Drunk Driving – “Per-Se” Driving Laws

Almost all states have enacted per-se driving laws in cases involving drunk driving. A per-se drunk driving offense is when a driver is determined to be assumed guilty of the crime of drunk driving by the mere fact the prosecution has demonstrated the driver was over the legal limit at the time the chemical test was administered, irrespective of whether the driver was impaired to safely drive the vehicle.

In states like California, and most others, a administrative hearing is set-up by the DMV regarding whether the accused’s driver’s license should be suspended, even before there has been a conviction. For driving purposes, the driver is assumed guilty if the driver either fails the chemical test or refuses to take a chemical test. In either case  the accused’s driver’s license is automatically suspended. Because administrative license suspension laws are independent of criminal proceedings and driving is considered a privilege rather then not a right, the action of suspending a person’s drivers license does not have to meet constitutional standards.

The per-se limit in almost all states is either .08 or .10. This means that you are presumed to be under the influence if you are above these state mandated levels. Notwithstanding the fact that a person’s blood-alcohol level is only one of numerous factors to be considered in the determination of whether someone is actually impaired to safely drive the vehicle.


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