Overview of California’s impaired driving laws

Overview of California’s impaired driving laws

| Jul 7, 2020 | DUI Defense |

Anyone driving on California’s roads must be sober and coherent so they can make appropriate decisions as they head toward their destination. Drivers who are impaired can face criminal charges. This is true whether the impairment is due to drugs, alcohol or a combination of both. Even common medications, such as antihistamines, can lead to these charges if they impair your ability to drive. 

A police officer who notices signs that a driver might be impaired will initiate a traffic stop to determine what’s going on. They can tell you to take a chemical test to determine if there is anything in your system. You do have the right to refuse, but this comes with penalties due to the state’s implied consent law. 

It is difficult for law enforcement to determine the impairment of a person who’s on drugs of any sort, but alcohol has specific limits based on a person’s blood alcohol concentration. The limits are as follows:

  • Commercial vehicles or when a ride-for-hire passenger is in the vehicle: .04%
  • A person under 21 years old: .01%
  • A person over 21 years old: .08%
  • Anyone, regardless of age, who is on DUI probation: .01%

Once you are arrested for impaired driving, you face two different sets of consequences. The court handles criminal matters. The penalties you face depend on whether you have previous convictions, as well as specific conditions that apply to your case. You can face a driver’s license suspension, fines, orders for an ignition interlock device, time in jail, and mandatory participation in a DUI program. There is also an administrative process that’s handled through the Department of Motor Vehicles. This can lead to a driver’s license suspension. 

If you’re arrested for impaired driving, your attorney can help you to explore the defense strategies you have. Don’t put this off because there are strict time limits for some options, such as administrative hearings.