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Low alcohol levels and eye impairment

You may have heard that impaired drivers can get a DUI even when their blood alcohol level is under the .08% commonly cited as the legal limit. This is true, as officers have other means of gauging impairment and can arrest someone that they deem too intoxicated to drive safely, even if that person does not fail the limit.

When considering this, perhaps you began to wonder how even small doses of alcohol could cause impairment. You've had one or two drinks in an hour and felt like you could drive, so what happens?

You need to consider the subtle impairments that may not make it difficult to talk to friends or move about the house, but which could make it harder to drive a car due to the speed and the complexity of the task.

For instance, per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, your voluntary eye movements can see impairment after your blood alcohol level hits just .03% or .05%. You may not even be halfway to the legal limit, but your eyes are already experiencing more trouble than usual when trying to quickly track moving objects, e.g., other cars, cyclists, runners, etc.

This impairment only increases with continued drinking, but some officers may notice it at lower levels and even if you yourself do not recognize it. This can lead to a traffic stop and an arrest. You never want to assume that a low BAC is going to protect you from conviction on the charges. You must know what legal steps to take after being arrested for drunk driving.

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