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Can you be charged with DUI if your BAC is below the legal limit?

Drunk driving is a common reason why police may arrest a motorist in Virginia. Many people in Virginia already know that the legal limit for how high a motorist's blood alcohol content can be in order to charge the motorist with drunk driving is 0.08 percent. What they may not know, however, is that in Virginia a motorist can face DUI charges even if their BAC is lower than the legal limit.

In Virginia, if a motorist's BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, then that motorist can be charged with DUI per se. This means that the motorist is deemed drunk and, therefore, to convict the motorist of DUI the prosecution simply needs to show that per a breath test or blood test the motorist's BAC registered at 0.08 percent or higher.

However, Virginia law also allows for a motorist to face drunk driving charges if the police find that they are driving under the influence of alcohol even if the motorist's BAC is lower than 0.08 percent. In this scenario, the officer may ask the motorist to perform field sobriety tests to determine whether the motorist is sober, and the officer may also make observations as well, such as whether the motorist is slurring their speech to determine whether the motorist has had too much to drink to drive safely. To convict a motorist of DUI when the motorist's BAC is below the legal limit, the prosecution must prove that the motorist's ability to operate a motor vehicle was seriously diminished due to the consumption of alcohol.

Being convicted of DUI is a serious situation. It can lead to fines, the loss of a driver's license and even potential jail time. This, in turn, could negatively affect a person's life. For example, it could end up costing a person their job as well as cause the person to experience damage to their reputation. It is important for motorists to understand why they are being charged with DUI, so that they can formulate a strong defense against the accusations they face.

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Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White
30 North King Street
Leesburg, VA 20176

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