In North Carolina, a person can be charged with a DWI under Intoxication Per Se laws. Intoxication Per Se laws are laws that give the State the ability to convict a driver for DWI solely based on the results of a blood or breath test, without any further evidence of impairment.
Without a blood or breath test, the state must prove a driver was “appreciably impaired” in order to prove a DWI occurred. Appreciable impairment can be established by an officer who has witnessed the individual swerving, crossing the centerline, or committing some other driving infraction indicating impairment. Additionally, after pulling the driver over, the officer can also observe the driver’s appearance (bloodshot eyes, smell of alcohol, etc.) and make him conduct field sobriety tests. These observations and behaviors by the officer can be used in testimony to show that that the driver is unable to safely drive on the road. However, with Intoxication Per Se, if the test indicates that the individual has a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) higher then the maximum State level, the officer does not have to show any other proof of impairment. As such, appreciable impairment is a much more difficult standard for the State to meet than simply introducing the results of a chemical test into evidence.
In North Carolina, under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-138.1, the legal limit for BAC is anything greater than or equal to .08. This is the generally accepted limit throughout the United States. If there have been violations of constitutional or state law procedural protections that occurred during the officer’s investigation and arrest or technical problems with the intoxilyzer machine, then the blood or breath results may be suppressed by the judge hearing the case.
If you have been charged with a DWI Per Se, you should not hesitate to Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation about your case.