DWI Law in Houston: Does Driving Under the Legal Limit Constitute a DWI?

If I Drive Under the Legal Limit, Can I Still Get a DWI in Houston?

Texas drivers know that they are considered legally drunk if they drive and they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. A blood alcohol concentration or BAC is determined once a blood test or chemical test is conducted at a police station. The limit of 0.08 percent is the standard BAC limit in every state whether that state uses DUI or driving under the influence laws or it relies upon DWI or driving while intoxicated laws.

Having a BAC level over the legal limit is not the only reason a highway patrol officer in Texas can make a DWI arrest. It is possible to be arrested for DWI when your BAC is under 0.08 percent. Here are the three situations where an officer could justifiably make a DWI arrest without testing for an over-the-limit BAC level.

Not using the normal level of mental or physical faculties behind the wheel:

Officers can use their discretion in arresting a driver for a DWI or not. If they find a driver is noticeably impaired, they can arrest that driver no matter what their actual or tested BAC level is. Reckless driving such as tailgating, speeding, or speeding through turns is all noticeable indicators of possible impairment.

Any driver, however, that has had one alcoholic beverage could be arrested for displaying any of these reckless driving habits. Their BAC level may not be at the legal limit, but the officer can still rightfully arrest them because of their lack of normal faculties behind the wheel

On the fence BAC tests:

From the perspective of Texas law enforcement agents, a lower BAC test of under 0.08 percent to 0.04 percent is questionable. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard and can be pulled over and arrested for an on-the-fence reading of as low as 0.04 percent.

If the officer has reasonable cause the person can be arrested if they operated the vehicle while the BAC was over that lower limit. For instance, the person could have had a 0.09 percent BAC but within the hour of getting in the car and being arrested, it could have dropped to 0.07. They can still be arrested for having been at the level while behind the wheel.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission assumes that a person’s BAC level drops 0.015 percent every hour they do not drink alcohol. This drop rate does get taken into consideration by an officer when deciding to arrest a person.

Zero tolerance laws:

Texas is a zero-tolerance law state for drivers under 21. If a minor’s BAC test results in over 0.0 percent, they are legally intoxicated and can be arrested and charged with DWI. Zero tolerance applies to drivers over 21 if there are narcotics in their bloodstream at the time of the arrest.

What happens if you have been arrested for a DWI but your BAC level was lower than the legal limit? Think about challenging your charge and keeping your driver’s license from being automatically suspended. Call Butler Law Firm. Our Houston DWI defense attorney will give you a free case evaluation. The defense team is experienced and trial-tested.

Most any driver in Texas knows that they will be considered legally drunk when driving with a BAC or a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more. The BAC limit is standard for all other states when they used DWI or DUI laws. DWI means driving while intoxicated and DUI mean driving under the influence.

Having a high BAC level is not the only thing that could cause you to be arrested for driving when your BAC is less than 0.08 percent. There are three situations where you could get arrested without having a BAC tested over the legal limit.

Driving without the normal use of your mental or physical faculties:

Officers can make some discretions when it comes to arresting drivers for DWIs. If the driver is clearly impaired or driving recklessly and tailgating or speeding, the officer can arrest them. If a driver does not slow down for turns or they do not stop at stop signs or they change lanes without signaling, a highway patrol officer does not need to get a test result to stop and arrest them for DWI.

On the fence BAC tests:

BAC test results that are below 0.08 percent “or 0.04 percent for commercial drivers” are questionable when viewed by Texas law enforcement. An officer can make an arrest if possessing reasonable cause to suspect the person was under the influence when they got behind the wheel. That means that if they were at 0.08 percent when they began driving, they can still be arrested even if their BAC is lower than that when they get pulled over. The TABC or Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission assumes a person’s BAC level goes down by 0.015 percent every hour that they do not have more alcohol. A highway patrol officer will consider this when deciding to arrest an individual.

More on zero tolerance laws:

Texas is among several states with zero-tolerance laws. This means any person under the age of 21 found to have a BAC higher than zero, is charged with a DUI. These zero-tolerance laws also apply to those over the age of 21. If that person is found to have any trace of an illegal narcotic in their system, they can be arrested because that trace could affect their ability to drive safely.

These are all situations where you could have been arrested for DWI even though your BAC level was under the legal limit. Do you need help to challenge your charges? Get the professional help of the Butler Law Firm. If you were arrested for DWI and your BAC was under 0.08 contact us and we will help you keep your Texas driver’s license from automatic suspension. Our Houston DWI defense attorney offers free case evaluations.

For immediate assistance, give us a call now to address your case!