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Easley Law Firm

Can I be charged with a DUI even though my blood alcohol level was below the legal limit?

Whether you bar hop on the weekends or merely drink on social occasions, it’s important to know how to drink responsibly, especially if you’re planning to get behind the wheel. In addition to protecting yourself from a potential drunk driving accident, waiting to drive until you’re sober will help you avoid DUI charges.

Over the past few years, Virginia has drastically increased its drunk driving enforcement campaign in order to punish would-be violators. As such, more and more DUI checkpoints have been set up and traffic stops have increased. Ultimately, this means that the risk of you being caught when you drink and drive is much greater than it was 10 years ago.

DUI Charges Despite Low BAC Levels

One of the fundamental tools a police officer uses to determine whether a driver is drunk is a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer essentially tests the amount of alcohol in your breath and determines your blood alcohol content based on that. In Virginia, the legal BAC limit for adults is 0.08. This means that if you blow a BAC of 0.08 or higher, you’ll be charged with a DUI. However, blowing below 0.08 doesn’t necessarily exonerate you from charges. In some cases, officers reserve the right to charge and arrest you under suspicion of drunk driving despite the results of your breathalyzer test. These cases include violation of the following:

  • Zero Tolerance Laws. These laws focus primarily on underage drinkers and specifically address criminal punishments for operating motor vehicles under the influence of any amount of alcohol. For instance, if you’re 20 years old and driving with a BAC of 0.03, you can be charged with a DUI.
  • Noticeable Impairment. Virginia laws not only take into account the amount of alcohol drivers have consumed, but also how that alcohol affects their abilities. Alcohol tolerance varies from person to person. No matter what your tolerance, if you exhibit noticeable impairment while driving or an officer witnesses dulled senses, you can be charged with a DUI even if you blow a BAC below the legal limit.
  • Passage of Time Rule. The passage of time allows officers to charge drivers with a DUI if their BAC is near the legal limit (0.07). The assumption is that when the driver began his drive, he was legally drunk, but by the time the officer pulled him over his BAC lowered to a legal level.

We’ve Got Your “BAC”

If you’ve recently been charged with a DUI or DWI offense even though your BAC was below the legal limit, call us today. Our exceptional skills and experience will help you build a strong and reliable DUI defense. Contact us today at 703-865-6610. We’ll have your back.

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Darwyn L. Easley
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Attorney and Counsellor at Law

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Easley Law Firm

  • 10521 Judicial Drive
    Suite 205

    Fairfax, VA 22030
  • Phone: 703-865-6610
  • Fax: 703-842-6101
  • Toll Free: 888-386-3898
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