The answer is, yes!
But I thought the legal limit was .08?
Nearly everyone is aware that the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is .08. If the driver is under the age of 21, however, the limit is .01` in California. [BAC is a person's blood alcohol content, which refers to either the amount of grams of ethyl alcohol per 210 liters of breath or the grams of ethyl alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.] It is a common misconception that the only way that someone can be charged with driving under the influence is if their BAC is above .08. In reality, a driver can find themselves facing criminal charges even if their blood alcohol content was below .08.
Anyone with a BAC over .08 will face DUI charges, while those with BAC under .08 may face DUI charges in certain circumstances. Under California law, it is illegal for a driver to drive under the influence of any substance, no matter what that substance may be [alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs] or how much of it may be in your system. In many cases, even having one drink can be enough to charge a driver with DUI. Many prosecutors work to prove that a driver is impaired from alcohol if their blood alcohol content is above .05, regardless of the legal limit. Since it is illegal to drive impaired by any substance, someone who has a low alcohol tolerance may only need to have one drink to show signs of intoxication.
A driver may be arrested for DUI if they:
1] Have red and watery eyes
2] an odor of alcohol
3] Walk with an unsteady gait
4] Have slurred speech
5] Have difficulty with their motor skills [fail Field Sobriety Tests]
6] Exhibit problems with driving [i.e. weaving, speeding, rolling a stop sign, etc.]
Even though the legal limit was not surpassed, the prosecution will try and show that the accused driver was impaired. In these cases, a driver may be asked to plead to a wet reckless, a lesser criminal charge that carries some of the same penalties as a DUI charge and counts as a DUI conviction for any subsequent alcohol-related arrests.
Do not assume that because your blood alcohol content was below the legal limit that you cannot be convicted of a DUI or related charge.