Understanding DUI/DWI Limits and Arrests

DWI Lawyer

Most people are aware that being arrested for impaired driving will likely result in a minimum of a license suspension and a maximum penalty of jail time. However, fewer people are probably aware of the limits or intoxication levels that will result in an arrest. Even fewer still don’t understand that there are three different types of DUI arrests – per se, misdemeanor and felony. Therefore, most motorists can benefit from more information regarding both DUI/DWI limits and potential arrests.

DUI Limits and Types

Most states place the legal limit of blood alcohol concentration at or below 0.08%. However, alcohol is not the only substance that determines a DUI arrest. For example, a high driver may be arrested for having a cocaine content of 0.02 milligrams or more per liter of blood. Also, you may be arrested for impairment regardless of legal limits because of the way you were driving. People react differently to all types of drugs and alcohol. While a BAC of 0.08% may be an average for impairment, some people may have an alcohol tolerance far lower than the average, meaning they are impaired at 0.06 or 0.04%. Therefore, in some states, officers can make an arrest based on the proof that the substance had some effect on the driver’s ability. Because of the limitations of field testing, the times that require judgment calls on behalf of an officer and the moments when a driver causes harm or injury, there are different types of DUI arrests.

  • Per Se – A per se DUI only requires that a driver is proven to be intoxicated beyond the legal limit. Therefore, if a driver takes a Breathalyzer and blows a BAC of 0.08%, then they are arrested on that information alone.
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor DUI requires some sign of impairment without any aggravating circumstances attached. This type of DUI may not result in jail time and is often rectified with the payment of a citation.
  • Felony – A felony DUI requires repeat offenses, neglect or the injury or death of another person. These charges often result in jail or prison sentences.

DUI Testing and Arrest

Typically, a police officer will observe some erroneous driving behavior – swerving, stopping at green lights, etc. Then, they will pull over a driver and request they either perform a series of sobriety tests or subject themselves to chemical tests. While a driver may refuse, implied consent laws do permit officers to take these tests, and likely any refusal will result in immediate arrest and license suspension.

While mistakes happen, the decision to drive impaired can have dire consequences. If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a DWI, contact a DWI lawyer Fairfax, VA trusts to discuss your options.

Thanks to Dave Albo – Attorney for their insight into criminal defense and DWI limits.