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Can I Be Arrested for DUI With BAC Below 0.08?


Driving under the influence (DUI) carries stiff penalties in the state of Idaho. When determining whether or not a driver is DUI, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is often used as a decisive factor. Idaho maintains 0.08 as the legal limit for BAC. Drivers who have BAC above 0.08 are presumed to be drunk and arrested for DUI.

Most drivers think that BAC is the only factor that determines whether or not they are charged with DUI. However, you may be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below 0.08. This is because BAC is one of the many factors that are considered when a DUI arrest is made. And if one or more of the other factors hint that you are drunk, you may be charged with DUI.

Here are some of the key factors that can lead to a DUI arrest even if your BAC is below 0.08.

Age Bracket

The legal BAC limit of 0.08 is often thought of as a standard that applies to everyone. That is not the case. The legal limit is different for drivers under 21 as well as commercial drivers. If you are under 21, the legal BAC limit for you is 0.02. Similarly, commercial drivers must have a BAC below 0.04 or they will be considered DUI. For drivers under 21, the legal limit is so low that virtually any amount of alcohol may lead to a DUI arrest if identified by an officer.

Signs of Impairment

Even if your BAC is above the legal limit, an officer may identify signs of impairment and then base your DUI arrest on these signs. This is legally tenable because the law deems it unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle under the influence.

The words ‘under the influence’ can be interpreted to cover any visible signs of impairment. Common signs of impairment identified and flagged by police officers include odor of alcohol, unclear or slurred speech, a sense of disorientation in the driver, the presence of open alcohol containers in the vehicle, or red and watery eyes.

The presence of one or more symptoms is enough for an officer to presume you are drunk. An officer may then arrest you for DUI based on these symptoms. However, you can fight this with the help of a good Boise DUI attorney.

Refusal to Submit a Breath Sample

You can refuse to blow into a breathalyzer when stopped by a police officer on suspicion of DUI. However, the implied consent law of Idaho requires you to submit a breathe sample when arrested for DUI. If you refuse the sample, this may be seen as an admission of guilty by a jury. The jury will also need an officer’s testimony in such a case. If the officer had sufficient cause to think you were impaired despite the lack of a breath sample, the jury may rely on other signs of impairment to decide whether or not to charge you.

Admission of Guilt

If your BAC didn’t exceed the limit and even the signs of impairment were absent but you admitted to being drunk, this may be used as evidence for DUI arrest. In this scenario as well, the arresting officer will have to demonstrate that you were sufficiently drunk to be operating the vehicle in a dangerous manner.

Common Defenses to Being Arrested for DUI Under BAC Limit

If you have been arrested for DUI despite the fact that you were under the legal limit, the officer’s testimony against you is the most important part of evidence. This testimony typically relies on the presence of signs of impairment. An attorney defending you can cross-examine the officer’s testimony. If it can be somehow demonstrated that the office didn’t have sufficient grounds to presume you are drunk, any evidence gathered thereafter may not be admissible. This is the case in many DUI arrests where the defendant’s attorneys are able to have subsequent evidence suppressed on these grounds.

Hire a Qualified Boise DUI Attorney if You’ve Been Arrested for DUI

If you have been charged with DUI in Boise, it is important to hire a qualified attorney to defend you. Idaho has harsh penalties for a DUI charge and once sentenced, the charge becomes a part of your criminal record. It also affects your insurance standing and employment prospects.

A Boise DUI Guy can help you fight the charge effectively. If the charge rests entirely on circumstantial evidence, especially when your BAC was under legal limit at the time of arrest, the attorney may be able to have the charges scrapped altogether.

Here at Boise DUI, our attorneys work with you to prepare a strong defense to a DUI charge. We also help you seek alternative options such as community service to prevent a sentence. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.