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Under the legal limit and still getting a DUI

When you get pulled over, you admit to the officer that you had been drinking. After all, you feel fairly sure that you are well under the legal limit. The officer just pulled you over for running a stop sign. You don't think it's a problem.

The officer gives you a breath test, and it comes back at 0.05%. He or she decides to arrest you for drunk driving. You immediately feel stunned and confused. Can this actually happen if you're not over the legal limit of 0.08%?

It can. People often make the mistake of assuming they're not facing legal trouble if they don't go over 0.08%, but there are plenty of ways that you can still get a DUI. Here are three of them.

You looked drunk

Officers often make arrests based on noticeable impairment. This basically just means that it looked like you were driving drunk. The alcohol in your system made you unsafe to others on the road. Even if you don't quite break that legal limit, they can still argue that you were impaired. All that the 0.08% limit does is show the court that you were definitely impaired. They can argue that you were even if you blew below that limit. Impaired driving is what the law really prohibits.

You were under 21

If you were drinking underage, the 0.08% rule does not apply to you in Florida. As common as this assumption is, the limit for underage drinkers is 0.02%. This is known as a "zero tolerance" law because it means that having almost any alcohol can lead to a DUI arrest.

As you can imagine, the idea here is that someone who is under 21 shouldn't drink at all. Doing so is illegal. Therefore, driving even after a single drink also becomes illegal. Do not assume that the 0.08% limit will protect you.

Time passed

Finally, you may have to think about how much time went by. Sometimes, the authorities can argue that the passage of time means you were over the legal limit while driving, even if you were not at the time of the test.

Say that they got delayed for some reason and couldn't give you the test for two hours. After that, you still blew a 0.07%. They know that your BAC dropped for the last two hours, and they can infer that it had to be at least 0.08% -- and probably notably higher -- when they pulled you over.

Your options

As you can see, you could get a DUI with any BAC, even if you didn't know you were at risk. When this happens, it is important to understand the law and your legal defense options.

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