Arizona DUI Lawyer Tips: “slightest degree”-Impaired or Not Impaired? That is the question; not whether you are above the “legal limit”.

Some people are confused when prosecuted for an Arizona DUI even though blood results indicate a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below the legal limit of .08. Most people erroneously believe that keeping their BAC under .08 means that they are safe to drive, and safe from an Arizona DUI conviction. Those people are wrong.

Arizona DUI law states that it is a violation of the law to operate a vehicle if your ability to do so is impaired “to the slightest degree”. Translation: if there is any alcohol (or other drug) that is in your system, and the State is able to present evidence that your ability to drive was impaired at all, you are in danger of prosecution and conviction for an Arizona DUI.

So why have a legal limit at all? Why would the state set a legal limit of .08 BAC, if it can prosecute you even when you stay below? A blood alcohol level of .08 is scientifically accepted as the level at which everyone’s ability to drive is impaired. It is called “universal impairment”. If someone’s blood tests at a .08, it simply means that the State no longer has to prove that you were impaired by presenting evidence that you drove poorly or that you could not touch your nose with your eyes closed. The fact that you were at a .08 or above is proof that you were impaired. People vary widely in their tolerance to alcohol, and some people will display driving impairment far below that limit, and they are fair game for an Arizona DUI conviction as long as the State has proof of bad driving, bad performance on field sobriety tests, or some other proof of impairment.

Moral: Being below a .08 does not make you either a safe driver or safe from a DUI conviction. The .08 BAC legal limit is less of a guideline for citizens trying to obey the law, and more of a legal cut-off point where the State’s case becomes easier to prove, and where penalties increase. In fact, the term “legal limit” is misleading in this sense