Blow Under .08 On A Breathalyzer? You Could Still Be Charged With DUI

Have you ever heard of a ‘low blow?’ Although the traditional definition can mean anything from striking your opponent below the waist to unsportsmanlike behavior, it also means blowing below the legal blood alcohol limit of .08 on a breathalyzer test. You might think that if you blow below .08 you’ll be safe if you are stopped on suspicion for driving under the influence (DUI), but these low blows are netting some individuals a DUI conviction in places like Washington State and Oregon.

All states in the USA have a standard legal blood alcohol limit of .08, but most people probably don’t realize that you don’t have to blow a .08 on a breathalyzer to be convicted of DUI. Motorists with a lower blood alcohol content can be prosecuted and convicted if law enforcement can prove they were too impaired to drive when stopped.

A recent conviction in Portland, Oregon is a great example of a driver who thought they’d walk away from a drunk driving conviction.  A resident failed three field sobriety tests and answered his cell phone when talking to officers, but he only blew .07 on the breathalyzer test. After only a two-day trial, the jury unanimously convicted him of driving under the influence.

The increase in medical marijuana use is one of the reasons why police are cracking down on drinking drivers even though they blow below the legal limit. Breathalyzers don’t pick up drugs during the test, but marijuana use coupled with alcohol use can cause levels of intoxication that make it impossible to drive a vehicle properly.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also working to spread the message that you don’t have to blow .08 on a breathalyzer to be charged with DUI. Their campaign ‘Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving’ asks people to not drive after drinking alcohol, period. Even one drink could make the difference between getting home safely and a DUI conviction.