Q: What is the legal limit for blood toxicity?
A: Generally, it’s illegal for someone to drive while impaired by illicit substances or alcohol. However, that does not mean that prescription drugs are excluded. Driving while impaired is defined as a state where you’ve drunk or used enough alcohol or drugs, respectively, to the point where your brain prevents you from critical reasoning and driving safely. Many studies believe impairment occurs to a lot of individuals way before they think they’re drunk or high.
From an objective standpoint, if your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or higher and you began driving on the road, you would be Driving Under the Influence (DUI), or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). For people under 21, the legal drinking age in the United States, in practically every state you will be considered driving under the influence if your blood alcohol content is greater than 0.1% or 0.2%, subject to which state you live.
Q: How do police determine a driver is under the influence?
A: Police typically have three different methods to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol:
- Evidence of reckless driving – Usually, a police officer will pull you over if they see that you are showing symptoms of driving under the influence. These signs may be swerving, speeding, driving too slowly, refusing to stop, failing to yield, and similar indications that tell an officer you’re driving while impaired. However, if you have a valid reason as to why you were driving that way, an officer will likely let you go with either a ticket or warning. If you’re pulled over an officer will usually be looking at your eyes and will see if they can smell alcohol on your breath.
- Field Sobriety Tests – If you’re pulled over, and an officer believes you’re driving under the influence, they may ask you to exit your vehicle to complete field sobriety tests. Which may include walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, or a speech tests. The office will be observing your eyes for any pupil dilation or blurriness. If you failed one or more of the previous tests, you would likely be subject to a chemical test.
- Chemical Blood Alcohol Level Tests – If you’ve failed a field sobriety test, an officer will take you in to complete a blood alcohol level reading. These tests are typically done by testing blood, urine or breath sample. The blood test is straightforward and easily measures the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. The urine and breath tests are completed based on a mathematical formula that determines your blood alcohol content from a sample. If your reading states above a 0.08% blood alcohol level, you will receive a DUI unless you manage to convince the judge that you weren’t impaired or driving unsafely. Keep in mind; several lawyers build a drunk driving defense by challenging the mathematical formula used in the tests.