Can I Go to Jail for Buzzed Driving?

by Legal Author on November 25, 2021

When you’re out at a party or with friends, you may feel totally fine after having a beer or two or a glass of wine. This might make you feel that you can safely drive home; however, this isn’t the exact truth. Every day in the United States, driving under the influence (even if your blood alcohol content is within the legal limit) leads to serious car accidents.

If you’re involved in a car accident due to buzzed or drunk driving in Colorado, for example, working with a Denver accident attorney such as the Paul Wilkinson Law Firm is the best way to understand your rights, and if applicable, receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. While we all know the dangers of drunk driving, many people may not be aware of how even buzzed driving can lead to serious car accidents and injury.

But how exactly is buzzed driving different from drunk driving? And can you go to jail if you’re pulled over for buzzed driving? In this article, we’re answering these questions and more to keep our roads safer. Here, we’re taking a closer look at buzzed driving and what the potential repercussions can be for getting behind the wheel after even just a few drinks.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one person was killed roughly every hour in 2019 due to a drunk driving car accident. This staggering statistic leaves one to wonder: we all know how dangerous driving under the influence is—but why are people still doing it?

While each incident is unique, one reason may be due to buzzed driving and drivers thinking they’re sober enough to operate a vehicle when they really aren’t. Buzzed driving occurs when someone gets behind the wheel after drinking alcohol and their blood alcohol content (BAC) is somewhere between 0.01 percent and 0.07 percent. While in most states this still remains below the legal BAC limit (and thus, doesn’t count as drunk driving), it is still extremely dangerous and can impact your ability to safely and effectively drive a vehicle.


The difference between buzzed driving and drunk driving comes down to your blood alcohol content (BAC). In every state in the US, drunk driving is considered having a BAC of 0.08 or higher while operating a vehicle. This is your limit to receive a driving under the influence (DUI) charge if you’re pulled over. Buzzed driving refers to operating a vehicle with alcohol still in your system, but you’re under the legal limit of 0.08.


Depending on the state where the infraction occurred, you may be arrested and charged for buzzed driving. At first, this can seem confusing. Even with a BAC below the legal limit of 0.08, how can you be arrested if you aren’t technically considered to be driving under the influence? If you’re pulled over and the officer suspects you’re under the influence, they can request a sobriety check. If any amount of alcohol is detected in your system, you can still be charged with driving recklessly (it’s important to also note that these specific charges will vary from state to state, which is why you’d want to work with a local lawyer). If you’re charged with a DUI while buzzed or charged with driving recklessly, in many cases, you can plead this charge down to a wet reckless charge.


Depending on where you live, a driver who is arrested for buzzed driving may be able to plead down to a lesser charge, known as wet reckless. This is a bit of a tricky distinction from drunk driving. Essentially, when someone pleads to wet reckless, they admit to driving recklessly with alcohol in their bloodstream. However, they are denying that they drove under the influence of alcohol. This minor distinction in the charge generally leads to less severe penalties like those that would accompany a DUI charge.


No matter the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, you should never get behind the wheel. As previously discussed, even one or two drinks can impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle. You may feel fine, but alcohol takes time to absorb into your system and the effects can gradually creep up on you.

If you’ve been out drinking, you should always find an alternative way to get home. With the popularity of ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, it’s never been easier to get a quick and affordable ride home. Even if the cost of your ride home seems excessive, it’s nothing compared to the potential charges you could face if you’re arrested for buzzed or drunk driving.

Simply enough, the easiest way to avoid driving under the influence is to promise yourself that you’ll never get behind the wheel after drinking. By doing so, you not only protect yourself, but you’re also serving as a positive example for your friends and family. Take buzzed and drunk driving seriously. If a friend is leaving a party after drinking, work with them to make sure they have a safe way home. If needed, offer to pay for an Uber or a taxi ride home. In the morning, you both will be happy you made this decision.

Here are some other ways to avoid driving under the influence:

·                Plan to have a designated driver.

·                Stay overnight at the party.

·                Call an Uber, Lyft, or taxi.

·                Call a friend who hasn’t been drinking.

·                Book a room at a hotel.


You’re out at a party and you’ve had a few drinks. You may feel fine and confident that you can drive, but this doesn’t mean you should. Even after a drink or two, your ability to drive is impaired and you may not be able to act quickly or handle performing two things at once. Your reaction time will slow and you may even experience physical issues, like blurred vision. Buzzed driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and in many states, you can still be arrested and charged with a DUI or a reckless driving charge. If you’ve been out drinking, always seek out a safe way home. In the morning, you’ll be proud that you did.

Legal Author

Legal Author

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