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Federal Agency Recommends Lowering DUI Limit Almost by Half For Florida and Other States

DUI arrests in Florida come in all types. Many of them are completely the result of the subjective opinions and observations of a police officer who may be predisposed to believe you are driving while impaired from alcohol or drugs. Once that police officer has it in his/her head that you are driving drunk, basic psychology suggests that every subjective observation and interpretation he/she makes going forward is going to be tainted to some degree by that belief.

In most DUI cases in Florida, the police officer will request that the DUI suspect submit to a breathalyzer test. This test that purports to measure one’s blood alcohol level is not based on the subjective interpretations of the police officer, but it does come with its own issues, such as the reliability of the breathalyzer machine and the breathalyzer’s maintenance and operation. Of course, there are subjective elements to the breathalyzer stage of a DUI arrest. First, not everyone understands that the breathalyzer test is administered only after the police officer has arrested the driver for DUI. As you might expect, once the police officer goes through the trouble of making the DUI arrest, writing a report and driving the suspect all the way to the jail, we do not hear too many (as in none) reports of police officers “unarresting” the driver when he/she blows in the breathalyzer and the results are below the legal limit.

There is subjectivity in the breathalyzer process to the extent that different types of alcohol and different quantities of alcohol affect people differently depending on weight, metabolism rates, tolerance and other factors. There is also subjectivity in how and where the government decides to set the legal limit. Right now, the legal limit in Florida is 0.08. If a person blows in the breathalyzer and the results come back at 0.08 or higher, the driver can be assured that the state will likely file DUI charges. However, even where the suspect belows below 0.08, the state will often file DUI charges depending on the circumstances.

Some people will tell you that they are perfectly fine at or around a blood alcohol level of 0.08. Others will say that they get to 0.08 only after a couple of drinks. Despite the various inconsistencies among DUI cases, the federal government has suggested that states should lower the DUI legal limit to 0.05. If Florida did this, the obvious result would be more DUI arrests and more people in jail for DUI. Would fewer people drive drunk? That is not as clear.

Understand that DUI arrests are big business for governments. DUI arrests come with large fines and court costs that go to the government. People convicted of DUI often are required to go to classes, get evaluated for an alcohol problem and go through treatment. All of that means more money for bigger government.

No one would suggest that DUI laws are not important to prevent actually impaired people from driving and causing accidents. However, that should not mean that people should not fight DUI charges when they have had a drink or two and are perfectly fine to drive when faced with an overzealous police officer and government looking to feed into its increasingly profitable DUI business either.