If you get behind the wheel after a beer or a glass of wine, can you be arrested for drunk driving—even if you took a breath or blood test and your blood alcohol level was below the legal limit? Few have the right answer to this important question. Unfortunately, having the wrong answer may lead to a DUI/OWI charge and conviction.
In Michigan, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your bodily alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or greater. This is the law that most drivers are familiar with. But did you know that you could face DUI charges even if your BAC is below .08? According to the Michigan State Police, “…drivers can be arrested at any BAC level if they exhibit signs of impairment while operating a motor vehicle.”
Under Michigan law, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while:
- Impaired by alcohol, drugs, or another intoxicating substance.
- With a BAC of .08 or greater, or a BAC of .02 or greater if the driver is under the age of 21.
- With any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance (such as cocaine) in one’s system.
If you meet one or more of the above criteria, you may be arrested for DUI.
You Can Face DUI Charges Even with a Low BAC
As a driver in Michigan, you can face DUI charges even if your bodily alcohol content was below .08 at the time of your arrest. All the prosecution will be looking to prove is that your abilities were impaired or that you were intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or another substance. They may use a BAC test result of .05 or so to support the charges against you, but you need to know that it is not necessary for you to have blown a .08 on a breathalyzer to be convicted.
Similarly, you could face DUI charges even if your abilities were not impaired, so long as your blood or breath alcohol test showed a result of .08 or greater, or if you had evidence of a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your system. These cases go both ways.
What Evidence Supports DUI Charges Involving Low Blood Alcohol Levels?
If you can be charged with drunk driving even though your BAC was below .08, you’re probably wondering what evidence law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney will try to use against you to prove impairment.
With cases involving drivers who had BACs below the legal limit when they were arrested, the prosecution will often rely on testimony from the arresting officer, video surveillance, or other evidence to show that the driver’s abilities were impaired.
The following may be interpreted as signs of impairment/intoxication:
- Swerving, speeding, driving too slowly, or other traffic violations
- Poor performance on field sobriety tests
- Slurred speech
- Mood swings
- Lack of coordination, such as swaying or stumbling
No DUI Case Is a Lost Cause
As a DUI attorney with nearly 20 years of experience, I firmly believe that there is no such thing as an open-and-shut DUI case. Even if the odds seem stacked against you, a thorough investigation and review of the evidence from every angle may reveal an opportunity to shift things in your favor.
This applies if you were arrested for drunk driving even though your BAC was below the legal limit. The arresting officer may claim that you swerved from your lane or that you failed field sobriety tests like the horizontal gaze nystagmus or the one-leg stand. But what if these tests were administered incorrectly? What if you have a medical condition, were wearing high-heeled shoes, or were trying to perform a test like the walk-and-turn on a dimly lit sidewalk? Taking this and all evidence into account, I can use my knowledge and experience to build a compelling defense. I give every case my all because I know I’m fighting for my clients’ freedom.
Find out how I can help with your case today by calling (248) 599-0054. I serve clients facing DUI and a wide range of other criminal charges in Farmington Hills and throughout Oakland County and the surrounding areas in Michigan.