Can You Get a DUI in Louisiana If Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is Below the Legal Limit?

Man behind the wheel of a car with a shocked expression on his face after being pulled over for DUI even though he hasn't been drinking.

In Louisiana, a DUI is a serious crime with harsh penalties that can have a lasting effect on your personal and professional life. Even if you believe you didn’t drink enough to raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit, the threat of a DUI arrest still looms in Louisiana. Prescription drug use and over the counter medications can result in a drunk driving arrest whether or not alcohol is in your system.

What are the Criteria for a DUI Arrest in Louisiana?

Many people assume there is one primary criterion for a DUI arrest—driving with a BAC over .08. However, Louisiana’s DWI statute specifies additional circumstances where a Louisiana driver can face a DUI conviction, including —

  • The driver is under the influence of illegal drugs.
  • The driver is under the influence of a combination of alcohol and one or more over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
  • The driver is under the influence of one or more over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

Alcohol does not have to be consumed to get a DUI. Even the simplest over the counter medication can be enough for a DUI charge. However, alcohol use while taking legal or illegal drugs is much more likely to result in a DUI arrest and possible conviction.

How Can Prescription Medication Get Me Arrested for a DUI?

Police officers and state troopers monitor the roads and highways for anyone whose driving seems impaired. Though that may be demonstrated by an overt act such as swerving, speeding or not obeying the rules of the road; other less significant behaviors can make a driver seem impaired. As drowsiness is a key side effect of many prescription and OTC medications, a groggy conversation with a police officer can get you charged with a DUI even with a BAC of 0.000.

Some of the medications that can produce the side effects mistaken for impairment include:

  • antihistamines
  • stimulants
  • tranquilizers
  • pain relievers
  • sleep aids
  • sedatives
  • tranquilizers
  • muscle relaxants
  • cough suppressant

The simple act of driving while taking medication you need for your health can put you at risk for arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Drivers who took any of the medications above and consumed alcohol have a tough decision when deciding whether or not to take the Breathalyzer. Demonstrating alcohol use while taking a prescription medication that can cause impairment is likely to result in an arrest, even with a BAC below .08. At the same time, refusing a breath test in Louisiana results in an automatic license suspension. There is no easy answer.

You Need An Experienced Louisiana DUI Defense Attorney

If you find yourself arrested for DWI, you need to consult with a top Louisiana DWI defense law firm. At Bates and McMillin, our trained attorneys can identify the critical evidence needed to prevent your conviction. Call our legal team now and schedule a free initial consultation.