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I Blew Under .08 Why am I Charged with DUI?

I Blew Under .08 Why am I Charged with DUI?

what?It’s an all to common story, “I blew into the breathalyzer machine as instructed by law enforcement and my BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) result was under the legal limit of .08, and I was arrested for DUI.  I blew under the legal limit of .08, and now I am charged with DUI. What!?”

It’s unfair but true. In Washington State you can still be charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) while having a DUI breath test result under the legal limit of .08.

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.502 defines a driver as being guilty of DUI if the person drives a vehicle within this state “while under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor..” Affected by intoxicating liquor!? What does this mean? It means the law enforcement officer that is investigating a person for driving drunk may use their discretion to decide if that person’s driving was affected by alcohol at any BAC level and if they decide their driving was affected then they may arrest that person for DUI.  The reasoning behind this is; every person reacts differently to alcohol and less amounts may “affect” a person’s ability to drive even while having a test result under the DUI limits.

Unfortunately, a person charged with DUI with a breath test under the legal limit will still face the same penalties of a person with a breath test ranging from .08 to .15 with all other factors being similar. Thus, a DUI charge with a breath test under the legal limit should be taken just as seriously as a DUI case with a breath test above the legal limit.

In my personal and professional opinion I don’t believe any driver should be charged with DUI if that person blew under the legal limit, unless something extraordinary happened; such as a car accident etc. It’s very misleading when Washington State advertises that drinking and driving is illegal if your BAC is .08 or above.  The State should be more responsible and honest about drunk driving and change their advertising.  The State should properly inform everyone that they could be charged with DUI at any BAC level if they drove after consuming any alcohol and their driving was affected.

I have represented several people charged with DUI while blowing under the legal limit. Fortunately for those clients we were able to resolve all those cases very well!

DUI Physical and Behavior Signs that Cops are Looking For

DUI Physical and Behavior Signs that Cops are Looking For

Every time a law enforcement officer pulls a driver over they will be closely watching that individual for any physical or behavior signs that may indicate DUI (driving under the influence) of alcohol and/or drugs.  Police officers are trained to look for these specific DUI physical and behavioral signs and will note these observed signs in their police report.

Here are the DUI physical and behavioral signs law enforcement officers look for prior to a DUI arrest:

  • Odor of alcohol and/or drugs coming from the vehicle.
  • Odor of alcohol and/or drugs coming from the driver’s breath.
  • Alcohol container or drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle.
  • A flushed or red face.
  • Eyes that are watery, bloodshot, and/or glassy.
  • A messy appearance, soiled clothes, and/or messy hair.
  • Muffled or slurred speech.
  • Inability to understand the officer’s questions.
  • Inability to answer the officer’s questions.
  • An inappropriate attitude with the officer (aggressiveness, irritability, sobbing, and/or crying)
  • Difficulty retrieving their wallet, driver’s license, and/or car insurance.
  • Difficulty getting out of their vehicle.
  • Lack of balance and coordination.
  • Swaying while standing still.
  • Using their vehicle for support.
  • Inability to follow directions.
  • No knowledge of time, day, or current location.

If the officer observes some of these DUI physical and behavioral signs they will likely ask the driver to perform DUI field sobriety tests and to blow into the portable breathalyzer.  Both tests are voluntary, meaning the driver can choose to take the test or choose not to take the tests.  The attorneys at David O Defense always recommend REFUSING to take the DUI field sobriety tests or the portable breath test.  Learn more about refusing to take the field sobriety tests by reading our previous blog, “Will I Get in Trouble if I Refuse to Take the DUI Field Sobriety Tests?

If pulled over by a law enforcement officer and they suspect you are driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, ask to speak with your attorney immediately.  Give the attorneys at David O Defense a call, 206-459-6392.

DUI and criminal defense lawyers, David O Defense, Seattle Washington

Young Man Poses as Law Enforcement and Sets Up his own DUI Checkpoint

Crazy but true story out of Somerset, Pennsylvania where a young man pretended to be a State Trooper and set up a fake DUI checkpoint across state Route 601 at 4am in the morning.

According to the real Pennsylvania State Troopers, 19 year-old Logan Shualis, went to a lot of trouble to set the stage for his DUI checkpoint, including everything from; placing street  flairs in the road, parking his vehicle diagonally across the highway, dressing the part, and carrying a BB gun as if it were a real pistol.

One motorist who complied with the hokey DUI checkpoint said Shaulis claimed he was a PA State Trooper and required the driver to hand over his driver’s license, registration, and car insurance papers.

Logan’s hoax wasn’t convincing enough, suspicious drivers quickly notified law enforcement officials of the fake DUI checkpoint.  When the real state troopers arrived on scene, Shaulis tried to ditch his BB gun by giving it to the passenger in the car he had stopped at that time… saying, “I can’t get caught with this!”

fake State TrooperTo make matter’s worse for the young man, state troopers determined Shaulis was under the influence of alcohol during his DUI checkpoint charade.  State troopers also determined Shaulis must have driven drunk to the location where he set up his DUI checkpoint.  While Shaulis was under the influence of alcohol he was trying to arrest civilians for DUI as well – Crazy but true!

Logan’s checkpoint was shut down permanently and he was hauled off to jail.  He faces charges of DUI, impersonating a public servant, and unlawful restraint.

Luckily for us Washingtonions, we do not have to worry about DUI checkpoints, or fake ones for that matter!  However most States do allow for DUI checkpoints (aka sobriety checkpoints), so be careful while visiting the great states outside of Washington this summer!

States that do conduct DUI checkpoints include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.