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What Are Presumptive Impaired Driving Laws?

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What Are Presumptive Impaired Driving Laws?

In most states, they have what are called “presumed impairment ratings,” meaning that if you are in a state and you blow above a .08, the judge will instruct the jury to presume you are guilty of that element. Most states require the Government to prove several things in a DUI or DWI case:

  1. You are driving a motor vehicle, as defined by that Statute
  2. You are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
  3. You have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher

Some states require the Government to prove you were above the legal limit at the time of driving; other states allow what is called a “per se impairment”—meaning if you were above a .08, the jury can presume—presumptive impairment—you were impaired at the time you were driving.

The interesting thing about presumptions is usually they fall into three categories:

  1. If you are under .05—most states will presume that you were not under the influence of alcohol. The under .05 impairment information will be provided to the jury in the form of a jury instruction from the Judge. That means that, during the DUI trial, the Judge will instruct the jury that if the Government proves you were under a .05 at the time of driving, they are to presume that someone under .05 is not under the influence of alcohol.
  2. If you are between a .05 and a .08, since most states now use the .08 as the standard of impairment, the Judge will instruct the jury that they cannot presume anything—that there are no presumptions--meaning that they cannot draw conclusions that you are under the influence of alcohol, or that you are impaired for the purpose of conviction. So—if you are in a trial, and the evidence is you were a .06, most Courts will instruct the jury that they are not to presume the person is impaired.
  3. However, most states and jurisdictions, the cases that get set for trial, were folks above a .08. There comes in the presumption that person is impaired.If you are in a state that has those presumptions, the Judge will instruct the jury that if you are above a .08, meaning the Government has proved you are above a .08, they are to presume you are under the influence of alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired.

J. Kevin Hayslett

Kevin Hayslett, Esq.

J. Kevin Hayslettis an attorney practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and DUI Defense from the Clearwater office and Hillsborough office. Kevin is an avid tennis player and is currently nationally rated in singles and doubles. You can follow Kevin onGoogle+, oron Radio IO on his show, "Kevin's Law". Kevin can also be heard on the Sirius Satellite Radio show during the "Ask the Lawyer" segment, which can be heard the first Thursday of every month.