Can a person be arrested if his blood alcohol level is .076 and they have no prior arrests?

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Can a person be arrested if his blood alcohol level is .076 and they have no prior arrests?

I was stopped for driving without headlights on. The officer did a breathalyzer test because he said he smelled alcohol. I blew a .076 on the scene and .06 at the police station. I have no prior arrests. I spent 3 days in jail because they don’t grant bail to DUIs and there was a Monday holiday. A mechanic found that my headlight switch was faulty. The parking lights and dash lights were on but the headlights weren’t. It was a well-lit area and I didn’t realize that they weren’t on. Stopping me for no lights was legitimate, but was arresting me for DUI and holding me in jail for 3 days legal?

Asked on October 24, 2010 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, if someone commits a crime for which they can be arrested, they can be arrested notwithstanding a lack of prior arrests or convections. DUI/DWI is such a crime--contrary to how it used to be treated, as a traffic offense (like speeding), it has generally been "criminalized" and is treated like a "real" crime.

While the state cannot hold someone indefinitely without bail, arrangement, etc.--unless, I suppose, they are "enemy combatant"--there is no requirement that bail or release on own recognizance be granted immediately. A weekend and holiday see like reasonable reasons for a delay.

You should retain a criminal defense attorney, preferably one with DUI experience in your local courts, anyway; when you do, you can pose these questions to him or her. It is highly likely, however, that the police did nothing wrong in this instance.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, if someone commits a crime for which they can be arrested, they can be arrested notwithstanding a lack of prior arrests or convections. DUI/DWI is such a crime--contrary to how it used to be treated, as a traffic offense (like speeding), it has generally been "criminalized" and is treated like a "real" crime.

While the state cannot hold someone indefinitely without bail, arrangement, etc.--unless, I suppose, they are "enemy combatant"--there is no requirement that bail or release on own recognizance be granted immediately. A weekend and holiday see like reasonable reasons for a delay.

You should retain a criminal defense attorney, preferably one with DUI experience in your local courts, anyway; when you do, you can pose these questions to him or her. It is highly likely, however, that the police did nothing wrong in this instance.


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