I have worked with hundreds of people over the past decade as a Seattle DUI Attorney. Each case is truly unique. I have represented people as young as 16 years old and as old as 80. While many of my clients alleged breath test results were well over the legal limit, I have represented several people whose results were right at the legal limit. I have even represented people whose breath or blood results were below the legal limit. Law enforcement can still arrest and a prosecutor can still charge an individual whose alcohol concentration was well under the legal limit. In addition to the per se prong of Washington State's DUI statute of .08 is the "affected by" prong where a driver deemed to be "affected by" alochol and/or drugs may still be arrested. It is common to see people who blew a .05, .06 or .07 be charged with suspicion of driving under the influence.
Many people who come to meet with me indicate that they felt "fine." People do not realize how little alcohol it takes to get to a .08. It does not take much. Also, several medications that are commonly prescribed to driver's have warnings about mixing the medication with alcohol. I once represented a person charged with a DUI whose breath test results were a .02 (1/4 of the legal limit), but who admitted to taking his anti-depressant medication earlier in the day.
There is an initiative in Washington in which marijuana would be legalized and defined "per se" legal limit for THC would be established (5 nanograms). Many of the opponents to this initiative argue that people who are dependant on marijuana for medicinal purposes would never be able to drive because their THC level would be well above the legal limit. Currently, there is no defined impaired amount of marijuana, but typically any measurable amount of the active THC substance found in a driver's blood will lead to them being charged with DUI.
While we always see the warnings that .08 is the legal limit, people need to know that actually can be well below that amount to be charged with a DUI. If the arresting officer has any reason to believe the person's ability to drive was affected by a person's alcohol consumption, or by medication or controlled substance, or a combination of both alcohol and drugs, the driver will be arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.
As we get ready for the summer months in Seattle, I want to remind everyone to be safe and exercise good judgment when operating a motor vehicle or vessel.