When do standard BAC limits not apply to a DUI arrest?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | DUI

Driving under the influence (DUI) charges are among the most common criminal allegations filed against people in Pennsylvania. Drivers can get arrested if they encounter a sobriety checkpoint, if they end up involved in a crash or if a police officer pulls them over for poor driving. According to state law, most motorists are at risk of arrest if they demonstrate compromised ability at the wheel or if testing shows that they are over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

For most drivers, their BAC must be 0.08% or higher for the state to charge them with a DUI based on chemical test results. However, there are some scenarios in which people could face criminal charges despite having lower BAC test results. When could someone get arrested for a BAC that is less than the standard legal limit?

When they are not old enough to drink

Alcohol compromises cognitive ability and tends to lead to addiction. Therefore, the state limits access to alcohol for those who are not yet 21 years of age. Rules about alcohol are particularly important for young drivers. They lack the experience at the wheel necessary to have optimal control over a vehicle, so alcohol impairment can be especially dangerous for younger motorists. Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance rule for alcohol use among drivers under the age of 21. Chemical test results showing a BAC of 0.02% can be enough to justify the arrest and prosecution of an underage driver.

When they are operating a commercial vehicle

There are many kinds of commercial vehicles present on Pennsylvania roads. Some people drive semi-trucks for a living. Others may operate school buses or delivery vehicles for package delivery companies. Anyone operating a commercial vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is subject to a stricter limit on their BAC than the average adult of legal drinking age. Someone operating a bus or semi-truck could face DUI charges if their BAC is 0.04% or higher. They are also at risk of becoming ineligible for their CDL.

DUI charges often rely largely on chemical test results and other evidence gathered during a traffic stop. Drivers who understand how this state builds a case can put together a criminal defense strategy when responding to DUI charges. Raising questions about the accuracy of test results is a common defense strategy among those accused of a DUI offense.

FindLaw Network