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Can I be charged with a DUI if my BAC is less than the legal limit?

Most people know that drivers above a certain blood alcohol content (BAC) cannot legally operate a vehicle on California’s roadways. You may think that you cannot be in legal trouble if your BAC is lower than the legal limit, but that is not necessarily the case. What should drivers know?

What does California law say about the influence of alcohol?

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152, most drivers cannot operate a vehicle if they have a BAC of more than 0.08 percent. However, some drivers — those operating large commercial vehicles or those under the legal drinking age, for example — may face stricter limits based on their circumstances.

California law also includes a much more flexible provision: driving while “under the influence” of alcohol is illegal. This wording in the law allows officers to use their discretion to determine whether a driver below the legal limit could be considered impaired. As one example, the police may arrest someone with a lower BAC if they believe that a driver would have been over the legal limit when they got behind the wheel. Officers may also say that a driver with a lower BAC was noticeably impaired by the amount of alcohol in their system.

How can you defend yourself against this accusation?

Some arrests come down to the officer’s perception of a driver’s level of impairment. As a result, it can be crucial for drivers to speak to an attorney to help make their voice heard. Your attorney can help highlight evidence to defend you against this accusation and may be able to call into question the field sobriety tests used by the officer. With help, you can build a strong defense that protects you from the impact of this accusation.

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