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When could someone face per se DUI charges in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2024 | DUI

Some people drive home from a party or nightclub after having far too much to drink. They swerve all over the road, suddenly stop for seemingly no reason and become a visible menace to others on the road. People who display obvious intoxication at the wheel are at risk of arrest for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. Someone who causes a crash might also be subject to increased law enforcement scrutiny and might get arrested for a DUI.

Other times, individuals who feel as though they drove like a normal, responsible person get arrested for a DUI offense too. These people often face per se DUI charges.

What exactly constitutes a per se DUI violation in Virginia?

An elevated blood alcohol concentration

The only necessary factor for Virginia to prosecute someone for a DUI offense is a failed chemical test. The per se blood alcohol limit in Virginia makes it a criminal offense to drive with a certain amount of alcohol in one’s bloodstream regardless of that individual personal alcohol tolerance or driving capabilities.

Someone who seems sober could still fail a breath test and end up facing criminal charges. For most adults, a BAC of 0.08% or higher is necessary for a per se DUI charge. However, those driving semi-trucks or other commercial vehicles can get arrested with a BAC of 0.04%. For underage drivers, a BAC of 0.02% is all the state needs to prove to potentially prosecute them.

The state has no obligation to prove that the alcohol impacted someone’s driving ability to pursue DUI charges. Simply exceeding the legal limit for one’s BAC is illegal all on its own. A per se DUI offense is a violation of the technical rules established in the law, not a charge related to someone’s performance at the wheel.

In many cases, per se DUI charges rely heavily on chemical test results. There are ways to defend against per se charges, such as questioning the legality of a breath test or providing proof that test results were inaccurate. Ultimately, learning more about Virginia laws, and seeking legal guidance as soon as possible, may benefit those accused of driving while under the influence.