There are many misconceptions about driving under the influence, especially when it comes to blood alcohol content. The nationwide limit is .08 percent (.04 for commercial drivers,) and you may believe if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving and your BAC is below that level, you cannot get arrested. However, the facts about drunk driving are not as clear cut as this, and knowing the truth can help you avoid a conviction.
- You Can Be Pulled Over on Reasonable Suspicion
You might think that you can only be pulled over if you are swerving or otherwise visibly drunk while you are behind the wheel, but in truth, any police officer can stop you if he or she witnesses more subtle signs. These can include not making a complete stop at a light or having a slow reaction time for braking or accelerating. As long as the officer has what is called “reasonable suspicion,” you may be detained and tested via a sobriety test or breathalyzer.
- Passing a Sobriety Test Still May Result in an Arrest
If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you may be asked to take a breathalyzer and field sobriety test. Refusing may result in immediate arrest, but even if you consent and pass, the officer still may place you under arrest if he or she believes you are a danger to yourself or others if you get back on the road. Depending on your BAC, you could also be detained on suspicion of driving drunk.
- You Can Be Drunker Than You Feel
Alcohol can affect everyone differently and depending on your weight, age, the amount of food you eat with the alcohol, and your tolerance, you may feel more sober than your BAC indicates. For example, if you drive with a BAC of .10 you may feel sober enough to drive when in truth, this percentage is enough to slow your reaction time. In an emergency situation, such as when you must brake suddenly, this can cause a serious accident.
- You Can Be Convicted for Almost Any BAC
While the legal blood alcohol level for most states is .08, you can still be convicted of drunk driving if you fail a field sobriety test or cause an accident when you have alcohol in your system. You can also be convicted of a felony if you leave the scene of an accident where injuries have occurred, depending on the laws of your state.
Driving under the influence of alcohol can have serious long-term consequences, so it is wise to understand the facts connected with such a decision. Contact an attorney, like a criminal defense attorney from The Morales Law Firm, today for more information.