Drunk driving fatalities in the US have decreased by nearly 50% since the 1980s, however alcohol and substance impaired driving remains a serious problem. In 2018, according to the US Department of Transportation, 29% of total motor vehicle fatalities were due to alcohol impairment where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. The state ranks as 36th in severity of DUI in California. In 2018, there were over 127,000 DUI arrests and over 1,000 DUI fatalities.
What is a DUI Charge?
DUI is an acronym for “driving under the influence” and means that you were found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. According to the California DMV, if an officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of drugs, they can legally require the driver to take a blood or urine test. If a person refuses these tests they can be subject to longer drivers license suspensions and revocations. It is illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of:
- 0.08% or higher (driver over 21 years old)
- 0.01% or higher (driver under 21 years old)
- 0.01% or higher at any age if the person is on DUI probation
- 0.04% or higher in any vehicle requiring a CDL (with or without CDL issued to the driver)
- 0.04% or higher when a passenger for hire is in the vehicle at the time of offense
What is BAC?
A driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) is based on the ratio of alcohol to blood or breath and is a measure of the amount of alcohol that is circulating in a person’s bloodstream.The BAC is expressed in terms of weight (milligrams) per unit volume (milliliters). The BAC is the amount of alcohol present in 100 milliliters or 1 deciliter of blood. A BAC of 0.08 means that there is 0.08 grams of alcohol in 100mL of blood. A person’s BAC can vary depending on the individual regardless of how many drinks were consumed. When a person drinks alcoholic beverages, the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body and to the brain which can affect a person’s cognitive functions.
California has two primary DUI laws for adult drivers:
- Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC, which makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, and
- Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC, which makes it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08% or greater
Most people arrested for DUI in California get charged with both of these sections. The penalties for driving under the influence can vary depending on whether you had prior DUIs on your record and if anyone was injured as a result of your driving under the influence.
An “alternative” sentence option to county jail or California State Prison in some cases could include treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.
Should I Go to Rehab If I Am Charged With a DUI in California?
The information provided is designed to be used for educational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. We would recommend that individuals who have been arrested for drinking and driving under the influence to seek the advice of a licensed attorney and acquire legal representation.
If you are convicted of a DUI of either drugs, alcohol or both, and you have a BAC level above the legal limit, the court may sentence you to serve up to six months in jail and pay a fine the first time you are convicted. If there was serious injury or death to someone as a result of your DUI, you may face additional charges. The DUI conviction will also remain on your DMV record for 10 years and there may be more stringent penalties if you have additional violations during your probationary period.
In some cases, you might be given the opportunity to attend rehabilitation treatment instead of serving a jail sentence. There are certain variables that will determine eligibility to attend court mandated treatment as an alternative to incarceration, but you may still decide after your DUI charge that you need formal substance abuse treatment. While not everyone who gets a DUI is an alcoholic or addict, it may be a sign that there are underlying issues leading you to problem drinking or substance use.
Many who have experienced legal pressures to attend alcohol or substance abuse treatment can increase treatment attendance and improve retention. Most studies suggest that outcomes for those who were legally pressured to enter treatment are just as good or better than outcomes for those who enter treatment voluntarily. Since treatment effectiveness increases with duration of treatment and staying in treatment, court mandated treatment patients may have additional motivation since leaving treatment may mean jail time.
Alcohol Rehab in California
California’s treatment centers boast some of the country’s best drug and alcohol rehabilitation services. If you or your loved one are currently struggling with alcohol and/or struggling to avoid driving while under the influence, Asana Recovery can help. Contact Asana Recovery or give us a call today at 949-763-3440. Our trained professionals will walk you through the admissions process and make sure all of your questions are answered. The first step is admitting you need help, and is often the hardest. Once you take that first step, there will be a team on your side to help you be successful in your new future.