Serving The Grand Rapids Community For More Than 20 Years

Call Us Today 616-426-9609

Does the legal limit protect you from an OWI?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

When the police give you a breath test, they’re measuring the amount of alcohol in your blood. This is known as your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and there’s a legal limit of 0.08%. If the police pull you over and find that you are over this percentage, they can then presume that you are impaired by the alcohol you’ve consumed. You can be arrested due to that impairment.

People sometimes believe that the legal limit works in both directions. If you’re over the limit, then you know that the police are going to give you an OWI charge. But if you’re under the legal limit, then it’s impossible for them to charge you because you haven’t broken the law. Is this true?

You can still be arrested for impairment

That is actually not how the legal limit works. It is just an upper limit which means that the court can presume impairment. But what is really illegal is the impairment itself. And, as the law in Michigan states explicitly “drivers can be arrested at any BAC level if they exhibit signs of impairment while operating a motor vehicle.”

In other words, maybe a police officer saw you swerving within your lane and felt like that was an indication that you were impaired. Just because your BAC is 0.07% doesn’t mean they won’t – or can’t – arrest you. They still can, but they’ll just have to use other evidence – and not a breath test – to prove impairment. It’s important to understand that you can still face arrest, and to know about all the legal options that you have.