Seeing flashing lights in your rearview mirror is seldom a good thing. If you recently left a bar, restaurant or party, you may worry that the officer who pulls you over will smell alcohol on your breath and assume you are impaired. While the smell of alcohol is rarely enough for police to take you in for drunk driving, it may be the first of several signs that lead to your arrest.

The deciding factor in a DUI arrest is often the breath test that measures your blood alcohol concentration. You breathe into a device that analyzes the percentage of alcohol in your system. New Hampshire and most other states have set .08 as the limit for your BAC. In fact, if your BAC is .08 or higher, police may need no other evidence to arrest you for drunk driving.

Understanding ‘per se’ laws

Chances are, you know your limits when it comes to alcohol. You may make a point of eating a full meal and pace yourself when you drink, especially if you are driving yourself home. When you leave the bar or restaurant, you feel fine. You may experience no dizziness or imbalance, and officers who pull you over may not notice any slurring of speech. However, the results of a breath test may tell a different story.

New Hampshire’s per se law states that a .08 BAC is, by itself, a crime even if police have no other evidence against you. Officers do not need to show the court the results of your field sobriety tests or testify to your erratic driving. A .08 BAC is all the evidence needed for authorities to presume you are legally impaired.

Open and shut?

Despite the per se laws, the results of your breath test do not mean you have no reason to fight the charges. Keeping in mind that a conviction for drunk driving can have lifelong negative consequences, you would be smart to seek legal assistance for evaluating the evidence against you and building a strong defense.

For example, police agencies that rely on breath tests and per se laws do not always have the knowledge or personnel to keep their breath machines in good repair and well-calibrated. It is not uncommon for a poorly maintained breath machine to yield faulty results. With the help of a skilled attorney, you can exercise your right to challenge any questionable evidence against you.