You know that a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more means that you’re legally drunk, and you’d end up in a lot of trouble if you got caught that way behind the wheel of a car. But you don’t actually have to be “over the limit” to end up with a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in Rhode Island.
When can you be convicted of a DUI in this state?
The law says that a BAC of .08% or greater is “per se” drunkenness, meaning that it doesn’t matter if you were staying in your lane, following all the traffic laws and seemed sober. Based on nothing more than the test results, you can still be convicted of drunk driving.
However, you can also be convicted of a DUI when you’re caught driving:
- Under the influence of any amount of alcohol or drugs (even prescriptions) that rendered you unsafe to operate a vehicle
- With any amount of a scheduled controlled substance (such as painkillers and illegal narcotics) in your system if that drug is detectable in your urine or blood
This tends to come as a surprise to a lot of people because they only find out after they’ve said something that lends weight to the officer’s suspicion that they’re driving while impaired.
What should you do when pulled over by an officer?
Just about any traffic violation you make can give an officer an excuse to stop you and ask probing questions. The smart move is to stick to business. You aren’t required to tell the officer that you just came from a bar, were out to dinner with friends or anything else that might lend support to the idea that you were drinking. Nor should you try to excuse your traffic mistake by saying anything like “I think my cold medicine is making me tired,” because that can be taken as an admission that you’re somehow impaired.
If you are charged with a DUI, talk to an experienced attorney about your options. You shouldn’t let an aggressive criminal charge affect your future.