DUI When Your BAC Is Below The Legal Limit
Having a few too many drinks and getting behind the wheel is the typical DUI scenario and most people probably equate a DUI with driving when your blood alcohol content is at 0.08 percent or more. But under Pennsylvania law, a DUI can be more than having a high BAC. In fact, you can be arrested, charged, and convicted of a DUI without driving with a BAC above the legal limit because you were impaired by something else.
When the Police can Arrest you for DUI
Pennsylvania statute §3802(s) states you may not be in physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing enough alcohol that you are rendered incapable of being in actual control of the movement of the vehicle or safely drive the vehicle. Nowhere in this section is your BAC discussed. The police can arrest you for a DUI if it is clear that you have had enough to drink to make you unable to safely drive, which could be less than 0.08 percent.
You can be arrested for a DUI if you drive while impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. You may have no alcohol in your system or a very low BAC but still be too intoxicated from a controlled substance or prescription medication to safely operate a vehicle.
How the Police Decide to Arrest You
When the police pull you over under the suspicion of impaired or intoxicated driving, they have already seen warning signs. It may be swerving, driving too fast or too slow for the road, a bottle of alcohol in the car, or an accident. However, this isn’t enough to automatically arrest you for a DUI.
The police must have probable cause that you are driving while impaired or intoxicated from drugs or alcohol before they can arrest you for a DUI. Probable cause means there are enough signs that a prudent person would believe that you were committing the offense. This must be based on actual observations, not a hunch or feeling.
Factors that may give the police probable cause include:
- Your answers to questions
- Your behavior during the stop
- The smell of alcohol or other drugs in your car
- The smell of alcohol on your breath
- Bloodshot or glassy eyes
- Jerky eye movements
- Slurred speech
- Uncoordinated movement or an inability to walk without assistance
The police may also gather evidence from a breath test or field sobriety tests. You are not required to take any physical field sobriety tests, but you should submit to the breath test. Remember though, the police can gather enough probable cause to arrest you without you blowing over a 0.08 percent BAC.
Defending Against a DUI
If you have been charged with a DUI but your BAC was below the legal limit, contact an experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC right away. A skilled attorney may be able to demonstrate to the court that the police did not have probable cause to make the initial stop or did not have probable cause to arrest you for a DUI when your BAC was about the Pennsylvania legal limit. You may also have a legitimate reason why you showed signs of impairment, such as a valid prescription drug.