If you’re under the legal limit (a BAC of 0.08%) then you may assume that you’re safe from a DUI. After all, many people believe that breaking the limit is the only way to get drunk driving charges. They think of it like the speed limit. If you go over the limit, you’re breaking the law, but it is by definition impossible to get charged if you don’t break that limit.
This theory does hold true for speed limits, but it does not work the same way for the legal BAC limit. You can absolutely get a DUI even if you are under that line, and it’s important to look at the following ways that may happen.
You’re still impaired and the police have other proof
First of all, you may still be impaired by the alcohol you consumed, even if you’re not over the limit. That line really just denotes when the court can assume that your drinking impaired your ability to drive, even if you say that it didn’t. Below that, you can still argue that you weren’t impaired, but they just have to prove it in a different way. They could point to evidence that you caused an accident, for instance, or to the fact that you failed field sobriety tests.
You’re an underage driver
If you’re under 21 years old, you have a lower limit than drivers who are old enough to drink. It’s a misconception that the 0.08% limit applies to everyone. Since it’s illegal for younger drivers to drink at all, they can be charged with a DUI if alcohol is merely detected. For instance, if you’re 17 years old and you have a BAC of 0.02%, the police can give you impaired driving charges, despite the normal limit being four times as high.
What can you do if you are charged?
You may be surprised to find yourself facing serious charges when you thought you didn’t break the law. It’s important to know why these types of charges are possible and exactly what legal options you have moving forward.