It is falsely believed that you cannot be charged with drunk driving unless you are over the legal limit. How many drinks are OK before driving? You can be impaired due to consumption of a single drink even though your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is under the legal limit.
The Chemical Test Drunk Driving, Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
Under Michigan Drunk Driving Laws, you are considered to be “PER SE” intoxicated/drunk if your test result BAC (blood, breath, urine) is .08% or greater regardless as to whether you are actually drunk! A BAC result of .08% or greater will support a charge of Operating Under the Influence (OWI). In 2010, Michigan added another law to punish high blood alcohol content cases which has been called the Super Drunk law. Super Drunk offenders who have a BAC of .17% or greater face harsher penalties including no driving for 30 days and the requirement of a restricted driving for 320 days with the ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle.
There are various drink/weight index charts on the internet which give an approximate blood alcohol level for drinking and driving cases. These charts are informative but approximate at best. There are several considerations which the charts do not take into account such as an individual’s own tolerances, lapse of time, body metabolism etc.
In Michigan, you are considered to be “per se” intoxicated if your BAC is .08% or greater. However, there is no statutory minimum BAC which constitutes “per se” impaired. In other words, a person who has 2 drinks and a BAC result of .04% may be charged with impaired driving in Michigan if the person’s driving, conduct and actions is consistent with being impaired due to the consumption of alcohol. The BAC result would be admissible in evidence along with the testimony of the police or witnesses to establish impairment of the driver. The prosecutor will argue that even a low BAC results in diminished responses/impulses/actions compared to someone who did not drink anything at all.
Operating While Intoxicated Due to Medications
In Michigan, you may also be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated or impaired if you have taken medications even though the medications were prescribed by a doctor! Again, if the medications cause you to be impaired or intoxicated, the police or witnesses may testify as to your condition and blood test results can used against you at trial. Legal prescriptions such as pain killers, sleeping pills and various psychological medications contain warnings which must not be ignored and the warnings may be admissible in evidence! In my opinion, the legislature will adopt specific laws to cover driving under the influence of prescribed medications. It is just a matter of time.