It is the responsibility of every citizen to avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol. While most people are responsible enough to never do this, it can also be beneficial to understand the actual laws that are used to charge drivers with DUIs. You might be surprised by the way the law actually works. It is technically possible to be arrested while under the legal limit. This short guide will go over everything you need to know about laws surrounding drinking and driving.
The First Law
There are actually two laws that describe what it means to be driving while illegally intoxicated. The first law is the one that most people are familiar with, and it is also the most straightforward law. It states that no one may ever operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content level above 0.08. This could not be simpler. If your blood alcohol content level is measured at or above 0.08, you will be arrested with a DUI charge and most likely convicted. There is very little forgiveness for people who commit this particular crime.
The Second Law
The second law is a little more complicated. It states that no one may operate a vehicle while impaired beyond the ability to drive safely. Right off the bat, you can probably tell that this is much more subjective than the first law. This is an intentional design, allowing officers to catch unsafe drivers who may slip past the first law due to a loophole. It is sometimes possible to be intoxicated enough for it to be dangerous to drive, despite having a blood alcohol content level below 0.08. This is called a “per se DUI.” If this is the case for you, you will be arrested, charged, and possibly convicted of a DUI. Additionally, this law also makes it possible to be arrested when impaired by some non-alcoholic, mind-altering substances, such as drugs.
For per se DUIs, it is up to the arresting officer’s judgment to determine what is safe and unsafe driving. This decision may be based on swerving while driving, hitting objects or other cars, or the inability to speak clearly. However, there needs to be some evidence of intoxication. This is called “probable cause.” If there is no reason for the officer to believe you were impaired beyond what was safe, it is improper for the officer to arrest you. If you believe this happened to you, you should tell find a skilled criminal defense attorney, like a criminal defense attorney in DC, immediately.
Thanks to The Lawfirm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C., for their insight into how DUI laws work