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What are per se DUI laws?

In Virginia and all other states in the country, per se DUI laws establish that a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher means the person is considered intoxicated under the law. Per se laws remove any other evidence requirement for a DUI charge. No matter how sober a person acts, if they are stopped by authorities while driving and found to have a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher, they can be charged.

One disadvantage of per se laws is that individuals, who don't have easy access to measure their BAC before getting behind the wheel, must base a determination on their ability to drive by the way they feel. It's very possible for a person to feel completely sober after having a drink with a meal, but to have a BAC of .08 or higher. It's also possible in some situations for medicines or other things to cause a higher-than-normal BAC.

The existence of per se laws may make it seem like some DUI cases are open and shut. It's important to realize, however, that no DUI case is impossible to defend. Individuals driving with a BAC of .08 or higher may face automatic charges in some areas, but that doesn't mean a conviction is the only outcome. In fact, there have been many instances of successful defense against DUI charges despite the BAC results.

DUI defense can involve several strategies. The defense may work to invalidate the results of the BAC test by demonstrating that the test was not administered properly or that the machine was malfunctioning. Providing a reason for the BAC result other than alcohol may be another option. In all cases, the worst thing a defendant can do is give up before attempting a defense.

Source: FindLaw, "Per Se DUI Laws" Oct. 22, 2014

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