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DUI Per Se

You don’t have to have a law degree to know that driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a serious criminal offense. In the United States, federal law prohibits anyone from operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher—a stipulation known as the “DUI per se” law. The Latin term for “in itself,” the per se DUI law allows drivers to be charged with driving under the influence if they are in violation of the federal BAC limit. As a result, even if your ability to drive is not impaired and you show no signs of intoxication, you can be arrested for DUI if you driving with an illegal amount of alcohol in your system.

For example, let’s say you are pulled over for speeding, running a red light, or other relatively minor traffic offense. If the officer smells alcohol on your breath or sees anything that leads him or her to believe you may have recently consumed alcohol, he or she may ask you to perform a breathalyzer. If the results indicate you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you can expect to be arrested and charged with per se DUI.

Because most states have Implied Consent Laws, it is important to know that you are legally obligated to comply with this request—in fact, refusing a breathalyzer or any other form of chemical testing (a blood or urine test) will lead to your arrest, and you could face the same or harsher penalties as a person who failed the test.

Of course, even if you have a BAC within the legal limit, it is still possible for you to be arrested for drunk driving. Many states have separate BAC limits for underage drivers and commercial vehicle operators, for instance (typically ranging anywhere from 0.00% to 0.04% depending on the area).

In addition, most states have “less safe” DUI laws that restrict drivers from driving with any amount of alcohol in their system if their ability to drive safely is impacted as a result. In other words, if you are driving recklessly, you could be arrested for DUI if a chemical test reveals you have a BAC above 0.00%.

The penalties for per se DUI vary according to state law. However, in most areas, the typical sentence for drunk driving includes a hefty fine, an automatic license suspension, and possible jail time. What’s more, because you do not have to be impaired to be charged with per se DUI, the prosecution only has to prove that you were driving with a BAC above the legal limit in order for you to be found guilty of DUI.

Fortunately, there are many ways to challenge your BAC test results. In many cases, the device may falsely inflated your BAC due to the presence of mouth alcohol (which is found in harmless products such as gum and breath mints) or delivered inaccurate results due to improper maintenance.

To learn more about you can fight your DUI arrest and avoid the penalties that result from a conviction, fill out a free online case evaluation today to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney in your area.

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