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Why people get arrested for DUI without being over the limit

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2023 | Criminal Law |

In Montana, impaired driving charges are among the most common reasons for the state to prosecute individuals. Most people understand that there is a legal limit to how much alcohol they can have in their bloodstream. If police officers pull someone over while they are over that limit, that person will likely face arrest and possibly also prosecution.

All it takes is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit to justify someone’s arrest and prosecution for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. However, there are numerous circumstances in which police officers might arrest someone for impaired driving when they do not fail a chemical breath test. Additionally, the following are some of the scenarios in which someone might get arrested for a Montana DUI without chemical testing showing that they are over the limit.

Their driving is visibly bad

Impaired driving isn’t just about chemical test results. It is also about the practical impact that chemical intoxication can have on someone’s driving ability. Someone swerving all over the road or otherwise demonstrating impairment could be subject to arrest even if they are well under the legal limit for their BAC. Officers may be able to use dashboard camera footage of someone driving or body camera footage of someone’s field sobriety testing to justify arresting that driver.

Their impairment is due to drugs

In Montana, it is as illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs as it is to drive under the influence of alcohol. Many different types of prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medication can negatively impact someone’s driving ability. The same is true of many street drugs which are illegal to possess and consume. When someone admits to taking mind-altering drugs, they can end up arrested even if the drug itself is legal by virtue of a doctor’s prescription. Anytime the state can reasonably demonstrate that someone was under the influence of a mind-altering substance while at the wheel, the driver could very well end up sentenced to time in state custody, large fines and a suspension of their driver’s license.

Recognizing that a failed breath test isn’t the only pathway to impaired driving charges may help people better react to police interactions or a recent arrest.