What does intoxication mean in a DWI case?

The most common element disputed in a DWI trial is legal intoxication.

The state must prove one of three things to establish a person is legally intoxicated. To summarize-

  1. A person lost the normal use of their mental faculties due to the introduction of drugs or alcoholOR
  2. A person lost the normal use of their physical faculties due to the introduction of alcoholOR
  3. A person has a blood alcohol concentration of a .08 or higher at the time of driving

What does it mean for a person to lose their normal physical or mental faculties? This is extremely subjective. For example:

The average person being pulled over for a DWI test would likely not perform a balancing test as well as Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles might perform the same exact test which is being used to determine one’s physical faculties.

Moreover, a person who is dealing with stress in their personal life from a divorce, work, or health issues may not exhibit the same mental faculties as they normally would, even if they have not consumed any alcohol.

Finally, it is not enough for the prosecutor to produce a breath or blood test at or above a .08, alone. This result must be found to be reliable beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, they must prove that a person’s results were a .08 or higher at the time a person was driving. Often the “at the time of driving” requirement can be difficult for the state to prove if the defense attorney has the proper knowledge and training in the science of retrograde extrapolation.

Simply put, a high BAC does not necessarily mean you will be found guilty of a DWI. It is important to hire a knowledgeable DWI attorney who is experienced in this area, and can show a jury or judge the potential issues involved with the testing methods currently used by the government in DWI cases.