Most people in Michigan already know that if they are pulled over by the police on suspicion of drunk driving, and their bodily alcohol content is 0.08 or higher, they can be charged with drunk driving. However, this is not the only way it is illegal to drive while intoxicated.

In Michigan, if a person is driving while impaired by alcohol, they have committed an illegal offense even if their BAC is below 0.08. This is because even if a person’s BAC is below the legal limit, they could still be too impaired to drive. For example, if a person’s BAC is 0.05, their coordination and ability to follow moving objects is reduced and they may find it difficult to steer or respond to emergency situations.

On the other end of the spectrum, if a person is driving and their BAC is 0.17 or greater, this is a more serious crime. Even a BAC of 0.15 can substantially impair a person’s ability to maintain control of their vehicle, process auditory and visual information and keep their mind on the task of driving.

Age can also be a factor in drunk driving offenses. If a person is under age 21 — the legal drinking age — and they drive with a BAC of 0.02 or higher or with any alcohol in their system, they have committed a legal offense.

People under age 21 are also prohibited from purchasing, possessing and drinking alcoholic beverages. If they have alcoholic beverages in their vehicle without someone age 21 or older also in the vehicle, this is a misdemeanor offense, regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion or is stopped.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Ultimately, those who are charged with a drunk driving offense will want to seek the help of a professional who can explain their legal rights and options.