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Legal Intoxication is Not Absolutely Necessary to Make a DUI Arrest

For most adults with a standard driver’s license and who drive a typical passenger vehicle, it is illegal to get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 or more. Someone who surpasses this limit is actually called “legally intoxicated,” which sounds misleading, as it marks when something becomes illegal. The majority of driving under the influence (DUI) arrests involve a suspect who is legally intoxicated, but not all of them. There are outlying — and arguably unjust — circumstances that allow a police officer to place someone under arrest for a DUI despite not having a BAC level above the legal limit.

Two key reasons why someone might be arrested for a DUI without actually being legally intoxicated are:

  • Dangerous driving: Highway patrol officers are tasked with stopping any reckless drivers on the road in order to protect the wellbeing of everyone else. When they pull someone over for reckless driving, the charge can become a DUI instead if there is any amount of alcohol in their system. The idea being that they were driving dangerously because of alcohol consumption and apparent intoxication, even if the reported BAC level is just 0.01.
  • Drug use: Driving under the influence is deliberately not named “driving under intoxication”. This allows the charge to apply to both alcohol consumption and substance use. Someone who uses a drug before driving is arguably under its influence, even if the only true “influence” is cough suppression. For this reason, you can be arrested for a DUI if you get behind the wheel after taking off-the-shelf cold medicine.

Law enforcement tends to use the “DUI with drugs loophole” to arrest people who use recreational marijuana before driving. However, there is a major problem with this gray area of the law, in that it makes it practically impossible for someone with a medicinal marijuana prescription to ever legally drive. Traces of chemical components from marijuana can linger in a person’s system for several days after use. If someone is prescribed medicinal marijuana to take once a day, then they could theoretically always be pulled over and arrested for a DUI, despite being in total control of their faculties.

Fast-Acting, Quick-Thinking DUI Defense in Santa Rosa

At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., we are adamant about keeping the criminal justice system honest. When a client has been arrested for a DUI despite proof of them not being legally intoxicated, we work hard to dismantle the prosecution’s case and question the validity of the arrest. We hope to get your case dismissed before it can lead to further complications in your life, but if the matter goes to court, you will feel confident in having a reputable Santa Rosa criminal defense lawyer already by your side.

Find out more about our services right now by calling (707) 418-5352.