It is common knowledge that every U.S. state has now implemented laws which state that driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level over .08% means you can be convicted of a DUI (some states use the term DWI, but they are generally interchangeable). Because modern technology has given police officers the ability to measure BAC on the spot via breathalyzers and other devices, it can be easy to mistakenly assume that BAC levels are the be-all, end-all of DUI law. In Pennsylvania, you still may be convicted of a DUI even if your tested for a BAC below .08%, and thus it is important to get experienced criminal defense in your DUI matter even if you have registered a lower BAC but have still been arrested.
Pennsylvania Has Two DUI General Impairment Provisions
Section 3802 of the PA Vehicle Code covers the crime of DUI. Section 3802(a)(2), which deals with “General Impairment” and provides the language that most people think of when with regard to DUI:
An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath is at least 0.08% but less than 0.10% within two hours after the individual has driven, operated or been in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.
But the first section of the law on General Impairment at Section 3802(a)(1) provides a definition of DUI which includes no language on BAC at all:
An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.
To be clear, a person can be convicted under this section so long as they have imbibed “a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving…” What this means is that, if you are, for lack of a better term, a “lightweight” (perhaps you don’t drink very often or you are taking a medication which doesn’t mix well with alcohol) you could conceivably be convicted of DUI even if you had only 1 or 2 drinks, so long as those drinks were sufficient to render you incapable of safely driving.
Defending You Against a Section 3802(a)(1) DUI Charge in PA
That said, while PA law does give prosecutors the ability to charge drivers with DUI even when their BAC was below .08%, this does make the prosecutor’s job harder, and an experienced DUI defense attorney can raise a number of arguments in your defense.
Remember that criminal charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for there to be a conviction. Which means that the arresting officer and/or prosecutors will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You were actually in physical control of the vehicle upon a highway or traffic way;
- That you had indeed imbibed alcohol;
- That you were incapable of safely driving; and
- That the alcohol was the reason for your incapability to drive safely
When you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Martin Law Firm, P.C. in Montgomery County, we will listen to your circumstances in a judgment-free manner and pursue every available option to defend your reputation and your rights.
Speak with a PA DUI 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.