Knowing Your Rights When Facing West Virginia DUI Charges
Drunk driving is a common offense in the United States. According to MADD, 57 percent of drivers who died as a result of a crash had alcohol or drugs in their systems. Given its proliferation, it is important for West Virginia residents to be knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to drunk driving.
West Virginia law specifically prohibits anyone from driving while being in an impaired state. This includes anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI based on that BAC level, the charge is considered “per se,” meaning that it does not require proof that you were actually impaired in any way: your BAC level is enough to convict you. However, in West Virginia, you are required to submit to a blood or breath test if a law enforcement officer has reason to believe you are driving under the influence, and if you refuse a BAC test, your driver’s license will be revoked for one year for a first offense.
Per se DUIs are difficult to overcome, but a skilled attorney may be able to mount a successful defense. If the arresting officer made a mistake when obtaining evidence against you, that evidence may be subject to exclusion. In addition, an attorney can attack the reliability of the instruments used to measure your BAC. All DUI cases are different, so in order to know if either of these defenses are available to you, speak with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.
It may also be useful to know that the legal BAC limit is reduced to .04 percent if you were driving a commercial vehicle and to .02 percent for drivers who are under 21 years of age, though these younger drivers will have more lenient penalties.
As for the science behind DUI laws, BAC is a measure of alcohol in your body. It can be measured through your breath, blood and even urine, though most law enforcement officers will use a breathalyzer. Your BAC level will depend on the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed and the length of time it took you to consume it. Many factors, such as age, gender, weight, height, liver function and stomach content will affect your BAC levels.
DUI charges are difficult to overcome, but you may have defenses available to you. Depending on the facts of your specific case, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to have your charges reduced to reckless driving.