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Does blowing less than .08 on a Breathalyzer mean no arrest?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | DUI

You’re absolutely certain that you didn’t drink enough to actually be impaired, or you never would have gotten behind the wheel of your vehicle. Unfortunately, the officer who stopped you doesn’t seem to agree. The next thing you know, you’re being asked to take a Breathalyzer test.

You know that a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 is the legal limit for drivers, so you’re relieved when you only blow .06 – but you shouldn’t be. That’s still plenty for an officer to decide that there is probable cause for an arrest. Instead of being sent on your way, you’re probably going to end up in handcuffs. 

You can be impaired with a BAC of less than .08

People often misunderstand the .08 rule, thinking that it means that anything less than that amount is automatically okay. Instead, a BAC of .08 is considered “per se” evidence of intoxication. Even if you seem entirely sober to a casual observer, you’re legally intoxicated once your BAC reaches .08 or above.

If you’re under the per se limit, you can still be arrested for drunk driving if the officer determines, based on their investigation, that you are mentally or physically incapable of driving safely. This is spelled out in state law.

It’s important to remember that officers rely a lot on their own observations when they’re deciding whether to arrest someone for drunk driving, so everything from your demeanor to the way you move or talk can be construed as “evidence” of impairment. 

Just because you’re arrested for drunk driving, it doesn’t mean the arrest is valid – nor that conviction is a foregone conclusion. If you learn more about your defense options, that can help you make informed choices moving forward.