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Are there any defenses available against BAC evidence?

In Virginia, the law requires that an arrest for driving under the influence be supported by probable cause. Today’s post examines the evidence needed to meet that showing, and as well as possible defenses.

Readers may recall that the legal limit for DUI is a BAC level of 0.08. Yet a breath test result below that level does not necessarily put a driver in in the clear. In fact, a slightly lower BAC level, such as 0.07 or 0.06, combined with other traditional factors of intoxication, might be enough to sustain a conviction for impaired driving.

As a law firm that has represented many clients accused of DUI, we compare a BAC result to a presumption. A BAC above 0.08 percent creates a presumption in favor of the prosecution. In contrast, the lower the BAC level, the more likely that the presumption may shift in favor of the driver’s defense.

Yet in both instances, a jury may return a surprising result. This is because a presumption can be rebutted with other evidence. In the case of a BAC level above 0.08 percent, our attorneys would examine the arrest from the beginning.

Our inquiry would start by asking whether there was a lawful reason for the traffic stop, whether the officer followed lawful procedures during that stop, and whether the ultimate DUI arrest was supported by probable cause. To make that showing, the prosecution may point to a combination of factors, including a driver’s blood alcohol content, poor performance on a field sobriety test, and various symptoms of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and breath that smells of alcohol.

Finally, when there is a chemical test result, we would examine whether the officer properly administered the test. We would also examine whether improper reading, evidence handling, or lab processing could have tainted the BAC result.

Source: FindLaw, “Defenses to Drunk Driving,” copyright 2017, Thomson Reuters

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