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What is a per se DUI infraction in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Some driving under the influence (DUI) charges arise due to obvious legal violations. Someone drove in a very poor manner or caused a crash that had consequences for other people. Police officers may arrest anyone involved in a crash if a breath test shows they were over the legal limit and often screen those driving poorly for signs of intoxication.

What some people do not realize is that a large portion of the DUI cases prosecuted in Virginia do not involve crashes or severely impaired driving. Instead, they involve drivers who have technically violated state laws. A per se DUI charge may require a different defense strategy than a charge related to a crash.

What is a per se DUI violation?

Per say statutes are laws that criminalize certain conduct regardless of the impact that those actions may have on others. The Virginia DUI statute includes provisions against driving when impaired and when someone has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a set limit.

It is a violation of the law to drive with an elevated BAC regardless of whether that alcohol level translates to obviously poor driving or causes a crash. For the average driver, the BAC limit imposed by state statutes is 0.08%. Those who are not yet old enough to legally drink, those subject to licensing penalties for prior traffic offenses and those driving commercial vehicles are subject to lower limits than the average person.

If someone tests at or over the per se limit given their circumstances, the state can prosecute them regardless of other factors. Those accused of a per se DUI offense could potentially defend against those allegations by raising questions about whether a traffic stop was legal or if there were issues with the breath test. If the only evidence of a legal violation is the result of a breath test, then finding a way to question or exclude that evidence can help someone beat their pending charges. At the end of the day, understanding the basis for Virginia DUI charges may help people choose an appropriate response after an arrest.


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