After going out to eat with friends, you get in your car to drive home. You only had one or two beers and ate a full meal, so you don’t worry about drunk driving. But when a cop pulls you over and smells the alcohol on your breath, you find yourself arrested and blowing into a breath test machine. Should you be worried?
Like most states, Arizona limits blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 for drivers. Anyone who tests over this limit while behind the wheel can face DUI charges, leading to possible jail time, fines and license suspension. But are drivers under the limit still at risk of a conviction?
BAC tests can let courts presume guilt or innocence
Under Arizona law, courts can presume anyone who tests above the legal limit within two hours of driving was intoxicated. The driver’s defense would need to depend on the accuracy of the BAC test or mistakes in how the police handled the arrest. Likewise, if the BAC was below 0.05, the court cannot presume intoxication.
A BAC below the legal limit doesn’t always presume innocence
However, if your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08, other evidence from your arrest would need to tilt the charges one way or another. The judge won’t assume your guilt or innocence based on your BAC. Instead, the court wouldconsider evidence and testimony that you and the police provide.
Police testimony can make the difference between a conviction or dropped charges
When your BAC doesn’t prove your innocence, you must defend yourself against the testimony of the police. They may point to the results of a field sobriety check or your conduct when they pulled you over. Your conviction may end up based on their judgment of how you acted during your arrest.
A DUI has multiple penalties that can affect your life. But when you are below the legal BAC limit, you don’t expect to face those punishments. However, in Arizona, you may find yourself fighting against the evidence of an officer’s judgment.