The blood alcohol percentage associated with DUI charges may seem like something that should be consistent. While it’s similar in most states, it does vary by state and by situation, so you need to be aware of the differences.
A Blood Alcohol Percentage of .08 is the Norm for DUI, But There Are Exceptions
Most of the states, territories, and the District of Columbia have stayed with the .08 percent blood alcohol level for DUI charges that has been the norm for years. The state of Utah, however, introduced a lower blood alcohol level of .05 in late 2018. This applies to adult drivers of non-commercial vehicles. There are other, more stringent standards in different situations. It’s possible that other states may follow their lead in the future.
It’s important to note that just one drink can create a blood alcohol percentage of .05 percent in many individuals, depending on their body weight and other factors. You may not feel intoxicated at .05 or even .08 percent, but you may be legally impaired and subject to prosecution.
Allowable Blood Alcohol Levels for Those Under 21 is Close to Zero
Since it is illegal for those under 21 to drink alcohol in all 50 states (and DC), and because teens are more likely to die when drinking and driving than more experienced drivers, every state has greatly reduced the allowable blood alcohol levels for those under 21. While the exact allowable levels vary, they are typically in the range of .01 to .04, and intended to be levels that practically do not allow any alcohol consumption. Since breathalyzer results may be off by a small percentage, the low BAC levels are intended to avoid false positives and make the laws enforceable.
Blood Alcohol Levels Are Lower for Other Situations As Well
In addition to the situation with those under 21, there are other situations where the allowable blood alcohol level is significantly lower, usually at a similar threshold to the one described earlier. In other words, they are essentially designed to absolutely prohibit drinking before driving. These situations include those who are under probation for a prior DUI and those operating commercial vehicles.
While the .08 percent blood alcohol level is a norm and most drivers are familiar with it, it’s important to know that under some circumstances it may vary. Drivers under 21, those on DUI probation, and those operating commercial vehicles are examples of motorists who may find that they can be prosecuted at a much lower level.