BAC standards

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Limit Alcohol Consumption to Avoid an Arrest While Driving

The best way to avoid needing to hire a DWI lawyer in Springfield, Missouri is by abstaining from drinking or limiting your drinking before operating a vehicle. Blood alcohol content standards vary in each state, and it is your responsibility to understand how many servings of particular alcoholic beverages can put you over the legal limit. These standards of alcohol consumption have been determined by researchers and are accepted by government law officials as the level of intoxication that leads to impairment that can cause you to have a collision. Blood alcohol content is measured in the blood, and it is explained as a percentage. 

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Low Blow DUI Convictionspolice officer with breathalyzer - Missouri DUI

Most states have established the blood alcohol limit for DUI charges at .08 percent. If you’re asked to take a breathalyzer test and blow something below a .08, you might find yourself thinking that you’re off the hook. This is, however, not always the case.

Recent DUI cases in Washington and Oregon have seen convictions for drivers who were stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and delivered BAC readings below the .08 limit imposed by the states. In one case, an Oregon driver blew a .07 reading, but the officer pushed for DUI charges anyway, since the driver had failed several field sobriety tests before submitting to a breathalyzer test. The jury found him guilty despite the low reading.

In cases like these, the officer has to decide whether there are other factors beyond the blood alcohol content reading that indicate intoxicated driving. Most commonly, the justification for proceeding with a DUI charge in these cases is the inability of the breathalyzer to detect the presence of substances other than alcohol in the driver’s system. If a driver has been drinking and using marijuana or other drugs, a BAC reading of .07 combined with the effect of the other drugs could substantially impair their ability to drive beyond what would be equivalent to the .08 limit.

Officers need to gather enough evidence to suggest that you were too impaired to drive in these situations. Police don’t need to find drugs in your possession to prove that you had recently used them. A drug test may or may not be ordered, depending on whether there is enough evidence without it to justify a conviction. Failed field sobriety tests can contribute to the case against you, as well as any traffic violations or unsafe driving that was observed to cause the officer to stop you in the first place. Your behavior during the stop can also be used against you. In the Oregon case, the stopped driver interrupted police during a field sobriety test to take a call on his cell phone. Drivers who are rude or confrontational risk making the case against them stronger.

Even if the officer does not decide to issue DUI charges for a below-limit BAC reading, you can still face other fines and charges for how you were driving. If you were stopped for breaking any laws, you can expect to be issued a ticket for that. If your driving is considered unsafe by the officer, you might even be hit with charges of reckless driving or endangerment depending on the circumstances. In these cases, a BAC reading slightly below the limit may still be used against you if you decide to fight the charges.

Let’s take a look at how alcohol affects a person and in what amounts. 

Effects of Alcohol ConsumptionCloseup of drinks at the club - Springfield DWI lawyers

Drinking certain amounts of alcohol will lead to changes in your behavior and physical reactions. At a low level of consumption, you can appear normal, but with specialized tests, experts can determine that your perceptions are altered. As you drink more alcohol, you begin to show symptoms of impairment that progress. Reactions to alcohol consumption include:

  • Euphoria
  • Lack of concentration
  • Relaxation
  • Poor reasoning
  • Impairment of peripheral vision
  • Lack of depth perception
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness

The legal limit for being arrested for driving while intoxicated varies in different states and drivers who are operating a vehicle with a commercial driver’s license have stricter requirements than those driving with a basic driver’s license.

Springfield in Missouri Alcohol Consumption Limits

Missouri has liberal laws concerning how retailers can sell liquor to the public, leading to an increased number of DWI arrests. Anyone drinking alcoholic beverages in this state must have a general idea of how much alcohol is in each type to avoid impairment that can lead to an accident that causes property damage, personal injuries, or death. Manufacturers of alcoholic beverages may list the amount of alcohol in the product, and everyone needs to understand the correct portion size of an alcoholic beverage. Here is a list of the average number of drinks an individual can consume before driving without developing impairment*:

  • Hard liquor: 1.25 ounces at 80 proof
  • Wine: ounces at 12 proof
  • Beer: 12 ounces at 40 proof

Anyone driving a vehicle with a blood concentration level of .08 or above is committing a crime that is punishable with a financial fine, a penalty such as incarceration and loss of a driver’s license.

*These amounts are not true for everyone. 

The best way to avoid a potential DWI in Springfield, MO is to not drink and drive. Have a Designated Driver take you home or call an Uber or Lyft. If you do find yourself facing DWI charges in Springfield, we can help. Contact the law office of DWI Springfield today for a free consultation.