When a defendant is facing drunk driving charges, he or she will be bombarded with new vocabulary and unfamiliar legal terms along every stage of the process. One of these pieces of “legal jargon” is a way to refer to certain types of laws with the descriptor “per se.” So, what is a “per se” DWI law, and what does it mean?
A per se DWI law basically states that if police gather evidence of a .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) or higher, then the allegedly drunk driver can immediately be charged, arrested and brought into jail. Basically, the per se law allows police to act on a specific piece of information without the need for further investigation. That said, a police officer who fails to perform a full investigation into a specific driver’s true state of inebriation may be weakening any potential case to be brought against the defendant in the long run.
All U.S. states have per se DWI laws on the books. According to the per se laws in North Carolina, for example, a driver who blows a .08 percent BAC, or tests to have a .08 percent alcohol content in a blood test, will be accused of being intoxicated by the police. This, of course, is not to say that the defendant will be convicted. It just means that he or she will now face being arrested and charged of a crime.
It’s important to note that just because a North Carolina is arrested and accused of DWI based on a per se interpretation, it doesn’t mean that he or she will ultimately be convicted. Indeed, defendants may have various legal strategies at their disposal in order to defend against a DWI charge in court.