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Can I Get a DWI If I'm Driving Under the Legal Limit?


Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious criminal offense in the state of Texas, and those convicted of the crime face a number of serious penalties and consequences. These penalties, including possible terms of imprisonment and license suspensions, can also be elevated when aggravating circumstances are involved, including child passengers, accidents and injuries, multiple convictions, and higher BAC levels.

Not all DWI cases involve aggravating circumstances, however. In fact, some cases straddle the edge of what could be considered legal or illegal. This is especially true in cases where drivers have a blood alcohol concentration of .08.

Under Texas law, and laws in all other 50 states for that matter, the legal limit for DWI, or DUI, is .08. While having a .08 or greater is certainly grounds for an arrest and criminal allegations, there are situations where having a BAC under .08 could still result in an arrest and charges. These include:

  • Per se intoxicated – In Texas, you can be arrested and charged with DWI even if your BAC is under .08. This is because motorists who consume alcohol can still be considered too impaired too drive even under the legal limit, which is known as per se intoxicated. If a law enforcement officer has reason to believe your mental and physical abilities are impaired in such a way that you pose a danger to others, you can be arrested. However, prosecutors will need to prove, using evidence provided by arresting officers regarding your impaired faculties, that you were too impaired to drive. This evidence may include erratic driving, unusual behavior, and other physical or mental signs.
  • Minors – Minors under the age of 21 can face criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI), which is a different charge than DWI, if they have any amount of alcohol in their system. This is the law under Texas’ zero tolerance policy.
  • Truck Drivers – Commercial truck drivers are held to stricter standards than other motorists because they have an obligation to operate massive vehicles safely. Drivers of commercial vehicles can be arrested and charged with DWI when their BAC is .04 or greater. Commercial driver’s license holders face more severe penalties when convicted of DWI, including serious consequences to their profession.
  • DUI Drugs – You can be charged with DWI if you operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, controlled substances, and prescription medications that impair your abilities. Even if you had a BAC under .08, or did not consumer alcohol at all, law enforcement can still make an arrest if they have reason to believe you are impaired by drugs.

DWIs are serious cases, and they demand the attention of proven lawyers. While DWI cases are known for tough prosecution and harsh penalties, they can be effectively defended against. This is especially true in cases where motorists had a BAC under .08. At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., our Addison DWI attorneys have extensive experience protecting the rights of clients charged with all types of DWI offenses, and can discuss with you your available options and defense strategies during a confidential case evaluation.

To request a consultation, contact us 24/7.

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