Presumptive impairment laws were designed to make it easier for prosecutors to prove that a person was driving under the influence (DUI) while on the roads. The laws presume you are incapable of operating a vehicle safely based on a chemical test and not on what officers observed. Presumptive impairment laws could affect your DUI case in a few ways.
You Will Be Assumed To Be Impaired After Testing
One of the main ways that presumptive impairment laws affect DUI cases is by introducing the idea that you were impaired based on nothing more than a chemical test. You do not have to behave in an impaired way. The prosecutor does not have to prove that you were showing any signs of impairment at all. The law states that you are assumed to be impaired if your blood alcohol content is at or above the legal limit. Fortunately, you are given some legal tools that you can use to fight this assumption during a trial.
Your Charges Might Be Split Temporarily
The next way presumptive impairment laws could affect your case is that your charges could be split. This is a tactic used to make it even more difficult to prove that you were not impaired. The charges could be split into a standard DUI charge and something called a DUI per se charge. You can be found guilty of one charge and innocent of the other. If you are found guilty of both charges, then they are combined into a single DUI at the end of the trial. DUI per se charges mean that you could be penalized just for having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit and not for anything related to impairment. This does not always occur although it is becoming more common. The penalties for DUI per se are usually slightly less harsh than the penalties for a typical DUI charge.
You Can Rebut the Presumption
Although you are presumed to be impaired when the tests show an elevated blood alcohol content, the presumption can actually be rebutted. This means that you are allowed to present evidence to show that you were not actually impaired. A common way an experienced lawyer will do this is to challenge the testing method. There might even be chain of custody issues with the results that can be explored. Another defense is that the actual reading does not indicate impairment scientifically. This defense shows that although you were above the legal limit, the alcohol did not impair your ability to drive normally. A final common strategy is to question whether your blood alcohol level was actually at the recorded level while you were driving. Any one of these can be a successful rebuttal when argued by a skilled lawyer.
It Will Become More Difficult To Avoid the Charges
The final way presumptive impairment laws affect DUI cases is by making it more difficult to avoid charges. These laws are designed to provide some type of punishment for anyone who has elevated blood alcohol levels. Although you might be able to defeat the DUI charge, the DUI per se charge might still apply.