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Can I Be Charged with DUI If I’m Under the Legal Limit?

woman driver talking to police officer at her window

Many people believe that if their BAC score is within the legal limit, they are safe from DUI charges. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Under .08% DUI

In Virginia, you are considered a sober driver when your BAC is .05% or lower. If you are pulled over for suspected DUI and your breath test results show you are at a .06% or .07%, you may be charged with ‘wet reckless.’ Technically, this is not a DUI charge, but an alcohol-related traffic violation charge. It is usually given to first-time offenders who were driving recklessly, but were below the legal BAC limit.

Other things to know about a wet reckless charge are:

  • Not all jurisdictions allow this charge, and prosecutors are not required to give it to someone just because they fit the criteria.
  • If convicted, you may still be required to take the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program.
  • The penalties for a wet reckless charge are similar to those for DUI, like jail time and fines.

Field Sobriety Tests

When drivers are below the legal BAC limit, police officers often use field sobriety tests to further prove that the driver is impaired by alcohol.

The three main standardized field sobriety tests are:

  • The One-Leg Stand Test
  • The Walk and Turn Test
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

These tests are always optional and you cannot be penalized for refusing to participate. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t know this and participate in the tests in order to cooperate with police. Many sober drivers are unable to pass these tests due to a variety of non-alcohol-related factors, like underlying medical issues affecting balance. For this reason, you should always refuse to take field sobriety tests.

Virginia DUI Lawyers

If you have been charged with DUI or wet reckless, our team at Tillotson & Martin, LLC wants to help. Call us at (757) 568-7978 to explain your legal situation to our DUI defense attorneys.