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Lowering the Legal Limit for California DUIs

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Dec 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

Drivers in California know that if they have a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, they can face a DUI conviction. However, one lawmaker is looking to lower the legal limit in an effort to reduce drunk driving accidents. If the law is passed, California would have a lower BAC limit of 0.05% for a per se DUI. 

Lowering the Legal Limit for a California DUI 

Historically, legal limits for drunk driving varied from state to state. California adopted the 0.08% BAC limit in 1990. At the time, California was only the 4th state to have the 0.08% limit. Other states set their limits at 0.10%, 0.12%, or even 0.15%. After federal transportation funding required a minimum BAC of 0.08%, all states eventually adopted the same legal limit. 

In California, drivers under 21 are subject to a zero-tolerance policy and can face an underage DUI with any measurable alcohol in their blood while driving. Commercial drivers in their commercial vehicles also have a stricter limit of 0.04% BAC. Drivers with a BAC of 0.15% or higher may have increased jail time or penalties as an aggravating DUI factor. 

Following Utah and Other States Looking to Lower the Limit 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has made a recommendation to lower the per se BAC limit of 0.05 or lower for all drivers. So far, only Utah has taken that recommendation with a new DUI law. On December 30, 2018, Utah became the first state to lower its BAC limit from 0.08% to 0.05%. 

According to the NTSB, research suggests that crash risks involving alcohol are increased when a driver's BAC reaches 0.05%. Lowering the BAC could result in reduced alcohol-involved traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities. 

Other states have proposed laws that would lower the DUI alcohol level to 0.05%, in accordance with the NTSB recommendations, including MichiganNew York, and Washington

California Proposal to Lower the DUI Limit

Assembly Bill 1713 was introduced by Autumn Burke of Marina del Rey that would lower the blood alcohol content limit from 0.08% to 0.05%. Specifically, Vehicle Code 23152(b) would make it “unlawful for a person who has 0.05 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in their blood to drive a vehicle.”

Testing BAC Limits with Inaccurate Chemical Tests

Unfortunately, a number of innocent people face criminal charges with inaccurate breath testing devices. Lowering the legal limit could mean even more people would face a DUI when the tests showed the driver was above the legal limit, even if the driver was not impaired. 

If a blood, breath, or urine test showed you were over the limit and you are facing criminal DUI charges, talk to your East Bay DUI defense attorney about ways to challenge these problematic tests and avoid a criminal conviction. 

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of DUI experience and understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success, keeping her clients out of jail and driving on the road  Representing healthcare workers in Contra Costa and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, and the local officers and prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for over 38 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the Immediate Past President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense. Lynn is a Specialist Member of the California DUI Lawyers Association and lectures frequently to other attorneys regarding DUI and DMV issues.


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