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Can I Be Charged With OWI If My BAC is Below .08?


Most people think they’re well aware of the laws regarding driving after having a few drinks: as long as your blood alcohol level is below .08 percent, then you’re fine and can’t be charged with the dreaded OWI. However, we do occasionally encounter a number of clients who are surprised when they find themselves arrested and charged, even though the breathalyzer turned up a result below this limit. Often times these individuals are unaware of just what the laws indicating the legal limit for driving while under the influence actually mean.

The “Per Se” Limit

While most people think you need to have a .08 blood alcohol to be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI), the truth is the law doesn’t say that’s the case. In fact, that .08 limit is the threshold at which point your prosecution does not need any other evidence to support their claim that you are guilty of your charges, what’s known as the per se limit.

However, you can still be charged with OWI if your blood alcohol content is below .08 as well. If you performed so poorly on field sobriety tests that an officer genuinely believes you are intoxicated beyond a level considered safe for driving, then you can still be arrested. From there, it’s up to the prosecutor to show that your level of intoxication made you unsafe to be on the roads, such as citing your poor field sobriety test performance and other factors.

Fighting Back

The good news is that without a hard .08 BAC level against you, it’s much harder to prove that you were intoxicated and therefore it’s much easier to fight back. Field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate, with even the best tests administered properly only being correct around 80 percent of the time according to studies conducted by the NHTSA.

This means that if you have been arrested and charged with OWI but failed to blow a .08, you should absolutely reach out to a Milwaukee OWI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. You should not have to settle for the consequences of a crime that you didn’t commit, and at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, we are dedicated to helping you effectively fight back with hard-hitting, aggressive litigation.

If you have been arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, don’t hesitate to call the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella today! Dial 414-882-8382 to request a case evaluation and get help building an impactful defense that fights to preserve your rights!
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