Person driving under the influence with alcohol in handThe Dangers of Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the biggest road safety problems in the United States alone; it is also a choice irresponsible persons make, which means it is a preventable problem. In this article, our San Diego car accident lawyer explains more about DUI laws in California.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 30 percent of 35,000 people who died in car accidents last year were involved in alcohol-related crashes. This is a staggering statistic and one that should be taught in the schools at an early age. With this alarming finding, traffic experts estimate that 36 people are killed by drunk drivers every day in this country.

In another recent NHTSA survey, three out of ten people will encounter an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives, and this finding shows that this alcohol-related problem is widespread and affects people from all walks of life (it is not just tied to the working class or upper class).

In terms of economic cost to the U.S., the country loses more than $50 billion every year due to alcohol-related accidents - some of these costs are absorbed by consumers when there is not enough insurance involved with the alcohol-related accident for instance.

DUI Laws in California

In an effort to reduce the fatality rate, the state of California implements one of the strictest DUI penalties and laws in the country that aims to keep drunk drivers off the road, such as the following:

California's Zero Tolerance Law

Under this California law, a person who is on DUI probation or has been convicted of several DUI cases is prohibited from driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.01 percent and higher, in each and every case. Violators of this zero tolerance law will face up to 3-year suspension of their driving privileges on California roadways. 

This law also allows courts to require people convicted of several DUI cases to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for up to three years! This device works by detecting the BAC level of a person’s breath, and if it detects that the alcohol level exceeds the limit ordered by a court or judge, it will simply not start the engine, thus preventing drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel at all.

Sad that it has had to come to this, but what else can be done to get people from behind the wheel when they decide to drink and then drive? I think you need to examine the behavior of the mind of the person who is making the decision to drink and drive.

California BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) limits

Adults who are not under DUI probation are required to follow the 0.08 percent BAC level. Anything, any measurement, above this limit is considered legally drunk/intoxicated. However, the alcohol limit is lower for drivers aged 21 years and younger who are prohibited to drive with a BAC level of 0.01 percent and higher. For commercial drivers, they are prohibited from driving with a BAC level of 0.04 percent and higher.

Carrying alcoholic beverages in California vehicles

Under California state law, adult drivers are prohibited from carrying alcohol inside their vehicles at all times unless sealed and full; if not, this should be stored inside the trunk of the vehicle.

Any opened alcoholic beverages stored inside the glove compartment are still considered illegal in California and should not be done - besides, why would you store an opened container of alcohol in the glove box unless you plan on drinking while driving? 

For California minors, this law is stricter since they are prohibited from driving with any alcoholic drinks in their cars, even if these are sealed and full. However, if they are accompanied by an adult, the same law for adult drivers also applies to them too.

California DUI charge (involving drugs apart and separate from alcohol)

Alcohol is not the only drug substance that can impair a driver’s focus and responsiveness. A person in California may also be cited for DUI if an officer finds that he is driving under the influence of drugs, regardless if these are prescribed by doctors or obtained through illegal means.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
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