Did you ever wonder why it’s important for law enforcement to establish that a driver they pulled over on suspicion of DUI has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 percent? Aside from being the legal limit in practically all states, a BAC of .08 percent is all authorities would need to charge that driver with a DUI, thanks to “per se” laws. Here are some things you need to know about per se laws.
No further evidence needed with a per se DUI charge
The Latin phrase “per se” means “by itself,” which means that by itself, a 0.08 BAC is enough to prove that you are guilty of a DUI. No further evidence would be required to prove that you were intoxicated while behind the wheel.
All states have per se DUI laws
Per se laws are now in effect in every state in the U.S. as well as the District of Columbia. With their per se laws, these states no longer have to prove impairment or present that the driver failed a field sobriety test to charge him or her with a DUI.
Why were per se laws created?
Many individuals stopped on suspicion of drunk driving often feel and claim to be sober. With per se laws in place, drivers can claim to be as sober as can be, and none of that would matter if their BAC is at or over .08 percent. In a way, per se laws were created and implemented to make it easier for the state to convict people of a DUI.
Per se laws do not address drugged driving
The .08 percent BAC limit is confined to alcohol, so the per se laws, in general, don’t cover drugged DUI cases per se. Some states, however, have taken steps to ensure that their per se laws address drugged driving. Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia, for example, have established specific limits for the presence of drugs in a driver’s system. Then there’s the zero tolerance policy espoused by Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin, where detectable levels of certain drugs in your body can get you charged and possibly convicted of drugged driving.
You can challenge a per se DUI charge
A .08 BAC or higher does not necessarily mean an automatic DUI conviction. If you find yourself facing per se DUI charges, take comfort in the fact that you can challenge your test result’s validity. You can also question the procedures used to establish your BAC or even the machines used to process the samples collected from you.
Get the services of an experienced DUI attorney, and you can be sure he or she knows many other ways to defend your DUI case in court.
Michelle White currently works as the Marketing & Communications specialist at Law Offices of Brian Sloan. Her experiences with DUI cases in the past have inspired her to spread awareness about DUI laws in the United States.
A DUI arrest brings with it several legal consequences, and those consequences become more serious when an accident is involved.
In DUI accidents, it isn’t just the drunk driver who has to attend to legal matters. The victims, whether another driver, a pedestrian, a passenger in the drunk driver’s car, or the family of those who died or were seriously injured in the said accident, also need to understand their rights under the law so they can take appropriate legal action. Here are some of the legal matters involved in DUI accidents that all parties need to understand.
The civil liability of drunk drivers
In any DUI accident, it is imperative for authorities to establish that the driver who caused the crash was indeed drunk when it happened.
Breathalyzers, field sobriety tests and blood tests should help the police determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) levels of the DUI offender. Once the tests confirm that the driver was indeed drunk, he or she will be exposed to civil liability suits from the victims of the accident.
As a respondent in a civil case, the at-fault driver may also be compelled by the court to compensate the victims who have filed property damage and personal injury claims.
A DUI is already a crime, so those arrested for drunk driving will be prosecuted in court and if convicted, will have to pay stiff fines and will likely spend some time in jail, depending on the judge presiding over the case. The legal consequences are only going to become more serious in DUI accident cases, particularly when other people suffered injuries or there is property damage.
And when somebody dies because of the accident, the at-fault driver will be facing vehicular manslaughter charges, a felony with more severe consequences once the driver is convicted.
Dram shop laws
In DUI accidents, authorities are tasked to look beyond the drunk driver when determining liability. Under “dram shop laws,” DUI accident victims can sue business establishments that served drinks to a person who later caused the crash that caused injury, property damage, or death.
These dram shop laws, which are currently enforced in 38 states, also hold liable for any drunk driving accident the hosts of a social gathering who allow a guest whom they know to be intoxicated to get behind the wheel and drive away.
In cases where the drunk driver who caused the accident is a minor, victims can also file a case against the adults who provided alcohol to the at-fault driver. Some states are even stricter when it comes to their dram shop laws. If a minor causes a drunk-driving accident and law enforcement finds out that he or she had been drinking in a certain home right before the crash, its owners will be facing charges as well, and it doesn’t matter if they know the minor had been drinking inside their residence or not.
Whichever party you are in a DUI accident, it is important that you get an experienced DUI attorney by your side to help you see all the legal matters through until the conclusion of the case.
Arizona DUI Team
Getting pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of drunk driving isn’t exactly the way you’d like your evening to end, but it’s something that you can’t really do anything about except comply. You’d be in a whole world of trouble if you didn’t.
However, if you do get in trouble by getting arrested for a DUI anyway, there are a number of things you need to do to better your chances of beating the DUI charge.
Consequences of a DUI
Before delving into what you need to do if you get arrested for a DUI, you need to be aware of what would happen if you’re convicted of the crime.
You could face jail time, and the length of the sentence would depend on the DUI charge and other circumstances. You will also be made to pay heavy fines that will definitely make a dent on your finances.
In most states, a first-time DUI conviction also leads to the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, which requires the offender to blow into the device before he or she can start the vehicle. The IID measures the alcohol in the driver’s system, and temporarily locks the ignition of the vehicle, effectively preventing the driver from driving and causing harm to anyone.
Get the services of an experienced DUI lawyer
No other step is more important or urgent than actually contacting a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases the moment you get arrested for a DUI. While you can always choose to represent yourself in court or maybe ask a friend who’s a lawyer but isn’t a DUI attorney to defend you, keep in mind that a DUI conviction can get you significant jail time and cost you thousands of dollars in fines. We’re not even talking about the income you’re going to lose or how a conviction could ruin your career potential for the rest of your life. Contact a skilled and experienced DUI attorney who knows the ins and outs of DUI laws and procedures, and improve your chances of dodging a DUI conviction.
Petition the DMV for a license suspension hearing
Would you still want to drive after your DUI arrest and during your DUI legal proceedings? Then request a license suspension hearing within 10 calendar days of your arrest. Fail to do this, and you can say goodbye to your drivers’ license for at least four months, as the DMV will automatically suspend it.
Have your DUI lawyer get hold of all police records about your arrest
You would want to be armed with every possible detail of your DUI arrest, so it only makes sense to obtain all police records related to it. Every question that was asked of you by the police officer, your responses to the said questions, results of breathalyzer tests or field sobriety tests, or even the manner in which the officer stopped your car will all matter during your trial. In some cases, those details might just get you off the hook.
Work with your DUI attorney on your defense
Your DUI attorney knows how to go about defending you in court, but your cooperation with him or her is of paramount importance. Your conviction, acquittal, or reduction in penalties depends on the evidence against you, and your lawyer will need your side of the story and any other evidence you can provide to help him or her decide how to approach your case.
If the evidence against you is overwhelming and conviction is a foregone conclusion, your DUI attorney can find ways to negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge and therefore lesser penalties. Your DUI lawyer can also question the sufficiency of the evidence against you, and even challenge the constitutionality of your arrest. Your input is essential, and your DUI attorney solely needs it to help you out.
Kevin Crowley is an experienced DUI lawyer at Lane, Hupp & Crowley PLC, a team of criminal defense lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona. He enjoys writing about law and helping his clients handle their legal needs.