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What is a technical or per se DWI violation?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2024 | Drunk Driving |

People in New York can get arrested for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense if they cause a crash. They might face charges if they fail a breath test and/or if they drive poorly and attract an officer’s attention on the road.

Some people face charges based on their display of allegedly impaired driving ability, while others face charges based on technical violations of the law. Police officers and state prosecutors may not claim that a motorist drove poorly but instead that they violated New York state statutes about alcohol by drinking too much before getting behind the wheel.

What constitutes a technical or per se DWI infraction in New York?

Technical infractions relate to blood alcohol levels

The DWI statute in New York makes it illegal to drive when someone knows that alcohol or other substances have affected their abilities. However, someone can believe that they are perfectly capable of driving and still be at risk of a DWI arrest. The law makes it illegal on its own to have too much alcohol in one’s bloodstream.

Technical infractions are just as illegal as someone getting behind the wheel while visibly impaired by alcohol. For the average driver who is at least 21 years old and in control of a personal motor vehicle, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit that applies is 0.08%. Regardless of someone’s driving skill, test results of over 0.08% could lead to their arrest and prosecution.

A teenager who is not yet old enough to legally drink could face criminal charges with a BAC of 0.02% due to New York’s zero-tolerance law for underage drivers. Someone driving a commercial vehicle like a semi-truck could face technical or per se DWI charges for a BAC of 0.04%.

A per se violation is an offense regardless of impairment. Simply being over the legal BAC limit is a crime on its own. The state does not need any proof that the alcohol affected someone’s driving ability if there are test results affirming that they are over the technical limit given the type of license that they have.

The defense strategies that someone might choose in a per se DWI case are different than in cases where police officers allege someone had impaired ability. Learning more about New York’s DWI statutes, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may help people better respond to pending criminal charges.