You take a breath test after a traffic stop and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) turns out to be .07%. You know that the legal limit is .08%. Does this mean that you cannot get arrested on OWI charges for driving while impaired?

It does not. If you were impaired, you can face OWI charges even under the legal limit. All that the legal limit does is provide officers with a tool they can use to prove impairment. It is not the only one they have at their disposal.

For instance, maybe the traffic stop happened because you caused a minor accident and tried to run from the scene. The officer also had you do field sobriety tests, and you did not pass them.

By the time they got you to the station, your BAC was just .07%, but the officer may argue that causing the accident, fleeing the scene and failing the sobriety tests all indicated that you were impaired. Depending on how long it took them to get you to the station, they may also claim that you were probably over .08% at the time of the crash. They may even say that’s why you tried to run. They can argue that your BAC simply dropped under the limit between the crash and the breath test.

False assumptions about OWI charges are common, and many people have no idea that they can still face charges if they do not fail the breath test outright. Make sure you actually know how you can get an OWI and exactly what legal options you have to build a strong defense.