Understanding Your Limitations
At present, the legal blood alcohol limit in California is .08; however, the state is giving serious considerations to lowering the limit to .05. Obviously this will have a massive impact on how people will have to gauge their alcohol consumption at any given time.
In addition to making sure that you understand the limitations that the state has placed on you with the current and pending laws, you may also need to have knowledge of the subsequent consequences associated with violating these limitations.
- For motorist over the age of 21, the general knowledge rule of .08 is in effect until further notice, but for those motorist operating a motor vehicle, who are under the age of 21, the limitation are more restrictive, only allowing a .01 blood alcohol level.
The manner in which you transport alcohol in your vehicle is also very stringently regulated by the state.
- No consumption of alcohol is permitted inside of a vehicle.
- Any open containers in the vehicle constitutes consumption, even if the containers are totally empty.
- A container of beer, wine or liquor that is carried in the car must be full, sealed and unopened. If the container does not meet these criteria, it must be transported in the trunk of the car.
The rules for minors in the area are even more stringent, requiring that an adult be present while alcohol is being transported, regardless of the condition of the container and where it is stored.
Here are the basic parameters that define illegal BAC in California:
- BAC cannot exceed .08 if the person is over the age of 21
- BAC cannot exceed .01 if the person is under the age of 21
- BAC cannot exceed .01 if the person is currently on DUI probation, regardless of age
- BAC cannot exceed .04 for anyone driving a vehicle requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL), regardless to whether the driver has a CDL or not
Living With The Consequences
The consequences for these offenses vary as well. For instance,
- An adult over the age of 21 who violates the open container law can be cited on the location and released.
- For a person under the age of 21 who is in the possession of alcohol (meaning that alcohol is located anywhere within the car) is subject have the car seized and impounded for up to 30 days.
- The court also has the latitude to charge the driver with a penalty as high as $1,000 as well as suspend their license for up to a year.
Anyone who is found guilty of violating the legal BAC can be arrested and charged with DUI.
- The first offense is considered a misdemeanor, but subsequent violations can escalate the charges to a felony.
- Drivers found guilty of DUI can have their license suspended and they may be required to complete an educational program before having their license reinstated.
Alcohol related laws in California are constantly evolving, which means that the responsibilities and rights of California residents concerning these laws will also be evolving. It will be up to the residents to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them as well as what are their rights with respect to these laws.