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If you’re under the legal limit, can you still be charged with a DUI?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2023 | DUI

Most drivers are well aware that the legal limit of potential alcohol intoxication is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% for non-commercial drivers who are 21 or older. Someone who has had a single drink may still be well below this number, although it’s important to note that alcohol impacts everyone differently. Your BAC is tied to things like your weight and your gender. So, one drink for a 100-pound woman may result in a different BAC than the way in which one drink would affect a 200-pound man.

Breaking the legal limit gives the courts the ability to presume that you were impaired. A breath test can be used as evidence. Is the opposite also true? If the police give you a breath test and your BAC measures at 0.07% or anywhere else under the legal limit, can you are you then protected from being charged with a DUI?

Impairment can still be alleged

The government in Virginia is actually very clear that you do not have to break the legal limit to be convicted of a DUI offense. If you are impaired, then you can be arrested, tried and convicted. It doesn’t matter if your BAC is 0.02 or 0.09. You could be arrested either way, and so you shouldn’t assume that you’re protected from that potential action just because you’re not over the legal limit. Impairment can be shown in many ways, after all. A police officer may say that they saw you drifting all over the road and they knew that you were impaired, even though your BAC was less than the legal limit. Another example could be if you caused a car accident and you had any alcohol or problematic substances in your system whatsoever.

Even someone who has a BAC of 0.00% could be arrested on impaired driving charges. Drivers need to remember that impairment can result from more than just one source. Alcohol is arguably the most common, but people can also be impaired by drugs, such as marijuana. Even someone who is using painkillers or other prescription medications – which may be completely legal to use, if they have a valid prescription – could be arrested for impaired driving if those drugs change their ability to drive safely.

If you ever find yourself in a position wherein you’ve been arrested for alleged impaired driving, know that there are ways to potentially defend against such charges successfully. Seeking legal guidance to explore your options is a good way to start moving forward.