Can drivers in Virginia be arrested for DUI the day after drinking?

Due to the time it takes for the body to metabolize alcohol, Virginia motorists may be arrested for DUI the day after drinking.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 20,768 DUI convictions across the state in 2015 alone. For some of these people, their arrests came after they thought they had done everything right, calling a cab or using another driving service to get home. However, alcohol may remain in people's bodies at high levels well into the day after they were drinking. Should drivers in such cases be pulled over, they may be arrested for drunk driving and face a host of potential consequences.

The blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, level is the percentage of alcohol in the blood in a person's body. As most people are aware, motorists in Virginia may be charged with drunk driving if their BAC level is .08 percent or higher.

Measuring alcohol in the body

It is not simply the type of drink they consume or how many alcoholic beverages they drink that affects drivers' BAC levels. This measurement may be affected by several factors, including their gender, body weight and how quickly they consume alcoholic beverages. Whether drivers have had anything to eat may also impact their BAC, as having food in the stomach may slow the absorption process. While taking certain medications may enhance the effects of alcohol on the body, they typically do not change people's alcohol content levels.

Metabolizing alcohol

The body immediately begins the process of eliminating alcohol upon its ingestion. This may be done through breathing, sweat or the process of oxidation. The AAA DUI Justice Link points out that, using these methods, the body eliminates alcohol at an average rate of 0.015 to 0.017 percent per hour. This means it may take anywhere from 75 to 90 minutes for the body to process the alcohol contained in one 12-ounce beer, one five-ounce glass of wine or a shot of distilled spirits.

Reaching the peak

Drivers' BAC levels may not reach their peak for 30 minutes or more after they have stopped drinking. Many people believe they can slow the rise of their BAC and sober up by getting some fresh air, taking a cold shower, exercising, sleeping, drinking some coffee or by employing any other number of remedies. However, time is the only thing that will rid alcohol from a person's system.

For example, a person consumes about two alcoholic beverages per hour between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. The drinker's BAC reaches approximately 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit, by 1:30 a.m. If the body eliminates the alcohol at an average rate of 0.015 percent each hour, the person's BAC level may still be .08 percent at 8:00 a.m. Consequently, the person could be arrested for drunk driving on his or her way to work the day after drinking.

Working with an attorney

Whether their arrest comes shortly after drinking or the next day, DUIs can be financially, personally and professionally taxing on Virginians. Thus, those who have been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving may benefit from obtaining legal representation. A lawyer may help ensure their rights were upheld during their arrest, and aid in establishing a solid criminal defense.