In North Carolina, in order for the state to prove that you are guilty of DWI, it must show that you were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, there are no real objective means to determine if a specific person is impaired since each person’s physical composition is unique to that person. Even when two people consume the same amount of alcohol, their impairment level could be different. Therefore, the North Carolina General Assembly has set two standards for use in DWI cases.
Proving Impairment in North Carolina DWI Cases
A prosecutor can obtain a DWI conviction by proving one of two things. Either the driver was under the influence of a substance that impaired the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater. Because of the statute, having a BAC of .08 or greater makes you legally impaired. Prosecutors prefer to use the BAC to prove impairment because they can use a breath test or blood test to determine a driver’s BAC. However, breath tests, the most common means of determining BAC, are not completely accurate.
Residual Mouth Alcohol
Residual mouth alcohol can cause a breath test to show a higher BAC than is actually present in the driver’s system. Residual mouth alcohol is something that occurs when alcohol is reintroduced into the mouth during or immediately prior to a breath test. This causes the BAC level to be falsely elevated. There are several reasons why you may have residual mouth alcohol including GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), burping or vomiting within 15 minutes of the breath test and residual alcohol trapped in dentures or bridges.
Most people do not know about residual mouth alcohol or understand how this can falsely raise a BAC level to levels above those permitted by law. If the breath test operator conducting the test did not instruct the driver to remove dentures or begin the 15-minute waiting period if the driver exhibited any symptoms associated with GERD, burped or vomited, the BAC readings could be falsely elevated.
It is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced DWI attorney to discuss your legal options before you make any decisions about your DWI charge. There may be a valid, legal argument to challenge the results of the breath test. Your best chance at defeating a DWI charge is to have an experienced Jacksonville DWI lawyer at your side to fight to protect your rights throughout the criminal defense process.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville DWI Attorney
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