Being charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) can have severe consequences, including losing your driver's license, hefty fines, and even imprisonment. One of the critical factors in determining the severity of a DUI charge is the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest. In this blog, we will explore the role of BAC in DUI arrests and how it can impact your defense strategy with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.
What is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) measures the concentration of alcohol in a person's bloodstream. It is typically expressed as a percentage, with a higher percentage indicating a higher level of intoxication. A BAC of 0.08% or higher in the United States is considered legally intoxicated for drivers over 21. For drivers under 21, the legal limit is lower, usually 0.02% or 0.00%, depending on the state.
How is BAC Measured?
There are several methods for measuring BAC, including breath tests, blood tests, and urine tests. Breath tests, such as the Breathalyzer, are the most commonly used method by law enforcement officers during a DUI stop. These devices measure the amount of alcohol in your breath and convert it to an estimated BAC level. While breath tests are less invasive than blood or urine tests, they can be less accurate and are subject to a variety of factors that can impact the results, such as calibration errors or the presence of mouth alcohol.
How Does BAC Affect DUI Arrests and Penalties?
The legal BAC limit is just one factor that can lead to a DUI arrest. Even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be arrested for DUI if the officer believes you are impaired due to alcohol or drugs. However, having a BAC above the legal limit can lead to more severe penalties if convicted of a DUI.
Some common penalties for DUI convictions based on BAC levels include:
- Low BAC: If your BAC is below the legal limit, but the officer believes you are impaired, you may still face DUI charges. Penalties for a quiet BAC DUI conviction include fines, probation, and alcohol education classes.
- High BAC: If your BAC is significantly above the legal limit (e.g., 0.15% or higher), you may face enhanced penalties, such as increased fines, longer jail sentences, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
- Repeat Offenders: If you have previous DUI convictions, the penalties for a subsequent DUI conviction will be more severe, regardless of your BAC level at the time of the arrest.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help with BAC-Related DUI Charges?
When facing DUI charges, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the intricacies of BAC testing and the potential defenses available to you is crucial. Some possible defense strategies related to BAC include:
- Challenging the accuracy of the breath test results due to calibration errors, improper administration, or other factors
- Arguing that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop or probable cause to arrest you for DUI
- Presenting evidence of a medical condition or other factors that may have impacted your BAC reading
Our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at DeGiacomo & Mikhlin, P.C. have extensive experience handling DUI cases involving complex BAC issues. We understand the importance of a thorough investigation and a strong defense strategy to protect your rights and minimize the impact of a DUI charge on your life.
Contact DeGiacomo & Mikhlin, P.C. today to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you navigate the legal process!