The past several decades have seen a significant shift in how law enforcement agencies and the general public view driving under the influence (DUI). Today, numerous organizations, lawmakers, and government agencies expend a great deal of effort focusing on DUI laws and motorists who get behind the wheel while impaired. The increased focus has helped the number of alcohol-related accidents generally decrease in many parts of the country – and it caused the number of DUI arrests to significantly rise.
For some lawmakers, today's current legal limit of .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is still not low enough. In fact, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) has been pushing to lower the legal DUI limit throughout the United States to .05% for drivers over the age of 21 – an effort it began more than a year ago. Many states are reluctant to lower the limit, however, including officials in South Carolina who recently stated their disagreement with changes proposed by the NTSB. Many in California are also hesitant about changing the law, as they believe it's not necessary.
In California, drivers can already be arrested for DUI or a related offense with BAC levels less than .08% in a few situations:
- Officers have the ability to arrest drivers under suspicion of DUI if they believe that alcohol has significantly impaired their ability to drive, even if the driver's BAC is less than .08%.
- Drivers under the age of 21 can be charged for DUI with BAC levels of .01% or greater.
- Commercial drivers can be arrested for DUI with BAC levels of .04% or greater.
Aside from the fact that drivers can still be arrested for DUI under the .08% legal limit, many states are also arguing that a majority of DUI arrests involve individuals with BAC levels or .12% - 15% or even greater – making a lower limit unnecessary. In some cases, drivers who register higher BAC levels may also face enhanced penalties. Still, advocates are continuing their push to lower the limit to set a message that drunk driving should never be tolerated. California lowered the legal limit from .10% to .08% in 1990.
Although the battle to lower the legal DUI limit still continues, all California motorists should be aware of the fact that it is possible to be arrested, charged, and penalized for DUI with a BAC level under .08%. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., our Orange County DUI attorneys can help you learn more about your rights after a DUI and how we can protect your freedom and future.
To learn more about your case, contact our firm today or fill out an online case evaluation form.