Can I Get a DUI Charge if I Pass the Breathalyzer?
Under Florida law, it is illegal for someone to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or higher, or operate a vehicle with impaired faculties. If one does drive a car and is pulled over, it is still possible to be guilty of a DUI despite a low BAC. To understand how this is possible, it’s essential to learn what qualifies for DUI and how Florida courts process these charges.
What Constitutes a DUI Charge in Orlando?
When someone stopped by police has a BAC that is above the legal .08 limit, the officer will charge him or her with drunken driving. Generally, if a driver suspected of DUI blows under this limit, the officer may still demand a blood or urine test. Impaired driving is illegal in Florida, so BAC is not the only measurement used to determine the state of a motorist believed to be under the influence of alcohol. The county or state prosecutor in your case might try to use circumstantial evidence to get you convicted, as well.
Prosecutors need to prove the following to convict you of a DUI:
- The defendant was driving or in control of a vehicle
- During the act of driving or controlling the vehicle, the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or other chemical substances that impaired his or her faculties
- The defendant had a BAC of .08% or higher
It’s important to note that your BAC is not a concrete indicator of the level of impairment you maybe be experiencing due to alcohol consumption. Many factors including your height, weight, and age also determine the effects one experiences while drinking. Breathalyzers do not take this information into account, and law enforcement realizes this fact. This is why you may still have to face a DUI charge even if under the legal limit.
Jury Instructions Regarding Impairment
If you passed a BAC blow test, but officers still believed you were driving while drunk, you will have to defend yourself in court against DUI charges. The prosecution will focus on whether you were impaired despite not meeting the legal limit. They will rely on circumstantial evidence to prove their case, and a jury must use the below guidelines when reaching a verdict:
BAC of .08% or Higher – Presumed Impaired
Driving with a BAC of .08% or higher means the judge and jury can presume you were impaired. Once the breathalyzer test results are admitted as evidence, the jury can assume this under Florida law. It is possible to fight this presumption, but you must demonstrate you were not at all impaired.
BAC of higher than .05% to less than .08%– No Presumptions for or Against Impairment
If evidence shows you had a BAC over .05% but less than .08% while operating or in control of a vehicle, the jury will presume you were not drunk to the point of impairment. This jury direction allows the prosecution to submit other evidence that shows your alleged impairment despite the BAC being under the legal intoxication limit. The jury must weigh that evidence and determine if your normal faculties were affected at the time you drove.
BAC of less than .05% – Not Presumed Impaired
A BAC of less than .05% while in control or driving a vehicle will require the jury to presume you were not impaired. It is still possible for the prosecution to submit additional evidence to support their claim that you were driving or in control of a vehicle while drunk. The jury will consider the alleged evidence against you and decide if you were impaired.
Hire an Orlando DUI Defense Attorney
If you successfully passed a breathalyzer test but were still arrested for DUI, it’s imperative to higher a DUI defense lawyer right away. Do not assume that you are clear of any possible charges since the prosecution can use other evidence to secure a conviction.
The Umansky Law Firm understands how DUI technology works and how it affects the case against you. Our firm has over 100 years of combined experience to help create the best defense strategy, fight circumstantial evidence, and decide on alternatives besides pleading guilty to DUI. Contact our firm today to receive a free consultation about your case and a free guide about the DUI court process.