Most California drivers have heard of the so-called legal limit for the amount of alcohol they can consume before driving. Many may say that the limit is 0.08%.
As with so many things in the law, the picture for the legal limit gets much more complicated the closer you look at it.
0.08% of what?
The 0.08% figure refers to blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, police may conduct a field sobriety test at the side of the road, in which they ask you to perform certain tasks that measure your coordination. They may then ask you to blow into a chemical breath test device which is designed to measure your BAC.
If your BAC shows up as 0.08% or higher, you are automatically considered too drunk to drive. Police may also ask you to go to another location where someone can measure your BAC using a blood or urine test.
Note that under some circumstances, you can be found guilty of DUI offenses if your BAC is found to be lower than 0.08%, or even if the prosecution doesn’t have BAC evidence.
If you are under 21 years old and your BAC shows up as even 0.01% you are presumed to be too drunk to legally drive. That tiny limit also applies to you if you are on a DUI probation.
If you are over 21 and working as a commercial driver or driving a passenger for hire, the limit is 0.04%.
It’s also important to that a BAC test is not the only evidence against you. Remember that field sobriety test? The police take notes of how suspects perform on these tests. They also note their own observations, such as whether they smell alcohol on the person’s breath. These notes and observations can be used as evidence.
Defending against DUI charges
If you are charged with DUI offenses, BAC test evidence can be very powerful evidence against you, but that’s all it is: evidence. You still have the right to a defense in court.
If you can chip away at the evidence against you, you can weaken the prosecution’s case and strengthen your chances to protect your rights, your license and your future.