In our experience, the average California driver does not fully understand the state’s driving under the influence laws. A lot of licensed drivers have “false” ideas about blood alcohol concentration (BAC), how much is too much alcohol, when they can drive after drinking, and “how” they can be arrested for DUI.
Unfortunately, these misunderstandings are more the norm than the exception and every day, they get people into trouble. The following are the types of beliefs or misunderstandings that we hear regularly after people have been arrested for DUI.
- “I thought I could drive after one to three drinks.”
- “I didn’t feel drunk, so I drove because I thought I was fine.”
- “I have a ‘high tolerance’ to alcohol.”
- “I thought I sobered up with coffee before I drove.”
- “My drinks were mixed with an energy drink, so I felt alert.”
- “I ate a solid meal after I drank so I thought I was sober.”
- “I waited a few hours so I could sober up.”
- “I was less drunk than my friend, so I was the better choice to drive home.”
Each one of these misunderstandings or false beliefs listed above have gotten thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of drivers into legal trouble over the years. Unfortunately, people continue to misunderstand how alcohol affects the body, but more importantly, they fail to understand the laws.
What Does the Law Say?
In California, the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is covered under Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code. Under California law, it’s illegal to:
- Drive under the influence of alcohol.
- Drive under the influence of any drug.
- Drive if you are addicted to any drug.
- Drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
- Drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08%.
One of the main problems is that people know it’s illegal to drive with a BAC above .08%, but they don’t realize that they can get a DUI with a low BAC. So, they’ll have one, two or three alcoholic beverages and assuming their BAC is below .08%, they’ll get behind the wheel. When in fact, it is possible to be charged with DUI, even if one’s BAC is below .08%. The state merely has to prove that the driver’s ability to drive was impaired by alcohol, or by a drug, including marijuana or a prescription drug.
If you have two or three drinks and drive, you’re still taking a risk. So, our advice is to have a strict “no drinking and driving” policy. Otherwise, you can find yourself facing DUI charges. We recommend downloading the Uber and Lyft apps on your cellphone, this way if you do end up drinking and it wasn’t planned, you have a safe ride home and you eliminate the chances of a DUI.