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Can you be arrested for DWI if your BAC is below the legal limit?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2021 | Criminal Defense

This past Memorial Day weekend may have been filled with fun times until, when the party is over and you are on your way home, you are pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. Because drunk driving in New Jersey has such significant consequences, even for a first offense, it is good to have a basic understanding of New Jersey drunk driving laws.

DWI per se and DWI

As you may already know, if you drive with a blood-alcohol level at or above the legal limit of 0.08%, you can be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) without any further evidence of intoxication being necessary for the arrest. This is known as DWI per se. However, in New Jersey you can be arrested even if your BAC is below the legal limit if the arresting officer believes your ability to drive is impaired due to alcohol use. Generally, evidence used for such an arrest includes police observation and field sobriety tests.

How a BAC of 0.08% impacts your driving ability

It is easy for most of us to see how a BAC of 0.08% can affect our driving ability. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at a BAC of 0.08% your concentration is impaired, and you may experience short-term memory loss. You may find it difficult to control your speed, your ability to process information is reduced and your perception is impaired. Any of these effects can make it impossible to drive safely.

How a BAC of 0.05% impacts your driving ability

However, what if you only had a few drinks and your BAC is a mere 0.05%. Can this affect your driving ability? Possibly. According to the NHTSA, if you have a BAC of 0.05%, it can negatively affect your coordination and ability to respond to emergency situations on the road. In addition, your ability to track moving objects is reduced and steering your vehicle may become more difficult. While some people can safely drive with a BAC of 0.05%, the police may disagree.

Learn more about DWI in New Jersey

It may seem unfair that you could be arrested for DWI if your BAC is below the legal limit, but it is a possibility you should be aware of. This way, if you find yourself facing charges of DWI, you can prepare a strong criminal defense strategy. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Those in New Jersey who want to learn more about their criminal defense options may find our firm’s website to be a useful resource.