A BAC Over .08% Does Not Always Equal Driving Under the Influence
Under Texas law, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. But just because a breathalyzer test or a blood test showed a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher does not always mean that you were driving under the influence. In some situations, the test administered to determine the driver’s BAC was inaccurate or defective. In other circumstances, the driver might have consumed drinks and appears to have a BAC at or above the legal limit, but other factors might play a role in determining the driver’s actual alcohol-induced impairment.
Even if you have been charged with a DWI in Austin after having a couple of drinks, you may be able to work with an Austin DWI attorney to show that your BAC over 0.08 percent did not equal driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are numerous factors that can influence the impact of alcohol on the body. What are some of the defenses when a breath or blood test has registered a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher?
Breath and Blood Testing Mistakes
There are many different ways in which mistakes or errors can be made when determining a person’s BAC. For instance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following are some of the mistakes that can lead to an inaccurate BAC reading:
- Improper use of the breath test by the administering officer;
- Improper method for collecting a blood sample;
- Improper storage of the blood sample; and/or
- Contamination of the blood sample.
Defective Breath and Blood Testing Equipment
Sometimes an arresting officer ensures that a breath or blood test is properly administered, but there is something wrong with the equipment that was used to test for the driver’s BAC. In other words, sometimes breathalyzer test devices, as well as blood testing equipment, can be defective. Such defects can result in a BAC at or above 0.08 percent even though the driver was not operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Medical Conditions Result in Inaccurate BAC Reading
In addition to mistakes made at the time of a BAC reading—through either a breath or a blood test—a person’s medical condition(s) can also result in an inaccurate BAC. In these situations, the test might have been administered properly, but the driver has a health condition that results in a higher reading that does not accurately reflect the person’s level of alcohol impairment. Examples of medical conditions that can lead to a higher BAC reading that is inaccurate include but are not limited to:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD);
- Acid reflux disease;
- Heartburn; and
Timing of Alcohol Consumption
In certain cases, the timing of alcohol consumption can also result in a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher when the driver was not impaired by alcohol at the time of driving. For instance, you may have taken your last drink and were stopped by a law enforcement officer within 10 minutes, but the breath test was not administered for a lengthy period of time. As such, the BAC might say 0.08 percent or higher, but you would not have had that BAC if you had been tested immediately while driving.