But I Wasn't Even Above the Legal Limit!

All of the states have made it perfectly clear to just about every driver in the United States that operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or over is against the law. You're well aware of that. You're a responsible person with a family, a mortgage, and a good job that requires you to drive as a condition of your employment. That's why you only had two drinks when you and your wife went to dinner with friends tonight. You had one vodka and tonic with dinner and another one after dinner. You knew that you weren't drunk when you left the restaurant, especially after having a large meal. No sooner did you get on the roadway from the restaurant, than you were pulled over by the police. The officer told you that you made a wide right turn when you pulled out, and the left side tires of your car touched the center line.

The Tests

The officer who stopped you now asks you to perform certain standard field sobriety tests consisting of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test and walking a straight line, and the counting test. You were satisfied with your performance. You are handcuffed, then taken to a breath center, and asked to consent to a breath alcohol test. You consent to a breath test, and it reads .07. That's not a problem because you're still under .08. You can go home now. No, you can’t. It is a problem, and it's a big one too. As a matter of fact, it didn’t matter what you blew at that point, the damage was already done when you were placed under arrest. You're going to be charged with DUI and spend the night in jail until you either post the appropriate bail bond or see a judge in the morning. You can't believe it, but it happens on a daily basis across the country and you will need an experienced DUI defense attorney to walk you through the next steps. That's because there are two separate and distinct sections to every state's DUI statute.

In its campaign against drunk driving, your state government didn't tell you the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It only told you half of the truth. Even if your blood alcohol content is less than .08, you can still be prosecuted for DUI if your arresting officer has a reasonable belief that you were affected by alcohol at the time of your traffic stop. That opinion will be based on the officer's observations of you and how well you performed on the field sobriety tests that you submitted. Don't count on being under .08, and don't give a police officer who doesn't care about what legal, personal, or employment consequences you face a chance. Even if you're found not guilty, there are likely to be consequences. Don't drive after consuming any alcohol at all, or take a taxi/Uber to dinner and home again.

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