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Can I Still Be Charged for DWI if Under the Legal BAC Limit?

 Posted on November 16, 2023 in Criminal Law

Tarrant County criminal defense lawyerDrivers under the legal drinking age and, in some cases, drivers over 21 can still find themselves charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is not the only factor that an officer looks at to determine whether or not a driver receives a DWI charge. An attorney with DWI knowledge and the associated penalties can help defend your rights and figure out the best course of action for your case.

What is Per se Intoxication?

When a driver has a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, it is automatically presumed that the person is intoxicated. This is what is referred to as per se intoxication. Drivers with a BAC of less than 0.08 percent are not necessarily out of the woods yet, as the legal limit is not the only factor determining a DWI charge. However, a driver is no longer automatically presumed to be intoxicated. Instead, an officer will need to use other methods to determine whether or not the driver is or appears to be intoxicated.

What Other Factors Are Involved With a DWI Charge?

Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for intoxicated drivers under 21 years of age. No measure of alcohol content is considered acceptable when it comes to minors, behind the wheel, or otherwise. Presumption of intoxication is not the only reason for a DWI charge. The level of impairment can be measured through other criteria, such as:

  • How a driver handles a field sobriety test
  • Basic observations by the arresting officer

So, even if a driver has a BAC below 0.08 percent, they can still be charged with a DWI by failing the other criteria an officer imposes during the traffic stop. Failing to submit to a breathalyzer test will also subject you to an automatic 180-day suspension of your driver’s license.

DWI is Not Just For Alcohol

In Texas, a DWI charge can include other forms of intoxication, such as drugs. Regardless of which one you appear impaired by you can still be arrested and charged with a DWI. For this reason, the field sobriety test and subjective observations by the officer will further come into play and be used as evidence against you.

Contact a Tarrant County, TX Criminal Defense Attorney

Being arrested and charged for DWI may seem unfair if you are below the BAC limit. It is always possible you could have been extremely fatigued, but it may have come off as intoxication to the observing officer. In any case, you should contact a Dallas, TX DWI defense lawyer immediately. The Law Office of Michelle Poblenz has over 25 years of legal experience that can be used to help defend you against your charges. Contact the firm at 469-845-3031 to schedule an appointment immediately.

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