Drunk Driving Laws in California

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Drunk driving is a serious crime that can carry severe penalties. Laws and penalties dealing with drunk driving are only going to become stricter in the future in an effort to prevent deadly drunk driving accidents. Drivers in California should be aware of the following laws:

  • Drivers under 21 may not carry unsealed beer, wine or liquor in their vehicle while they are driving alone. (Some exceptions exist for work related driving)
  • Drivers under 21 may not drive with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of .01% or higher.
  • Drivers under 21 may not consume alcohol in any form, including cough syrup, and prescription drugs.
  • No driver can operate a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher.
  • The driver of any vehicle requiring a commercial driver’s license may not drive with a BAC of .04% or higher.
  • A driver under the age of 18 may not drive with any measurable blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
  • If you are a repeat DUI offender, you may not drive with a BAC of .01% or higher.

As you can see, drunk driving laws are strict, especially toward minors and repeat offenders. California has a zero tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 18. California is not unique in its measurement for DUI cases. California’s DUI law prohibits a person from driving when they have a BAC of .08% or higher, which is the standard measurement used by all states to determine if the driver is impaired.

Using the Blood Alcohol Concentration Chart

The State of California has provided the table shown below to demonstrate guidelines for drinking and driving. It is important to understand that this chart is not a legal reference for how much alcohol can be consumed before you are considered a drunk driver or over the legal limit. This should only be used as a reference if you are looking for basic guidelines.

BAC Chart

white White: .01% to .04% This definitely is a DUI for drivers under 21 and may be a DUI for drivers over 21.
gray Gray: .05% to .07% This definitely is a DUI for drivers under 21 and is likely to be a DUI for drivers over 21.
black Black: .08% and up This definitely is a DUI for all drivers.

When using the chart, find your weight and compare it to the total number of drinks you have had within the time interval shown. If your BAC level is in the gray zone your chances of having a drunk driving related accident are five times higher than if you had no drinks at all. If your BAC is in the black zone, your chances are up to twenty-five times higher.

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or would like to schedule your free initial consultation, please contact us today at (559) 222-5800. Hablamos español.