Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, and most people can’t operate a car normally at a BAC of 0.08. This isn’t to say that driving after drinking any amount is against the law. If you’ve had one drink and your driving is not affected by the alcohol, you likely won’t be suspected of DUI. If you are impaired by alcohol, your driving ability is not where it needs to be and you could draw the attention of a police officer on the road. Alcohol impairment begins at 0.08 for most people; however, it varies from person to person and can occur at a higher or lower BAC.
BAC or blood alcohol content is the amount of alcohol present in 100 milliliters of blood. In the U.S. the legal BAC is 0.08, meaning there are 80 milligrams (0.08 grams) of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood. At this level, a person is considered “legally intoxicated,” and above this level, they’re considered “very impaired.” However, if you’re stopped under the suspicion of DUI and submit to a breath test, and you blow below a 0.08, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re off the hook.
Alcohol Crash Fatalities are Declining Around the Country
An officer who suspects a motorist of driving under the influence of alcohol will stop him at the side of the road to conduct a series of tests to confirm his suspicion. Police officers on traffic duty aim to get dangerous drivers off the road so they can avoid hurting themselves or others. Each year, police departments allocate a significant budget to traffic resources to achieve their goal of reducing traffic deaths.
Traffic deaths due to drunk driving are falling across the country, but drunk driving still claims thousands of lives each year. In 2017, 5,125 alcohol-related traffic crashes caused 350 fatalities in Florida, there was a decrease of 16.07% from the previous year. Many attribute this declining number of alcohol fatalities to different factors, including:
- Greater awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving
- More transportation options
- and a higher concentration of young people living in cities where they don’t need cars to get around.
It’s also reasonable to assume that many accidents were avoided because of officers’ diligence and dedication to conducting DUI investigations.
What Does it Take to Get Arrested for Drunk Driving?
Getting arrested for DUI can be likened to the domino effect. Once an officer observes erratic driving behavior and selects your car for investigation, it’s almost inevitable that you will drive home from the stop carefree, just like that last domino will ultimately be pushed over.
Many people assume they must fail a breath test by blowing 0.08 or higher on a breathalyzer to be arrested for DUI. The reality is that anyone who shows signs of impairment can be arrested and have their license confiscated, regardless of their BAC.
Generally, you will walk away with a DUI if the following takes place:
- You fail a breath or blood test with a BAC at or above 0.08
- Police believe your behavior and actions behind the wheel are a threat to yourself or other drivers
While a 0.08 result is considered a per se DUI, which means that all it takes to prove you were driving drunk is the result of the breath or blood test, police can use their judgment of your behavior to arrest you even if your BAC was below 0.08.
What Kind of Driving Behavior Can Get You Pulled Over for DUI?
Police officers do not have the authority to stop any driver simply because they want to; instead, they must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is breaking the law. Signs of intoxicated driving provide visual cues that alert an officer to a possible DUI situation before the driver is ever approached.
Some of these cues include:
- Weaving within a lane
- Having trouble staying in one lane
- Turning too widely
- Difficulty stopping
- Varying speed
- Driving below the speed limit
- Going the wrong way on a one-way street
- Not using headlights
- Failing to signal turns or signaling the wrong direction
- Following cars too closely
After police stop a driver, they may issue tests at the side of the road to confirm their suspicion of DUI. These tests may include hand-eye coordination tests and a roadside breath test. Depending on the suspect’s performance, he or she may be arrested and taken to the police station to blow on an Intoxilyzer 8000, the only machine whose results may be used as evidence in court.
How People Get a DUI with a BAC Below 0.08
You can get a DUI if you blow 0.08 or below if you show signs of impairment; yet, many people can end up with a DUI after blowing below 0.08 regardless of impairment, including:
- People who are under 21 years old will get a DUI if their breath test results detect any trace of alcohol. Usually, this occurs at a 0.02 BAC
- Commercial drivers who drink and drive can get a DUI for blowing 0.04 or higher. They may lose their commercial licenses for DUI.
Additionally, if you blow close to 0.08, you will likely get a DUI. The prosecutor can argue that because your BAC was almost 0.08, it was above the legal limit before the officer stopped you. This is an argument that an experienced DUI lawyer in West Palm Beach can challenge.
Anyone with a BAC below 0.08 whom prosecutors show was impaired can be convicted of DUI.
Where to Find Strong DUI Defense in West Palm Beach
When your future is on the line because of an alcohol offense, you should only trust an attorney who has proven himself in court. You can find this attorney at The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel. For more than 25 years, our firm has provided competent legal defense for people facing alcohol charges in Palm Beach and surrounding counties. Attorney Brian P. Gabriel has vast expertise in the functions of BAC tests and extensive knowledge on issues regarding the Intoxilyzer 8000.
When you discuss your case with attorney Brian Gabriel, he can dive into the facts and find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. In some cases, it may be possible to have your charge dismissed before appearing in court. For a free case review, call our office at 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form.