You know that the legal limit for drivers in New Jersey is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration). They told you about it when you took your driver’s training and it has not changed. You always work hard to make sure you’re under the limit whenever you drive. You even carry a small breath test around with you to check if you think you’re close.
After all, you can’t get a DUI if you don’t break the 0.08 limit, right?
The real law
Wrong. It’s a common misconception. You can get a DUI if you are under the influence while driving. If the alcohol impacts your ability to drive safely, that’s all that matters.
The 0.08% limit is really just a line after which police have no obligation to prove that you were impaired. If your BAC is that high, the court knows you faced impairment and you can get convicted. They don’t have to prove anything else.
But you can get a DUI while under 0.08%. If police can show that the alcohol impaired your ability to drive — you did not react as quickly as you should have, for instance, or you made critical mistakes that caused a crash — then you can still get convicted with any BAC level.
When people get a breath test on the side of the road, they often watch it as if that number is a magic line that prevents legal charges. If they blow a 0.07%, they feel like they can’t get arrested. That’s simply not how it works. An impaired driver at 0.07% could still face arrest just like an impaired driver over 0.08%.
A note about personal breath tests
Since it got mentioned above, here is a quick note about personal breath tests: You should not trust them. They are not the same ones that officials use in court, so you can’t counter the police account saying you blew a 0.09% by saying that your own device only showed you a 0.07%. Never mind that you could still face impairment at 0.07% anyway; your test may not be accurate at all.
In fact, some experts have expressed concern that people trust these devices, saying they give them a “false sense of security” by making them think they can drive safely when they are not just impaired but actually over the legal limit.
As you can see, people still deal with a lot of myths regarding drunk driving in New Jersey. If you find yourself facing charges, make sure you know what myths to watch out for and what legal steps you can take.