When an officer pulls you over for suspected drunk driving, they will ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests. One of the most recognizable is the breathalyzer; by blowing into this device, it will show how high the alcohol content is in your bloodstream. The legal limit is 0.08 percent, but are you automatically safe if you are below this number?
Ask any experienced Houston DWI lawyer like DNTrialLaw.com, and you will likely hear about cases where a person was arrested for drunk driving – even when the breathalyzer registered their BAC as below 0.08 percent. There are several circumstances when this might happen.
Zero Tolerance Cases
Texas has a strictly enforced “zero tolerance” law for people below 21 years old. Any detectable amount of alcohol in their body means an immediate arrest and suspension of the driver’s license. Commercial drivers also have a much lower BAC limit of 0.04 percent, so they need to watch their alcohol intake very carefully.
The breathalyzer test is far from the only thing that officers use to gauge your sobriety. They pay attention to factors like your speech, actions, and driving behavior as well. If your voice is slurred and you swerved recklessly while driving, for instance, the officer has reasonable cause to think that you are too intoxicated to be behind the wheel.
Remember that you can still be impaired even with a relatively low blood alcohol level. Certain substances, such as prescription drugs, can interact with the liquor you consume and make you far more intoxicated than you would normally be. This will not be detected by the breathalyzer, and the officer has the authority to arrest you based on their judgement.
Passage of Time
Finally, alcohol is eliminated from your bloodstream over time. This is why officers may believe that a person was still driving drunk if their BAC level was only slightly below the legal limit. You might have only registered 0.07 on the breathalyzer test, but the prosecution will argue that it only fell below 0.08 after getting pulled over.
In summary, motorists should not assume that they are safe just because they only had a few drinks before driving. While it is uncommon, you can still be arrested and charged with a DWI even if your BAC is below 0.08 percent. When this happens, you need to consult your legal counsel immediately.