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California Considering Lowering BAC Limit to 0.05California lawmakers are trying to follow Utah’s lead by becoming the second state in the U.S. to lower its blood alcohol concentration limit from 0.08 to 0.05. Utah enacted the change to its driving under the influence of alcohol law at the end of 2018. California wasted little time in proposing a bill that would make the same change. Even if this bill fails to pass through the assembly, lawmakers may continue to propose this legislation until enough of their colleagues join them. Proponents of lowering the BAC limit claim that it will discourage drunk driving and reduce the number of DUI fatalities. However, opponents argue that the change would punish more drivers while doing little to save lives. There are three points that support this argument:

  1. Low Level of Impairment: Statistics on drunk driving fatalities consistently show that the average BAC for drivers is around 0.15, which is almost double the current legal limit. There is no statistical evidence that proves that drivers whose BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08 are a significant cause of driving fatalities. Instead, scientific studies have concluded that drivers show greater signs of impairment when they are using hands-free phones than when they have a BAC of 0.05. Hands-free phone conversations are not only legal but considered more responsible than other forms of distracted driving.
  2. Ease of Reaching Limit: Your gender, age, and weight can determine how much alcohol you must consume to reach the BAC limit. Women and people who weigh less tend to be more affected by alcohol, and older people need longer to metabolize the alcohol in their bodies. A woman who weighs 120 pounds could reach a 0.05 BAC after little more than a 12 oz. beer or a 5 oz. glass of wine. A 200-pound woman would be legally intoxicated after two such drinks. Even a 240-pound man could have a 0.05 BAC after three such drinks.
  3. Creating More Offenders Than Threats: The BAC limit is an estimate of what amount of blood alcohol will make someone legally impaired. There are drivers who show no signs of impairment when their BAC is at 0.08, let alone 0.05. However, police may stop drivers for reasons that are unrelated to their ability to drive. If the officer suspects alcohol consumption and performs a BAC test, the driver may be charged with DUI despite not being a danger to others on the road. Lowering the BAC limit will increase the frequency of these types of arrests.

Contact a San Francisco DUI Defense Lawyer

A DUI conviction has serious consequences, such as a driver’s license suspension, fines, and possible jail time. A Napa, California, DUI defense attorney at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., can protect you against DUI charges and penalties. To schedule a free consultation, call 415-729-7300.

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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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