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Are all drivers subject to the same legal limit?

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2023 | DUI

“The legal limit” is often referenced in alleged drunk driving cases. Once someone has broken bright line, the court can presume that they were impaired while driving. This is why police officers will engage in breath tests after making a traffic stop, because the results of such tests may be the strongest evidence that they have in so-called per se impaired driving cases.

This doesn’t mean that someone isn’t impaired if they’re below the legal limit. They may be. But the court would need to see evidence – such as a failed field sobriety test – to demonstrate that impairment. When someone is over the legal limit of 0.08% in terms of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the court is empowered to presume intoxication.

Oftentimes, drivers assume that this limit is 0.08% for everyone. But is it actually?

2 exceptions

The reality is that the 0.08% limit applies to most drivers, but not all. There are some exceptions that have to be considered.

For example, commercial drivers have a lower limit because they are operating such large vehicles and have to more significantly consider the safety of either passengers or others on the road around them as a result. For a commercial driver, the legal limit is 0.04%. This means that someone who is driving as part of their employment has to be much more conscious about how much alcohol they’ve consumed than someone who is just driving on their own time.

Another exception concerns underage drivers. No one in Virginia is supposed to purchase or drink alcohol when they are under 21. As such, the legal limit for this group of drivers has been set at 0.02%. If someone is in their teens or early 20s, they could reach this limit without even consuming a full drink. Any evidence of alcohol use could be enough to convict them.

The legal process

As can be seen, the law is more complex than people sometimes realize. There are a lot of different factors that have to be carefully considered when one is facing criminal charges. For example, the process of criminal defense itself might be quite different for someone depending on their age and occupation. It’s important for all involved to understand their legal defense options and the steps they need to take to safeguard their rights and interests. Seeking legal guidance as proactively as possible, as a result, is generally wise.

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