Can a Driver with a Low BAC Be Liable in an Accident?

February 6, 2017 / 12:15 pm

If you’ve spent any time on Bucks County’s roadways in the past few years, you’ve probably seen the billboards: “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

The message is clear: “I wasn’t that drunk” isn’t a proper DUI defense. Bucks County’s criminal court system is filled with experts who can attest to that.

Even if you aren’t falling-down, on-the-verge-of-blacking-out drunk, you still may not be OK to drive.

Yet some motorists choose to get behind the wheel even when they know they aren’t OK to drive, leading to an accident. In other cases, the driver might be under the legal limit for a DUI charge, but still have enough alcohol in their system to affect their driving ability.

In Pennsylvania, a driver is considered legally intoxicated when their blood-alcohol level reaches .08 percent. Yet even someone who is under the legal limit can make mistakes behind the wheel.

At .02 percent, we’ve begun to lose our judgement, and find it harder to perform more than one task at a time. At .05 percent, a driver can have trouble steering, and less ability to monitor moving objects.

Even though you aren’t technically drunk, you can still be held liable in an accident if these conditions cause you to crash.

A “Wet Reckless”

In Pennsylvania, it’s possible to plead guilty to something called a “wet reckless,” a term for when you admit to reckless driving after you’ve been charged with driving while under the influence even when your BAC is lower than .08 percent.

Drivers who plea to this offense can keep their record clean, can avoid jail time and usually pay lower fines than they would if they were convicted of DUI.

But just because such pleas exist doesn’t mean the prosecutor will automatically go for them. They are typically given for first-time offenders whose BAC was either just below or just above the legal limit, and where there was no property damage or injuries.

However, if you are arrested for another DUI, courts will treat the “wet reckless” as a prior drunk driving condition, and fine/sentence you accordingly.

And having a wet reckless on your record won’t help your insurance rates. That’s because insurance companies consider reckless drivers a statistically greater accident risk than drivers who have been convicted of a DUI.

No matter what happens after a DUI arrest, it is not a good idea to try to handle a plea bargain on your own. Consult with a criminal attorney who is experienced in dealing with drunk driving cases.

DUI Defense Attorneys in Bucks County

When they need a DUI defense, Bucks County drivers turn to Penglase and Benson. Our team has spent years crafting DUI defenses, and investigating police procedure during DUI arrests.

Contact us today for a no-cost consultation, and we can get started on your defense.