You may have always heard that you may face driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges if you are over the legal limit of 0.08%. This is true, but you may also face such charges if you’re under that limit. Essentially, a police officer can arrest you if they believe you are impaired, regardless of your BAC. It’s just that a driver who is over the limit is presumed to be impaired.
However, depending on your age, that legal limit may actually not apply. Missouri, as with many other states, uses a zero-tolerance law. This sets the limit at 0.02% for any driver who is under the age of 21. Basically, any amount of alcohol that can be detected is too much at this age — since those under 21 aren’t allowed to drink in the first place — and you may face DWI charges because of this. A test that comes in under 0.08% will not protect you.
Would you even know if your BAC was 0.02%?
A big question to ask is if you’d even be able to feel the effects of the alcohol at 0.02%. Many people cannot. While you would know not to drive if you intentionally drank, what if it was an accident? What if you thought a can of carbonated water was just water with added flavoring, but it really had a small amount of alcohol? You could feel completely sober, get in the car, and then get arrested with a 0.02% BAC that you didn’t know about until you saw the test results yourself.
If something like this happens, you must know what legal defense options you have.