What’s “per se” intoxication in a drunk driving case?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2022 | Drunk Driving |

Sure, you had a couple of beers or a glass of wine with dinner – but you definitely weren’t drunk. You didn’t even feel slightly buzzed. You knew you were safe to drive.

You did, however, slide through a traffic light after it turned red or violated another traffic law. An officer pulled you over, and the traffic stop turned into a drunk driving investigation before you knew what was happening. You were eventually subjected to a Breathalyzer test and you blew a .06% – well below the blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% that you knew is illegal.

Why, then, did you get arrested?

You don’t have to meet the per se limit to be charged with a DUI

That .08% limit is the “per se” limit, which means that a BAC of that amount or higher means you are intoxicated by law. Absent any other evidence, a Breathalyzer reading that high can be enough to convict you of drunk driving – so you would naturally be looking at a drunk driving charge.

However, you do not have to meet or exceed the per se limit in order to be arrested for (or convicted of) drunk driving. The real question is whether or not you were too impaired to be driving. Some people may drive just fine at .06% BAC, while others may have significant problems.

A lot may come down to the observations of the police officer on the scene. If you seem drowsy, are slurring your words, are confused or combative, the officer may decide that you’re impaired no matter what your BAC reading. They may suspect that you have a combination of alcohol and drugs in your system that are affecting your ability to function.

No matter what your BAC reading or the situation under which you are charged, a conviction is never guaranteed. If you’ve been charged, you might want to do yourself a favor and learn more about your defense options.