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Per se laws in Texas

Like every state in the country, Texas has a problem with alcohol-related accidents resulting in injury and death. Efforts to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel after drinking include strict laws and heavy penalties, including high fines, mandatory jail time and license suspension.

Police receive intense training on how to recognize the signs of impairment, such as slurred speech, red eyes and lack of balance. However, you may not have to exhibit such signs for police to arrest you for DWI. Your blood alcohol concentration may be enough evidence to prove you were impaired at the time of your arrest.

Legal limits for blood alcohol concentration

After your arrest, police will ask you to submit to a blood alcohol test, typically a breath or blood test. In most states, the legal blood alcohol concentration limit for impaired driving is .08 percent, although some states are lowering their BAC limits.

Most states also have per se laws. Per se means "by itself," which means if you have a BAC of .08 or higher, police do not need to present further evidence of impairment. Therefore, even if you do not feel any effects of the alcohol you have consumed, your BAC may be enough for you to face DWI charges.

Underage limits and drugged driving

Per se laws also apply to those under the legal drinking age of 21. Although each state has its own statutes, Texas and others have a zero tolerance policy for drivers under 21. If you have not reached the legal drinking age, even a trace of alcohol in your blood is a per se violation. The consequences for an underage driver convicted of DWI can include the loss of your driver's license for a significant amount of time.

While Texas does not have a per se drug impairment law, many other states do, and it is possible this state's laws could change at any time. Meanwhile, you should be aware that having a prescription for a drug such as a narcotic does not excuse you if the drug impairs your abilities driving. Different drugs behave differently in your body, and traces of some may remain in your blood long after their effects have passed, making you vulnerable to arrest.

A per se violation is not necessarily a done deal, and skilled attorneys often challenge the validity of the tests used to obtain BAC levels. Any time you face criminal charges, you face an uncertain future, and you would be wise to reach out for assistance from a trusted source.

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