Washington DUI charges are quite serious and have the potential to alter your entire life. Nearly everyone knows that you can be charged with DUI for blowing 0.08 or above. All states observe the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08. If you take a breathalyzer test and measure 0.08 it is a “per se” violation which gives the officer enough cause to automatically charge you with DUI. But what about times when your BAC measures lower than 0.08? Can you still be charged? Will you still need a DUI attorney in Washington?
How Law Enforcement Determines Impairment
The short answer to this question is a resounding “yes” although we would hope for it to be the opposite. Many understand that at 0.08 or above a driver is likely impaired and should not be behind the wheel. By that logic, many also assume that driving with a BAC of under 0.08 automatically excuses you from DUI charges as you do not have a high enough concentration to be impaired. Simple biology prevents this from being the truth.
When a law enforcement officer pulls someone over for DUI it is often after observing a pattern of poor driving behavior that can lead to a serious accident. The driver is then pulled over, usually submitted to field sobriety tests and then tested on a portable breathalyzer. This helps the officer develop probable cause. The driver, if he is believed to be impaired, is then taken to the precinct to test on a stationary machine. If the driver at this point blows under 0.08, he is not immune to avoiding charges.
Several reasons may lead the driver to seem impaired to law enforcement. In Washington, the legalization of marijuana has led to many officers cracking down on marijuana DUIs. If marijuana is used along with alcohol, it can impair driving ability. Alcohol used in conjunction with over the counter or prescription medications can also cause impairment. This is why your BAC does not always correlate with your level of driving ability.
Tolerance also plays a role in alcohol use, although not as much as with marijuana. An experienced drinker and driver, for example, who has already developed a tolerance can be competent behind the wheel and still test at 0.08 BAC. Someone who is younger or who does not drink often may have difficulty driving after just one or two drinks, and test below the legal limit. That person can still be charged with DUI in Washington.
Don’t take chances. If you have been charged with DUI and blew under 0.08 you may have a strong case depending on the circumstances, but you are not off the hook. Attorney Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. of Murphy’s Law Offices has ample experience defending DUI in Washington. Call (253) 312-6122 now.