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A 0.07% does not mean no DUI

A common misconception about DUI laws in Pennsylvania -- and elsewhere -- is that you cannot get arrested if you do not go over the legal limit. You even have people who bring store-bought breath tests with them to the bar so that they can check their own BAC (blood alcohol concentration) before they get in the car. If they blow a 0.07%, knowing that the limit is 0.08%, they think they are safe.

That's not how it works. Let's break that down on a few levels.

Inaccurate tests

First, before anyone goes out and orders a breath test on Amazon, please note that these tests are often inaccurate. The authorities have a very specific type of test they use. They calibrate it and check it often. They have training sessions to learn how to use them. You cannot trust your personal device and you can't use those results in court. If it said you were under the legal limit and the police said you weren't, that self-reading is not going to help you in any way.

Under 0.08% DUIs

Next, even if the police agree that you came in under the legal limit, that does not mean you do not get a DUI. You can get arrested, charged and convicted even without breaking the legal limit.

For example, the police officers really only have to notice that you suffered from some level of impairment. If they can show that you clearly did, and you had been drinking, that violates the law. Impaired driving is illegal.

Maybe they have you on camera drifting all over the road. When the officers talk to you, they say that you're driving poorly and they smell alcohol. They give you a test and it comes back at 0.07%. Now they know you did consume alcohol and they can use the other facts to establish impairment.

Another way that they do this is by looking at how long has gone by between the test and the stop. Your BAC drops over time. Say that they do not have a breath test, but they arrest you because of your driving and the fact that you failed field sobriety tests. It takes two hours to get you back to the station and perform the test. If you come in at 0.07% at that point, they know you must have been well over it when they initially stopped you.

Your rights

As you can see, buying into this line of thinking about the legal limit can lead to some rather surprising results. Make sure you actually know what the law says, what defense options you have and what steps you need to take.

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