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

Due to the way the body metabolizes alcohol, people’s BAC levels may not peak until after they are done drinking, which may lead to a next day DUI arrest.

People in Virginia are frequently arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. In fact, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles reports there were more than 24,800 driving under the influence convictions across the state in 2014 alone. For some, their arrests may come after they thought they had done everything right. This is because people may be arrested for drunk driving the day after drinking.

Factors affecting BAC levels

Once consumed, alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and small intestine. Then, the small blood vessels carry alcohol into the bloodstream. The blood alcohol content, or BAC, level is obtained by measuring the amount of alcohol in a person's bloodstream.

Due to the manner in which alcohol is absorbed in the body, there are a number of factors that might affect people's BAC levels. According to the AAA DUI Justice Link, these may include a person's gender, body weight, the strength of the drink he or she consumed, the size of the drink he or she consumed, and the time he or she spent drinking.

Metabolizing alcohol

Alcohol is broken down inside the body by enzymes in the liver. According to Brown University, the liver is able to process about one ounce of alcohol per hour. This is the equivalent of one standard size drink. If people drink more than their livers can metabolize in an hour, then the alcohol builds up in their bodies and blood, and their systems become saturated. Consequently, they might not reach their peak blood alcohol level until well after they have stopped drinking.

According to the AAA DUI Justice Link, it takes time for alcohol to build up in the system. Thus, their BAC level may continue to rise for at least 30 minutes after people have had their last drink. This means that someone who drank two beers per hour from 9 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. might still have a BAC level of .08 percent at 7:30 a.m. As such, he or she could be considered legally drunk the morning after drinking on his or her way to work.

Consulting with an attorney

Drunk driving is considered a serious allegation in Virginia. Whether people are arrested on their way home after a night out or the following morning, the consequences of DUI charges are potentially life-altering. In order to ensure their rights are protected, it may be helpful for those who are facing such charges to obtain legal representation. An attorney may explain the laws as they apply to their cases and their options, as well as help them to build a defense that stands up to the opposition.