DUI Citations Issued Even When BAC Below Legal Limit

Many states have passed laws setting minimum blood alcohol content requirements for those who get behind the wheel of a car. For most states, including Arizona, anyone driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is over the legal limit. So, not surprisingly, many believe that a BAC lower than 0.08 in Arizona cannot lead to arrest. Unfortunately, as some drivers throughout the state are finding out, this is not true.

In Arizona, an officer has the ability to arrest drivers and charge them with a DUI in Arizona for any BAC as long as they have Probable Cause to believe that the alcohol impaired the driver's ability to drive to the slightest degree. The law specifically states that it is unlawful to drive if the influence of alcohol has resulted in even the "slightest degree" of impairment.


What This Means for Drivers in Arizona

Police officers do not focus on BAC readings alone. The decision to make an arrest is also influenced by:

  • Weaving or speed variations as signs of impairment while driving
  • Smell of alcohol on driver's breath or within the vehicle
  • Visual cues the officer witnesses while interacting
  • Problems producing documentation
  • Exiting from the vehicle
  • Perceived difficulties with the roadside balancing tests

The law is based on the various ways alcohol can impact an individual. Alcohol affects different people in different ways. A small woman, for instance, is more likely to become impaired by two drinks than a large man. Because of this difference, the law leaves an opening for interpretation. However, the arresting officer needs to be able to establish the driver was impaired.