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How Massachusetts per se laws can lead to criminal charges

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | DUI/OUI |

Chemical testing for impairment is a common reaction to a major collision. Law enforcement professionals will usually want to rule out intoxication as a potential cause when investigating a recent collision. Some people get arrested at the scene of a crash even when they firmly believe they were not at fault for the wreck because they failed a chemical test.

Many others might get arrested after a targeted traffic stop for the same reason. Officers in Massachusetts can pull someone over when their actions make it look like they may be under the influence or when there are signs of other primary traffic infractions. An officer might then request chemical testing because of how someone answers questions or behaves during a traffic stop. Even those who feel like they are sober enough to safely drive could end up prosecuted for impaired driving if they fail a chemical test result because of the law in Massachusetts.

What are per se drunk driving laws?

Most people know that it is illegal to drive with alcohol or another intoxicant impeding their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Drivers are also largely aware that the state has imposed a legal limit on the alcohol that they can have in their bodies while driving.

Most people assume that if their driving skill is sufficient, they won’t have to worry about their actual blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, the nature of per se blood alcohol limits makes it a crime to be over the statutory limit regardless of how well someone might operate a vehicle in that situation. A per se limit makes it a crime to be over that limit in and of itself, regardless of any other elements of the situation. Someone who feels as though their driving was perfectly safe could still end up arrested and at risk of a criminal conviction if they fail the chemical test administered during a traffic stop.

How people fight per se charges

People often assume that they cannot avoid a conviction if they fail a breath test, but they are wrong. Many per se offenses are situations in which the only compelling evidence of a criminal offense is the result of someone’s chemical test. Therefore, raising questions about the accuracy of the test results or the legality of the traffic stop that resulted in the test could be a viable defense strategy. Those who sincerely question the accuracy of test results may have a medical explanation for why their BAC seems to be over the legal limit or may have reason to question if there may have been an issue with the device used to test them.

As a result, understanding the Massachusetts laws that apply after a drunk driving arrest may help those hoping to avoid a conviction. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to gain additional clarity.

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