In general, most people know that driving under the influence is illegal. They also know that the legal limit is a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. They have some understanding that a DUI arrest could lead to the loss of a license, time in jail and heavy fines.
That’s all true, but the unfortunate reality is that there are also a lot of myths floating around out there about DUI cases. These lead to a fair amount of confusion and they can even lead to legal mistakes. It’s important to bust these myths whenever possible. To get started, here are two of the most common ones.
1. The police can stop you for any reason.
A DUI arrest almost always starts with either a traffic stop or a car accident. In non-accident cases, people sometimes think that the police can pull you over for any reason. This is why — even when they’re sober and obeying all traffic laws — they feel so nervous when they spot a police car behind them or on the side of the road. They feel like the police may just decide to pull them over at any moment.
That’s not how it works. Every traffic stop has to have a reason. It must start with probable cause. Any random stop without probable cause is illegal. You may even be able to get the charges thrown out. Say, for instance, that you are intoxicated. The police stop you without probable cause and give you a breath test. Since it’s an illegal stop, you may be able to contend that all evidence gathered after the stop should not get used in court. The breath test results then get thrown out and they can’t prove anything.
2. You can never get a DUI without breaking the legal limit.
The limit, as noted above, is 0.08%. If a blood or breath test shows that you exceeded it, the police can use that to demonstrate impairment. This can lead to a conviction.
However, just staying under 0.08% does not protect you from a DUI. If you still showed impairment, the police can sometimes use that other evidence — witness testimony, video footage, failed field sobriety tests, etc. — to show that you deserve a DUI conviction. It can and does happen, even to people who blow a number under the legal limit and mistakenly believe that’s all it takes to get the charges dropped.
Knowing your rights
These are just two myths. Many more exist. Does what you read here change how you think about DUI cases? If so, make sure you are well aware of your legal rights if you ever find yourself facing charges.