It is common knowledge that Pennsylvania, like many other states, has instituted a DUI law which makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your BAC is .08% or above. Thus, if the police legally stop your car and measure your BAC to be above .08%, then they generally have valid justification to arrest you for DUI (although numerous defenses exist). But what if your BAC is below .08%? Does this mean you that are automatically in the clear? In Pennsylvania, the answer is no.
People Have Varying Degrees of Alcohol Tolerance
People react differently to alcohol, and we all know from anecdotal evidence that one person who ingests three or four alcoholic drinks may exhibit little to no difference from when they are sober, while another who drinks that same amount might experience a fundamental change in motor abilities. This is especially the case for people with a low tolerance for alcohol and/or who rarely drink. The fact of the matter is that two adult men who consume this amount of drinks over 90 minutes may well be below the 0.08% BAC level, but that does not mean that the police cannot arrest a driver who is driving erratically due to alcohol.
The Police Can Arrest You for “Substantial Impairment”
Under PA. Cons. Stat. § 3802(a)(1), it is a crime to drive, operate, or be in control of a vehicle if you are rendered incapable of safely doing so due to imbibing a “sufficient amount of alcohol.” The law does not specify how much alcohol is required or designate a specific BAC, thus giving officers and prosecutors more leeway in charging a person with DUI.
That said, the PA courts have ruled that the prosecution must prove that there was a “substantial impairment” in the driver’s ability to operate the car due to the alcohol, which courts have further described as a diminution in a driver’s ability to “exercise judgment, to deliberate or to react prudently to changing circumstances and conditions.” An experienced criminal defense attorney can work with you to rebut such arguments in a DUI case brought pursuant to this section of PA law.
Speak with a PA Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, we are committed to defending your rights. Call us today for a free consultation with a PA criminal defense attorney today regarding your DUI arrest.