Over the last several decades, both private advocacy groups and public agencies have managed a fairly successful campaign to educate and warn the public about the dangers associated with drinking and driving. As part of that campaign, every state in the nation has now lowered its presumptive BAC level to 0.08 percent. Almost everyone who operates a vehicle is also aware that you can be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) if you are caught driving with a BAC over the “legal limit.” A Cass County DUI Lawyer tells you something you may not know – that you can also be found guilty of DUI with a BAC of less than 0.08 percent.
The “Legal Limit”
At this point, most people refer to a BAC test result of 0.08 percent as the “legal limit.” People often say things such as “she was over the legal limit.” The reality is a little different than what most people think. Nebraska Revised Code 60-6. 196 governs driving under the influence, reading as follows:
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or be in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle:
(a) While under the influence of alcoholic liquor or of any drug;
(b) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of his or her blood; or
(c) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of his or her breath.
Both section (b) and (c) refer to the 0.08 “legal limit” as you will note. Those sections are there – and similar sections found in almost all state DUI laws across the country – because they make it much easier for the State to secure a conviction for DUI. Prior to the advent of a user-friendly breath test machine, state DUI laws relied on a prosecutor’s ability to prove that a defendant was “driving while under the influence” or “driving while intoxicated.” Because those terms were difficult to define, much less prove, convictions were hit and miss. The ability to test a motorist’s BAC level makes it correspondingly easier to secure a conviction for DUI. Having a BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher, however, is not the only way to find yourself convicted of DUI.
DUI with a BAC Level of Less than 0.08
What most people don’t know is that there are actually several circumstances under which a motorist could end up with a DUI conviction despite having a BAC level of less than 0.08 percent. The first is the “old school” approach to a DUI conviction. Note that the governing statute above still has the old verbiage in section (a) which reads “While under the influence of alcoholic liquor or of any drug.” Consequently, it is possible to be convicted of DUI without a test result showing a BAC level of 0.08 or above. Using section (a) the prosecuting attorney must convince a judge or jury that you were “under the influence of alcohol” to secure a conviction. While this may be more difficult than simply introducing a test result of 0.08 or above, it is far from impossible.
Another possibility is if you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). If you have a CDL, a breath test result of 0.04 percent or higher can be considered a “major disqualifying event” for purposes of your licensing. While it does not directly work to convict you of DUI, your career can be over in the blink of an eye with a BAC level of just half the “legal limit.”
Finally, if you are under the age of 21, all it takes is a breath test result of 0.02 percent for you to be guilty of an alcohol-related driving offense. Aptly named, Nebraska’s “Zero Tolerance” law is intended to discourage underage drinkers from getting behind the wheel if they have had anything at all to drink.
Contact a Cass County DUI Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you were recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Nebraska, contact a DUI lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
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