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Blood Alcohol Concentration and DUI Charges

Every state has a legal limit for blood alcohol concentration. If your BAC meets or exceeds that limit, it is considered adequate evidence to charge you with driving under the influence.

However, many people do not understand about drunk driving laws as they relate to blood alcohol level. Some people think that if your BAC is below the legal limit, you are untouchable and cannot be charged. This is not true.

Per Se Intoxication

In almost every state in the country, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08%. The exception is Utah, which set a new, lower limit of 0.05% in 2018. The state legislature of Michigan has proposed a bill to follow suit. According to the most recent information, this bill is still before the state House Judiciary Committee.

What a legal BAC limit does is set the level for per se intoxication. When your blood alcohol is at or above the legal limit, the law presumes that you are too drunk to drive. Therefore, once chemical testing establishes that your blood alcohol exceeds the legal limit, the prosecution does not need to present any further evidence of your impairment.

This is not to say that you cannot challenge the blood testing in court. There are many factors that may affect the accuracy of the test result. Additionally, even with an elevated BAC, there are possible defenses against DUI. For example, you may have become involuntarily intoxicated if someone spiked your drink without your knowledge.

Impairment With a Lower BAC

However, even if your blood alcohol concentration is lower than the legal limit, it does not mean that you cannot be charged with DUI. Researchers have studied the effects of alcohol on the body and found that even small amounts of alcohol can impair functions needed for driving.

In other words, if a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of impaired driving and your blood alcohol level is below the legal limit, it merely means that the officer will have to collect more evidence in order to charge you in addition to your BAC. For example, the officer could administer a field sobriety test while recording you with the patrol car’s dash cam. If you failed the test while the dash cam was recording, the footage could be entered against you as evidence of your intoxication.

State governments take drunk driving very seriously, and the penalties for DUI conviction can be severe. Contact a law office to discuss your legal options with a DUI lawyer in Fairfax, VA.

Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into criminal law and blood alcohol in a DUI charge.

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