The Facts About DUI / Drunk Driving in California
No California driver, regardless of age, may operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. Drivers who possess a commercial driver’s license may not drive with a BAC of 0.04 or higher, and repeat DUI offenders may not drive with a BAC of 0.01 or higher. Keep in mind that California has an implied consent law, meaning that if a driver refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test, he or she will be subject to a steep fine and automatic license suspension.
Drivers under the age of 21 may not drive with any open container of beer, wine or liquor in their vehicle, and any underage driver stopped with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.01 or higher has committed a criminal offense. Indeed, drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to consume alcohol in any form, including cough syrup and/or prescription drugs.
Though not explicitly stated under state law, there are three “zones” governing DUI in California. The “White Zone” covers BACs between 0.01 and 0.04, and while drivers under the age of 21 will definitely receive a DUI in this zone, drivers over the age of 21 may not. The “Gray Zone,” in which BACs between 0.05 and 0.07 are considered, will absolutely result in a DUI for an underage driver, and will probably result in a DUI for someone over the age of 21 as well. Finally, the “Black Zone” involves BACs of 0.08 and higher, in which case a DUI is certain, regardless of age.
“Wet Reckless” Pleas
Depending on your case, a plea bargain of “wet reckless” may be accepted by a California prosecutor. A conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol is usually offered as a result of a plea bargain in which a DUI charge is reduced to a case of reckless driving. Common instances in which a “wet reckless” plea may be warranted include those wherein the amount of alcohol is borderline, no one was harmed and the defendant has no prior record.
Your first DUI conviction carries a jail sentence of no less than 96 hours and no more than 6 months, as well as a fine not exceeding $1,000 and the loss of your driver’s license for six months. A second conviction results in jail time ranging anywhere between three months and one year and fines not exceeding $1,000, as well as the loss of your driver’s license for one year. If you are convicted of a third DUI offense, the state of California will consider you a “habitual traffic offender” for the three years following your arrest, and will suspend your driver’s license for two years.
Other Traffic Violations
To learn more about offenses involving helmet, seat belt, cell phone and work zone laws, as well as those concerning drug-related impairment, child safety and/or aggressive driving, contact Jeffrey B. Hayden, Attorney at Law as soon as possible.