Many California drivers have heard that the law defines driving under the influence for drivers 21 or older as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. Your blood alcohol content can be determined with a breath, blood, or urine test.
It can be hard to determine when you have reached that limit. The effects of alcohol on your system can depend on several factors including your gender, height and weight, tolerance, and food you have consumed. Some people may hit the 0.08 limit after just one drink.
BAC isn’t the only factor
While most people think you have to have a 0.08 BAC to receive a DUI if stopped by law enforcement, driving while impaired even with a BAC under 0.08 can also result in a DUI.
In California, if you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, you will likely be charged with violating California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and 23152(b). If your BAC is under 0.08, you will not be charged under 23152(b), but if the officer observes any signs of intoxication, you may still face charges under 23152(a). Some of these signs include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Smell of alcohol
- Unsteady gait
- Slurred speech
- Erratic driving behaviors (e.g., swerving, speeding, excessively slow driving)
- Failing field sobriety tests
The prosecution will likely have a more difficult time proving their case against you with a blood alcohol content below 0.08, but it is still very possible for them to do so. A criminal defense attorney can come up with an effective strategy to help you avoid the worst consequences of a DUI conviction.