New Legal Standard for Arrest: “Buzzed Driving”

Some police agencies have now decided you don’t have to be legally drunk to be arrested for drunk driving. As Radley Balko has posted, the feds’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now targeting drivers with less than .08% blood-alcohol in its recent tax-funded national media campaign. In apparent response, some police departments are apparently ignoring the law and applying their own standards for arrest:

Local Lawmen Enforcing ‘Buzz Driving is Drunk Driving’

 WESLACO, TX December 27  Police warn driving while buzzed can be as dangerous as driving when legally drunk. A national campaign promotes the new slogan, "Buzz driving is drunk driving".

Many law enforcement agencies are taking the slogan seriously. DPS Trooper Johnny Hernandez tells NEWSCHANNEL 5, "Just because you don?t blow a 0.08, you can still be taken to jail."….

Most drivers who spoke with NEWSCHANNEL 5 were surprised to find out you can go to jail even if your blood alcohol level is below the legal limit. Some said they don’t think it’s right. But Trooper Hernandez said, "Our job is to make sure our streets are safe. That’s all. To make sure everybody is having a safe and happy holidays."

So if you drinking – and buzzing – but think you can still drive, you might want to think again and find another way home. Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra tells NEWSCHANNEL 5 even if a driver goes to jail, without a .08 blood alcohol level it’s not likely he will see the inside of a courtroom.

So if he won’t "see the inside of a courtroom", why are the police arresting him? When did the police decide to enforce their own standards?

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