Rising Blood Alcohol as a Manassas DUI Defense

When someone is charged with a DUI in Manassas, it is possible that the alcohol test performed at the station will show a higher blood alcohol content than that which was present at the time of the DUI stop. This could mean that a person was actually driving within the accepted BAC level at the time of their stop and could potentially lead to mitigated penalties. As a result, a Manassas DUI lawyer will act as your advocate throughout the legal process with your best interest in mind, and will work to minimize your charges as much as possible.

Factors that Influence BAC

A number of factors come into play, such as size and strength of the drink, time spent drinking, food consumption, body size, and gender. Generally speaking, alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream much more quickly than it is eliminated or metabolized. However, it is also the case that food significantly slows the absorption of alcohol, so that drinks had with food will be adding alcohol to the blood stream over a much longer period of time, though at a slower rate.

Correlation Between Blood Alcohol Level and Drunkenness

Blood alcohol concentration and drunkenness do not directly correlate; blood alcohol level will produce different results in different individuals depending on a number of factors. This includes age, gender, height, weight, as well as how much the individual typically drinks.

For purposes of illustration, a six foot five, 300-pound man in his 40s who regularly drinks may be completely unaffected by having two drinks, whereas a 100-pound woman in her 20s who almost never drinks may be significantly affected, even to the point of impairment, by the same amount of alcohol.

In addition, there seem to be other factors from person to person which are not easy to quantify, but as anyone who drinks in social settings knows, some people are simply better able to “hold their liquor” than others.

Evidence Needed for This Defense

In order to convict someone of DUI, the government has to show that the person was under the influence at the time they were operating a motor vehicle. Because the BAC test, which will be used in court, can be administered up to three hours after the traffic stop, and because alcohol may still be in the process of being absorbed for some time after operation of the vehicle has ended, rising blood alcohol content may cause the result of the test in some cases to show something very different than the actual BAC at the time of driving.

There is always going to be some lag time between the time a person is stopped, the field sobriety tests are conducted, an arrest performed, and the time a person arrives at the station. If that person has alcohol that is still in their stomach, particular mixed with food, it will continue to absorb into the blood stream and the BAC will rise.

A DUI lawyer can utilize a toxicologist to help show that the BAC level was actually lower at the time of driving in the right case. This expert can use scientific methods to show what the BAC at the time of vehicle operation was, factoring in the amount consumed, over what time period, weight, gender, etc. It also helps if a person does well on the field sobriety test or if there is other evidence of sobriety at the time of the stop such as a Preliminary Breath Test (one given at the side of the road) which is lower.

This can be an important defense when blood alcohol rises above 0.08, which puts the driver over the legal limit, or if it rises above 0.15, which is where a penalty enhancement (which includes active jail time) in Virginia kicks in.

 

Persuasiveness of This Defense

Judges and jurors find this defense persuasive because the law charges them with determining not simply whether the defendant was operating a vehicle and under the influence close together in time, but whether the person was under the influence at the exact same time that they were operating a motor vehicle. There must be no reasonable doubt on this point.

Therefore, looking at a person’s level of intoxication at some point after they were driving, – maybe a few hours afterwards, – is not actually looking at whether that person was under the influence at the time of driving.

Through evidence, including expert toxicology testimony in some cases, the defense can show a judge or jury that the person was significantly less intoxicated or not at all intoxicated at the time of driving, particularly in a case in which the person was just a few minutes from home. The fact-finder in that case can conclude that not only was the person not under the influence to the degree that the government claims, but that they would not have been driving their vehicle at a point in which they were.

Benefits of a Lawyer

The benefits of contacting a Manassas DUI lawyer are manifold. The first benefit is that a Manassas lawyer is local to the area and will know the prosecutors, the judges, and how Virginia law is specifically applied in that location.

Another important reason is that a DUI lawyer is going to have a great deal more experience with these kinds of cases and will know the beneficial defenses to use, the tactics that are employed by the government, and the views of judges on particular issues. Because of that, the attorney will be able to construct the best defense possible for their client under the particular circumstances of their case.

A lawyer will use rising blood alcohol as a defense in any case where it appears from the evidence that the blood alcohol level that is shown on the preliminary breath test, or that is the result of analysis done by a toxicologist, is lower than the breath test which is administered at the police station and which is reflected on the certificate of analysis.

Whenever that is the case, there is an argument to be made that the blood alcohol level that the defendant is accused of is actually not reflective of what it was at the time they were driving.