Can police arrest drivers with a BAC lower than 0.08?

It was fairly recently that the United States adopted the blood alcohol content limit of 0.08 for determining if a driver operates a vehicle under the influence. However, some politicians are presently moving to make the limit even lower. While it may seem harsh, many countries have already adopted lower BAC limits for drivers.

While the BAC limit for drunk driving in the United States still stands at 0.08 for most people, there are instances where police can arrest individuals with a BAC lower than 0.08. It is for this reason that it is always recommended for drivers to operate a car with a BAC of 0.00.

Teenagers and commercial drivers

There are specific demographics who must always drive with no alcohol in their bloodstream. A zero-tolerance policy is in place for anyone under the age of 21. Since it is not legal for teenagers to purchase alcohol, they cannot drive a car with any alcohol in their system even if it is lower than 0.08. Similarly, people who operate commercial vehicles, such as truck drivers, cannot drive with a BAC higher than 0.04. Occasionally, one drink is all it takes for someone to have a BAC higher than 0.04, so when people are on the job, they should never consume alcohol before driving.

Drivers who pose a danger to others

For drivers who do not fall within one of the above categories, they can still face a DUI even with a BAC under the legal limit. This most often occurs when the driver clearly poses a threat to others. For example, if a police officer pulls over a driver who has a child in the backseat, then the officer may arrest the driver if he or she has consumed any alcohol recently. Another example would be an office noticing a driver swerving severely between lanes. Alcohol affects everyone differently, so someone with a BAC of 0.05 could still feel intoxicated and not be in any condition to drive.


Posted in DWI

Probable Cause: When Police Only Suspect A DWI

When you envision law enforcement officers arresting someone for DWI, you may imagine the police physically seeing a car swerving in the road. While that is the case for many of these incidents, an officer can indeed arrest someone without seeing the driver actually endanger anyone. One notorious example occurred when police tracked down a car that received a complaint from another driver, and the officers located 30 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle.

Many drivers get behind the wheel of a car after a few drinks, believing they can make it back home without catching the attention of law enforcement. However, there are instances where police can arrest drivers on suspicion of DWI due to probable cause.

What constitutes probable cause?

A police officer does not necessarily have to see you driving if there is sufficient probable cause to suggest you drove a vehicle while intoxicated at some point. For example, you may drink some alcohol and instead of driving the entire way home, you pull off to the side of the road to sleep it off. In the middle of the night, you awake to a knocking on the window. While speaking, the officer realizes you have the undeniable odor of alcohol on your breath. Since your car is on the side of the road, he or she deduces you drove while drunk and arrests you. This scenario may hold up in court because there is enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt to suggest you drove while drunk.

Circumstantial evidence

Police can also use circumstantial evidence to determine if you were intoxicated and operated a vehicle recently, even if you were in a parked car. For example, if the car has warm tires or a warm engine, then the officer can deduce the car was in motion recently. Even something minor such as the keys being in the ignition can be enough proof to establish probable cause.



Posted in DWI

How To Avoid A DWI During the Holidays

Holidays are opportunities for kicking back and having a few drinks. However, when you end up having a bit too much to drink and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of hurting yourself and others. Authorities in Springfield often set up additional drunk-driver checkpoints during holiday times when drivers are leaving parties and more likely to exceed the Missouri state limit of having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.
It is important for you to understand how you can enjoy the holiday season and social events without getting a DWI on your record. Keeping a couple simple tips in mind can make the difference between an accident or arrest and getting home safely.
Being aware of checkpoints and saturation patrols
Law enforcement authorities often use drunk driving checkpoints to raise public awareness about drunk driving and to try to deter people who have had too much to drink from getting on the road. In 2017, however, the Missouri government proposed reduced funding for these checkpoints as part of a larger budget bill. This brought up the question of whether checkpoints are less effective than so-called saturation patrols.
Saturation patrols are when four or more officers work in a concentrated effort in one area to deter drunk driving. Its supporters say that checkpoints are ineffective because word quickly spreads once one is set up, thus defeating the purpose. Knowing that saturation patrols may be more widely used can help you understand the increased risks of getting a DWI.
Staying within the legal limit
In Missouri, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08 percent. In practical terms, however, it may be confusing to understand how many drinks that actually translates to. Several factors play a role in determining your BAC, and as such, the best advice is not to get behind the wheel if you have anything to drink. If you miscalculate and take the risk of driving while over the legal limit, the authorities may place you under arrest. During a stop, police officers will make their own observations about your sobriety or lack thereof. Officers take several other factors into consideration besides the test of your blood alcohol limit. This means it may not be effective to try to gauge how many drinks will keep you below the legal limit.
It is never safe to take a risk in getting behind the wheel if you have had any alcohol to drink. The authorities know that many people do so during the holidays, however. That being the case, if the police stop you at a checkpoint and you have had too much alcohol, remain courteous and polite. If they place you under arrest, you may wish to seek professional advice from an attorney with experience handling DWI cases.


Posted in DWI