I'm not getting in the debate of descriptive versus proscriptive when it comes to the BJCP style parameters.
If it is good beer, it is good beer. Plain and simple.
But getting back to the original question: is it possible to brew a good "session strength" IPA?
I believe it can be done. Though I've not yet done it myself.
Look at the thread about award-winning milds for some tips: essentially aromatic(or melanoidin) malt and toasted oats provide enough malt structure to balance the hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma.
I commend you for finding a session strength APA or IPA--we should have those, too!
DUI laws being what they are, over the limit is "over the limit". I'd love to frequent my local brewpub more often, but transportation is an issue (can't walk home). The big beers end up being consumed at home.
ABV does not equal FLAVOR. I hope you discover the secret recipe, and, like Vinnie C, you post the recipe for the rest of us!