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What is a per se drunk driving offense in Arkansas?

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Some driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases in Arkansas are very clear-cut. A driver gets behind the wheel and does something so dangerous that anyone witnessing the situation would recognize their chemical impairment. Other times, whether someone faces charges or not may come down to the results of chemical testing.

The law in Arkansas allows for prosecution in scenarios either involving obvious signs of intoxication or chemical test results showing that someone is over the legal limit. A technical DWI involves a violation of the Arkansas per se limit for someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Different people are subject to different limits

A per se limit is a legal standard that is criminal to violate in and of itself. Essentially, if the state can show that someone was over the limit, prosecutors do not need to prove that being over the limit impaired someone’s driving ability.

Every driver will, therefore, need to carefully comply with the per se limit for their license type. The average adult over the age of 21 is subject to a standard per se limit of 0.08%. If someone’s BAC is at or over that threshold when police officers perform a chemical test, they can arrest someone they solely on those test results.

Some drivers are subject to a different limit. Teen drivers could end up arrested for impairment at the wheel after only one or two drinks. The per se limit for an underage driver who is not yet 21 is 0.02%. A lack of legal access to alcohol and increased overall crash risk factor into this much stricter standard for youthful motorists. Finally, someone using a commercial driver’s license (CDL) will also have to abide by a strict limit for their BAC. Anyone operating a commercial vehicle like a bus or semi-truck could face prosecution if their BAC reaches 0.04% or more.

How drivers defeat such charges

Those accused of a per se limit violation may have several defense options available. Sometimes, their lawyers can raise questions about the legality of a traffic stop when there weren’t signs of impairment. Other times, there could be questions about the accuracy of test results, possibly because of health issues or problems with the device used for testing. Seeking legal guidance to better understand the Arkansas rules that lead to DWI charges may help people determine the best response to a recent arrest.