You Can Face Drunk Driving Charges in Palm Beach Even If Your BAC Was Under the Legal Limit

Florida Statute 316.193 defines three ways a driver may be found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI). You may be found guilty of DUI and face the legal consequences of violating the law if you:

  1. Are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and your normal faculties are impaired
  2. Have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood
  3. Have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of breath

Blood-alcohol and breath-alcohol levels are lower for commercial drivers and drivers younger than 21. Commercial drivers may be charged with drunk driving if they have a blood alcohol content  (BAC) of 0.04% or higher, and underage drivers may face drunk driving charges if they have a BAC of 0.02% or higher.

Accordingly, you may be arrested and convicted of drunk driving even if your BAC is under the legal limit of 0.08%. If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, we encourage you to contact The Law Offices of Robert David Malove as soon as possible. Palm Beach DUI defense lawyer Robert Malove has been representing people charged with drunk driving since the mid-1980s and is a founding member of the National College for DUI Defense. We are ready to investigate your case and aggressively protect your legal rights.

Understand the Evidence in your Palm Beach DUI Case

If your BAC is under the legal limit of 0.08%, the police may arrest you, claiming that your normal faculties are impaired based on the following types of evidence:

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are designed to test a driver’s physical and cognitive abilities. Police officers may use the following tests to try to determine if you are intoxicated:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
  • Walk-and-Turn Test
  • One-Leg Stand Test

Police Officer Observations

Sometimes, police officers rely on what they see when they stop your vehicle and use that as a basis for a drunk driving arrest. Some observations they may use as a basis for your arrest include:

  • Erratic driving behavior such as swerving, speeding, or abrupt stops
  • Physical appearance, such as bloodshot eyes or a flushed face
  • Alcohol odor on your breath 
  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • Poor motor skills or coordination
  • Inconsistent or slow responses to questions
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Open containers of alcohol in the vehicle

Witness Statements

Other people’s observations may also provide relevant evidence, including:

  • Testimony from passengers or bystanders
  • Reports from other drivers
  • Statements from people you were with shortly before you were arrested

Video Evidence

Sometimes, video evidence shows how you drove immediately before you were stopped or your demeanor at the time of your arrest. This evidence may include:

  • Dashboard camera footage
  • Body camera footage
  • Surveillance videos from nearby businesses or traffic cameras

Drunk Driving Penalties 

If you are convicted of drunk driving with a BAC under 0.08%, you face the same potential penalties as you would if your BAC was over 0.08%. The penalties for a first DUI in Palm Beach may include:

  • Fines ranging from $500 - $2,000
  • Probation or jail time of up to 12 months
  • Required participation in DUI school
  • Loss of driving privileges for six months to one year
  • Required use of an ignition interlock system
  • Community service

Additionally, you may pay significantly more in car insurance when you can drive again.

Second and subsequent drunk driving convictions carry more significant penalties.

A DUI Arrest Is Not the Same as a Conviction

You are presumed innocent until you are proven guilty. The state’s case against you is often more challenging to prove when your BAC is lower than 0.08%. However, assuming prosecutors can’t prove their case is a mistake. You have too much at stake to take that risk. Instead, we encourage you to contact our South Florida drunk driving defense attorneys. Our experienced Palm Beach DUI defense lawyers will consider all of the evidence described above to determine if the state can prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt and to make sure your rights are protected.