Consideration of a Per Se Law for Driving Under the Influence

Report No: 81-R25

Published in 1980

About the report:

This study addressed the question, raised by Eleventh District House Delegate Joan Jones, of whether §18.2-266 of the Code of Virginia should be amended to prohibit a person from operating a motor vehicle when the alcohol content of his blood is above a specified level. The provision currently makes it unlawful to drive "under the influence of alcohol".

Under the proposed amendment, a BAL of 0.10% or above would no longer be presumptive evidence of DUI; it would be a violation in and of itself. The old offense of "driving under the influence" would be maintained, however, to cover both those cases in which no chemical evidence is available and those cases in which the BAL is less than 0.10% but the defendant's driving is impaired. Secondly, a BAL between 0.08% and 0.10% would raise the presumption of DUI. The proposed amendment would not change the penalties established for DUI in §§18.2-270 and 18.2-i!(b) of the Code of Virginia.

The purpose of this report is to assess the impact of such a change in Virginia's drunken-driving laws. Specific objectives include a determination of the proposed amendment's effect on the prosecution, enforcement, and deterrence of drinking and driving offenses.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Richard C. Mapp

Last updated: January 22, 2024

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