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California Changes BAC Limit for Ride-Share DriversA new California law went into effect on July 1 that has lowered the threshold to charge ride-share drivers with driving under the influence of alcohol. The law sets the blood alcohol concentration limit for these drivers at 0.04, as opposed to the 0.08 limit for most other drivers. The change is meant to treat ride-share drivers more like commercial drivers in terms of DUI enforcement. Ride-share drivers risk losing their jobs and receiving criminal penalties if they are convicted for a DUI charge.

About the Law

The law added a section to California's vehicle code that states that it is unlawful for a driver to have a BAC of 0.04 or more while also having a passenger for hire in the vehicle. Commercial vehicle drivers, such as taxi drivers, have the same BAC limit. While drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft are considered to be providing the same service as taxi drivers, the same DUI law did not apply to them because:

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How Has Legal Marijuana Affected DUI Rates?Since states first started legalizing recreational marijuana use a couple of years ago, there has been a debate as to whether the new laws have caused an increased number of impaired driving incidents in those states. Those who believe it has caused an increase will cite arrest statistics for driving under the influence charges in which the suspects had THC in their systems. Skeptics argue that the testing procedures do not definitively prove when marijuana use is responsible for impaired driving. With the recency of California’s legalization, it may take years to determine how the new law has affected DUI incidents and arrests.

Bay Area Data

The California Highway Patrol suspects that a San Jose man was under the influence of marijuana when he allegedly caused a fatal crash in Fremont in May. The CHP’s Golden Gate Division released statistics of DUI arrests involving marijuana in 2017, which was before the new marijuana law was enacted. According to the statistics:

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Posted on in DUI

Has Ride-Sharing Decreased DUI Arrests?A recent study by the University of California at Davis and a research firm discovered that arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs have decreased in many major California cities. Researchers found that DUI arrests decreased during a two-year period by:

  • 14 percent in the San Francisco-Oakland area;
  • 14 percent in Los Angeles;
  • 26 percent in Sacramento;
  • 28 percent in San Jose; and
  • 32 percent in San Diego.

Researchers hypothesized that increased use of ride-sharing services may be part of the reason for the decrease, a claim that companies such as Uber have touted for years. The time period of the study corresponded with the introduction of ride-sharing services in some of the cities. However, there is not a clear causation between the use of ride-sharing services and DUI arrest statistics.

How Ride-Sharing Helps

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Posted on in DUI

Why DUI Suspects Can Be Charged with MurderSecond-degree murder is the most serious charge you can face after an alleged driving under the influence incident. DUI murder charges in California are commonly called Watson murders because the policy stems from the 1980s case of People v. Watson, in which the California Supreme Court ruled that a DUI offender can be charged with murder. A DUI murder conviction can result in a prison sentence of 15 years to life and a fine of as much as $10,000.

Murder vs. Manslaughter

When someone dies as a result of an alleged DUI incident, prosecutors can charge the defendant with negligent vehicular manslaughter, gross vehicular manslaughter, or second-degree murder. Manslaughter is a serious charge but does not have as severe of penalties as murder. Manslaughter is a more common charge than second-degree murder because prosecutors need to prove the intent behind the incident:

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Posted on in DUI

DUI Arrests Are Down, But Not for WomenThe number of driving under the influence arrests in the U.S. has steadily decreased in the past decades. At the same time, there has been an unsettling increase in DUI arrests among women. To be clear, men still make up 75 percent of all DUI arrests. However, women were only 18 percent of the arrests as recent as 2003. An FBI study estimated that the number of female DUI arrests increased by 20 percent from 2003 to 2012. The most recent gender data in 2015 showed that the number has decreased slightly, though still nowhere near the 2003 arrest levels. Trying to understand the trend, researchers have largely hypothesized that women’s changing societal role has led to the increase in DUI arrests.

Work-Related Drinking

People in the workforce may partake in drinking as a social activity with co-workers or a means of relieving stress. The trend of an increased number of women in the workforce started long before the more recent increase in DUI arrests. However, women’s statuses in workplaces have seen more recent improvements. Women are more likely to hold positions that are the equal of men and thus may be invited to more social outings at restaurants and bars. DUI arrests often follow a night of drinking with friends or co-workers.

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