Per Se DWUI in Wyoming

Wyoming law states that:

No person shall drive or have actual physical control of any vehicle within this state if the person:

  • Has an alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths of one percent (0.08%) or more;
  • Has an alcohol concentration of eight one-hundredths of one percent (0.08%) or more, as measured within two (2) hours after the time of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle following a lawful arrest resulting from a valid traffic stop; or
  • To a degree which renders him incapable of safely driving:
  • Is under the influence of alcohol;
  • Is under the influence of a controlled substance; or
    1. Is under the influence of a combination of any of the elements named in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of this paragraph.

A person who violates this law can be charged with Driving While Under the Influence (DWUI).

Section III of the statute is a catch-all provision that allows law enforcement officers to charge a person with drunk driving if they appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Sections I and II, however, identify a specific Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at which a person is legally considered to be under the influence and are the parts of the statute that define a per se DWUI.

What Does It Mean to Be Charged with a Per Se DWUI?

Per se is a Latin phrase that means “by itself.” Driving with a BAC above the legal limit is called a per se DWUI because it is illegal to have the prohibited concentration of alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle, even if you do not appear to be too intoxicated to drive.

If you were operating a motor vehicle and a breath, blood, or urine test records a BAC of .08% or higher, that evidence by itself means that you have committed a crime and are guilty of DWUI. The state does not need to present additional evidence to show you were intoxicated, crossed a center line, or failed a field sobriety test to prove that you were guilty of driving while under the influence.

How Is a Per Se DWUI Different from an Impairment DWUI?

Even if your BAC was less than the .08% limit, you can still be charged with and found guilty of DWUI if the arresting officer can provide specific evidence of impairment, such as that you were weaving, crossed a center line, or failed a field sobriety test.

The difference between an impairment DWUI and per se DWUI is how the prosecution proves that you were under the influence. In an impairment DWUI, the prosecution must prove that you ingested alcohol or drugs that actually affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.

In a per se DWUI, the prosecution only needs to prove that you were driving with an amount of alcohol or drugs in your system that exceeded the legal limit.

Can You Fight a Per Se DWUI?

Many law enforcement officers and some websites claim that you cannot challenge a per se DWUI charge and that hiring an attorney after a per se DWUI charge is a waste of time and money. But a Wyoming per se DWUI charge is less clear than they would have you believe.

Defenses that might be available include:

  • Illegally Obtained Evidence. Blood tests are a common way to test a suspect’s BAC. In most cases, the police need a warrant before they can require a blood test. If the police forced you to submit to a blood test without a warrant, you might be able to have the test results thrown out as illegally obtained evidence.
  • Challenge the Accuracy of the BAC Test. Breath testing machines are highly sensitive pieces of equipment that must be carefully calibrated and regularly tested to provide reliable results. If the police failed to regularly test and calibrate the breath testing machine, the results are unreliable and should not be introduced at trial. Similarly, blood samples that were not stored properly can ferment, leading to artificially high and therefore unreliable test results.
  • Rising BAC Defense. Scientific evidence shows that your BAC does not remain constant when you consume alcohol. After you have stopped consuming alcohol, your BAC will continue to rise until the alcohol is metabolized. To use the rising BAC defense, our team will present expert testimony to show that your BAC continued to rise from the time you were pulled over until your BAC measurement was taken and that you were not under the influence of alcohol at the time you were stopped.

Just Criminal Law Protects Your One Shot at Justice

The criminal defense team at Just Criminal Law has successfully defended clients against a per se DWUI charge. We will conduct an independent investigation to learn about your unique situation and will prepare a thorough defense strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a successful result. We will move to have evidence excluded and try to negotiate for a favorable resolution or even outright dismissal of your case. But if a trial is necessary, we have the experience and expertise to handle even the most complex and technical DWUI cases. We will hold the prosecution to their burden and force them to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Just Criminal Law is based in Gillette, Wyoming, and represents people accused of crimes in Eastern Wyoming and Western South Dakota. We invite you to learn more about our team and how we can help by contacting us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.