What is a dangerous blood alcohol content (BAC) level in California? The legal answer to this question is fairly simple. Any BAC level that impairs your ability to drive a vehicle is dangerous. This level may vary from one driver to the next.
However, the court system in California usually requires drivers to keep their BAC under 0.08%. There are a few exceptions to this rule. You could even face charges for driving under the influence (DUI) if your BAC is below the limit. Find out more about BAC levels and DUI charges here.
California’s Legal Limit for DUI Cases
The state of California requires most drivers to maintain a BAC under 0.08% if they are going to operate a motor vehicle. Drivers with a BAC at or above 0.08% may face DUI charges because they are considered dangerous to others. Some drivers must maintain a lower BAC. For example:
- Drivers under 21 must have a BAC under 0.01%
- Commercial drivers must keep a BAC under 0.04%
These are the basic legal limits for BAC in the state of California. You can learn more about California’s DUI laws by reaching out to a lawyer.
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Dangerous BAC Levels Under the Legal Limit
You may face criminal charges any time you operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The truth is, alcohol does not affect all drivers in the same way. You may become impaired by alcohol even if your BAC is under the legal limit in some situations.
Some drivers are impacted by alcohol because they are smaller or because they weigh less than others. You may be more affected by alcohol if you did not eat before you drank something. Some people are just naturally more impacted by alcohol.
A police officer may arrest you if you appear inebriated, even if your BAC is under the legal limit. The officer may ask you to complete field sobriety tests to determine whether you are impaired. They may ask you to walk in a straight line, for example.
Failure to successfully complete these tests could result in DUI charges. This is because alcohol impairment is dangerous on the road. Prosecutors may charge you under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) even if your BAC is below the legal limit.
You Do Not Have to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test
Failure to pass a field sobriety test could result in a DUI, which is why you should decline to participate in this test if an officer requests it. Nobody is required to take a field sobriety test, and there is no benefit to you in doing so. While these tests are more difficult for those who are impaired, intoxicated people can sometimes pass, and unintoxicated people often fail.
Passing a field sobriety test will not do much to help in your defense, but failing could lead to an arrest, even if you haven’t had a drop of alcohol.
Similarly, most drivers are not required to submit to a chemical test unless they have already been arrested. The exceptions to this are drivers under the age of 21 and those who have a prior DUI on their record. Do not submit to any tests unless required. There is no benefit to doing so, and a faulty result could land you in jail.
Dangers of Driving With a Very High BAC in California
Some drivers operate a vehicle with a BAC well above the legal limit. They may feel that they are capable of driving even after drinking more than other drivers. The penalties for a DUI actually increase in California if your BAC is very high.
Drivers with a BAC at or above 0.15% may have their license suspended for up to 10 months. The court may allow these drivers to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in some cases. IIDs enable a driver to continue operating their vehicle. However, you must complete a BAC test each time you start your car.
The court may also order drivers to attend an alcohol education program. Note that these restrictions stack on top of other penalties for a DUI conviction. This means you may also face jail time and fines if you are convicted of a DUI.
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Build a Defense for DUI Charges in California
You may face DUI charges if a police officer claimed that you had a dangerous BAC level. However, this does not mean you will automatically get convicted. A DUI lawyer could work to build a defense for you. Your lawyer may even dispute the results of a BAC test.
Breathalyzers are commonly used to assess BAC at the scene of a DUI arrest. However, these tests must be performed properly to return accurate results. A lawyer could work to show that a police officer:
- Waited too long to administer the test
- Did not store the test properly prior to administration
- Did not perform the test properly
Your lawyer could also review the actions of the lab to see if they mishandled your BAC test. A lawyer could take many steps to show that your BAC was not at a dangerous level. These steps could help them build you a strong defense right now.
A High BAC Can Also Be Dangerous to Your Health
While a BAC of above 0.08% is considered dangerous for operating a vehicle, a BAC of above 0.40% is considered extremely dangerous to your personal health. Blood alcohol concentration between 0.08% and 0.40% can leave you severely impaired and can certainly cause illness, especially if you are a habitual drinker.
However, when your BAC rises about 0.40%, your personal health is in severe danger, and overconsumption could result in coma or death.
Talk to a Lawyer About a Dangerous BAC Level
You may face criminal charges if you have a dangerous BAC level. Any BAC level that impairs your ability to drive may be considered dangerous. A DUI lawyer may help if you are accused of having a high BAC level. Just contact the Simmrin Law Group to get help. Call us or fill out our online contact form.
We provide our clients with a free consultation, so reach out to us now.