit, whether they are charged with a DUI or not is at the discretion of the officer. If the driver fails field sobriety tests or was showing signs of impairment during driving, they may very well be looking at receiving a DUI.
It is important to understand and internalize this information because knowing the legalities concerning a DUI can significantly aid your chances in court if this is indeed the situation you are facing. A DUI can be an extremely costly and stigmatizing conviction to overcome and is never something that should be taken lightly. Blood alcohol content scores alone are not always enough to get someone out of a DUI, and so it is very important to understand the laws and the law in your particular state. As always, legal help can only benefit someone facing a DUI; the services and expertise of lawyers who have dealt with many DUIs over a long period of time can prove to be extremely beneficial in court.