Can You Be Convicted of Drinking and Driving When You’re Under .08?

We all know the legal limit for drinking and driving is .08. Let’s say you’re under .08 and pulled over by the police while driving. Will this prevent you from going to jail?

The .08 Number

Driving with a blood alcohol content of over .08 is against the law in Michigan. The law presumes that a person with a BAC of .08 or over is intoxicated. It doesn’t matter if the person is driving perfectly – if you’re over a .08, the law assumes you are intoxicated.

Many people know to stay “under the limit” when going out on the town and driving. A .08 BAC could be reached with three of four drinks, depending on a person’s size.

Drinking and Driving Law

Drinking and driving in Michigan is legally referred to as operating while intoxicated. There are two ways a person can be convicted of operating while intoxicated. First, as stated above, driving with a blood alcohol content of over .08. And second, driving under the influence of alcohol.

Being Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of alcohol means a person’s ability to drive a vehicle was substantially lessened by alcohol.

Being “under the influence” of alcohol does not require a person to have a blood alcohol content of .08. A person could be under the influence with a .07 or a .06.

Now it is of course true that a person’s ability to drive at a .06 might not be significantly impaired or impaired at all. Nonetheless, the possibility of an OWI conviction can legally occur when a person is under .08.

Driving Under .08

Alcohol effects everyone differently. Two stiff drinks for a non-drinker could produce a buzz that means the non-drinker should take a breather before driving, or consider not driving, even if the person is well under .08.

Operating While Visibly Impaired

In addition to a conviction for being under the influence of alcohol, a person could be charged or convicted of the drinking and driving crime of operating while visibly impaired.

A visibly impaired charge is another way for the prosecution of obtain a conviction where a person drove with a BAC under .08. The standard for visibly impaired is simply that a person’s ability to drive was less than an ordinary careful driver due to alcohol.

The consequences of a conviction of visibly impaired are slightly less than for operating while intoxicated. However, both offenses are substantially the same in penalties.

In Conclusion

Driving with a BAC under .08 is no guarantee that you’re in the clear. Poor driving combined with any blood alcohol content will raise the eyebrows of many a police officer who pulls you over.

The safest course of action is to not drive at all if you plan to drink. Plan ahead. There are many ways a person can be convicted of a drinking and driving crime. Most people assume the whole focus is on the .08 number, and whether the driver is above or below it.

Contact us

Contact Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or by e-mail at

Sam Bernstein is a DUI Lawyer in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 2750 Carpenter Rd #2, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

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