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Is a personal Breathalyzer your ticket to avoiding a felony DUI?

Most people who live here in Virginia know that the courts in our state take drunk driving very seriously. From fines to imprisonment, a person convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol faces a challenging road ahead because not only will that conviction stay on their criminal record, it can actually cause further legal problems down the road.

That’s because successive DUI convictions carry more and more weight, including higher fines and more time in prison. As some of our Leesburg readers can attest, a felony DUI conviction can easily ruin a person’s life, which is why most people try to find a way to avoid drinking and driving if they can help it.

Most people try to avoid driving under the influence by moderating their alcohol intake and assessing their intoxication level before getting behind the wheel. But in a lot of cases, these assessments are based on personal observations which, as you’ve probably already guessed, aren’t 100 percent accurate. And unfortunately, telling a police officer you thought you were fine to drive is not enough of a defense to get you off the hook for driving under the influence.

One thing that can increase your chances of avoiding a DUI is a personal Breathalyzer. Sold in several retail stores and online, personal Breathalyzers range in both price and the technology used. But if the device is deemed reliable and is close to being accurate, it could help you or someone you know gain a better understanding of their true level of intoxication. They may even choose not to try because of the breath test result.

It’s true that some people may use the devices to see if they are under the legal limit, which is still .08, because they believe that if they are under the legal limit them they won’t be charged with a DUI. Here in Virginia, this isn’t true. Our law states that any person found to be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol can be charged with committing a crime. Considering this, it’s not hard to see that even an under-the-limit BAC could lead to legal consequences, giving further weight to the argument that personal Breathalyzers are a good idea.

Source: ABC News, “More Than a Game: Testing Your Blood Alcohol,” Stephani Sy, Dec. 7, 2009

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