There are many different terms associated with drunk driving throughout the country. One term you may not be familiar with is “general impairment drunk driving.” In many states, this refers to drunk driving cases involving a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is only slightly over the legal limit.
While general impairment drunk driving may not involve the consumption of large amounts of alcohol, it is still considered a criminal act. Find out more about charges for driving under the influence (DUI) in California, the results of a conviction, and how BAC is measured here with the Simmrin Law Group.
BAC Limits in the State of California
Before we move further into discussing the differences between general impairment drunk driving and DUIs involving excessive BAC, we should establish the standard regulations for drunk driving in California. Drivers throughout the state may be prosecuted if their BAC is:
- At or above 0.08% if they are over 21
- At or above 0.04% if they are a commercial driver
- At or above 0.01% if they are under 21
These are the basic BAC levels used to prosecute DUI cases. Any driver that exceeds these limits may be charged with a general DUI.
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Basic DUI Charges in Los Angeles
California does not have a criminal charge set aside specifically to prosecute general impairment drunk driving. However, the state does differentiate between drivers with a relatively low BAC and those with a very high BAC.
We have discussed the basic limits on BAC as set forth by the court system. Drivers over 21 who greatly exceed this limit may face charges for having an excessive BAC. Generally, drivers can face this sentencing enhancement if their BAC is measured at 0.15% or higher.
Drivers with this high BAC may face harsher penalties under Vehicle Code Section 23578 if they are convicted.
Comparing Basic DUI Charges and Excessive BAC DUI Charges
Now that you understand the legal distinction between a general DUI and a DUI involving an excessively high BAC, we can review the penalties for these charges. A basic DUI – or general impairment drunk driving – can result in:
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Jail time of up to six months
- License suspension of up to one year
Drivers who are found to have an excessively high BAC will face sentencing enhancements. These can include:
- A lengthier license suspension
- Extra months of mandatory DUI classes
- Additional jail time
- Higher fines
- A longer period of probation
- Additional community service
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help drivers accused of a basic DUI as well as those accused of having an excessively high BAC.
Some DUI Charges Don’t Involve BAC in California
It is also important that you realize that not all DUI charges are tied to a driver’s BAC in the state of California. In fact, drivers can be arrested and charged with a DUI even if their BAC is below the legal limit.
Law enforcement officers are allowed to charge drivers with a DUI if they operate a vehicle as though they are intoxicated. This action is supported by the claim that different people have different alcohol tolerances. One person might be relatively sober with a BAC of 0.05%, while another person could be dangerous behind the wheel.
DUIs for drivers with a BAC under the legal limit is still prosecuted very harshly. These drivers can face the same penalties as drivers who violated the legal restrictions on BAC in Los Angeles.
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Measuring BAC in Los Angeles
As you can see, a driver’s BAC level can impact the charges they will face if they are accused of a DUI. Generally, BAC will be measured with chemical testing. The breathalyzer test is one common form of chemical testing used throughout California.
This test can report a driver’s BAC. However, law enforcement officers must follow specific steps to correctly complete the test. If they do not carry out these steps correctly, the breathalyzer can return inaccurate results.
Additionally, the breathalyzer has a reputation for providing false-positive results in some situations. This means that, if your BAC was reported as above the legal limit, a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles could dispute your test results, weakening the charges you are facing.
Get Legal Help with General Impairment Drunk Driving
You should take any charge of drunk driving in California seriously. You can get professional help on your side quickly if you reach out to the Simmrin Law Group. Let our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles assess the charges you are facing with a FREE consultation.
Call (310) 896-2723 or complete our online contact form to learn more about any DUI charge you are facing in California.