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Must police show driving impairment for a DUI conviction?

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2022 | Drunk Driving

When a police officer originally pulled you over, perhaps the issue was a problem with your brake lights or that you just didn’t use your turn signal. However, after you admitted that you had had one or two drinks with your dinner, they asked you to step out of the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test.

One thing led to another, and a chemical breath test showed results of 0.08% or higher. Once someone fails a breath test for alcohol during a traffic stop, it almost always leads to an arrest. If your driving was just fine before the traffic stop, can the state successfully convict you of a driving under the influence (DUI) offense?

Impaired skill is not necessary for a DUI charge

Confusion about the terminology for DUI charges is part of why people think that bad driving is a necessary component for a successful Virginia DUI charge. The state can and does arrest and charge people with impaired driving because they display poor driving skills even if they don’t exceed the legal limit on a chemical breath test. The inverse is also true.

The state can prosecute people with normal driving abilities if chemical test results show that their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit. The way that the driving under the influence laws work is that they make it illegal to drive when alcohol affects your ability and also if your BAC goes over the established legal limit of 0.08%. The Virginia BAC rule is a per se limit. It is a crime to have a BAC of over 0.08% even if that much alcohol doesn’t impact your ability to drive.

Good driving could help you defend yourself

There are several ways for people to defend against pending Virginia DUI charges. Challenging the accuracy of chemical test results is a popular strategy. When the officer has to admit that your driving was normal, it may be easier for you to call the accuracy of your chemical test results into question.

If the test results are unreliable and there were no other signs of impairment, you may avoid a conviction. Learning more about the law can help you respond to potential DUI charges.


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