Firm Logo


Legal Alcohol Limit Los Angeles

View Our Five-Star Reviews

In California, the legal alcohol limit is set at 0.08%, but it’s good to know that there can be some variations, especially in Los Angeles. Understanding these details is essential to follow the law and prioritize everyone’s safety.

In this article, we examine the science behind blood alcohol concentration measurements and discuss the special rules for different types of drivers. We’ll also shed light on California’s strict stance on driving under the influence (DUI) and the risks associated with exceeding the legal limit.

For comprehensive knowledge of the legal alcohol limits specific to your case, you can depend on the experience and support of the esteemed Law Offices of Christopher Chaney. With our extensive experience in successfully handling DUI cases, we are committed to providing professional guidance and robust legal representation.

Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is all about measuring the blood alcohol content. It can be measured using a breath or blood test. BAC levels can vary from 0% (no alcohol) to over 0.4%, which is a dangerous blood alcohol level. BAC levels can be determined within 30-70 minutes after you finish your drink. It’s measured in grams per 100 mL of blood, so a BAC of 0.08 means your blood contains 0.08% alcohol.

BAC can be measured in a variety of ways, and the results are crucial to determining DUI charges. Your blood alcohol level is affected by several factors, such as the type and amount of alcohol you consume, your weight, gender, and how fast you consume it. Having an understanding of these variables is essential since they can have a significant impact on your BAC levels.

Methods for Testing BAC

If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, you might have undergone one or more of these tests following a preliminary alcohol screening:

  • Breathalyzer tests: Law enforcement frequently employs breathalyzers to estimate blood alcohol concentration (BAC) through a DUI breath test. These portable devices offer instant results by analyzing the alcohol content in exhaled breath. The accuracy of DUI breath tests, particularly those obtained through fuel cell sensor tests, is widely acknowledged and admissible as evidence in DUI cases.
  • Blood tests: DUI blood tests are the most dependable way to measure BAC levels. Remember that they can be more invasive and time-consuming than other testing methods. It is essential to comply with law enforcement’s request for a DUI blood test in California. Refusing these tests could result in penalties. This also applies to breath tests.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: Roadside evaluations check a driver’s physical and mental abilities. California’s most common field sobriety tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn, One-Leg Stand, and Finger-to-Nose tests. Each test assesses different aspects of a driver’s physical and cognitive skills, helping law enforcement officers determine impairment.

In California, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits vary based on the driver’s type and the vehicle they’re operating. So, here are the BAC thresholds you should know in California:

  • Private passenger drivers, 21 and older: If a driver is 21 years or older, they will be considered to be driving under the influence (DUI) when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) surpasses 0.08%.
  • Drivers under 21: California has a strict zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21. According to this policy, individuals who are below the legal drinking age can be charged with a DUI offense if their BAC is 0.01% or higher.
  • Commercial drivers: Commercial vehicle drivers, including those operating company trucks, ride-share drivers (Uber, Lyft), and buses, are deemed to be driving under the influence (DUI) if their BAC exceeds 0.04%.

California’s Stance on DUI

California takes a firm stance on DUI, implementing various policies to deter and punish such behavior. One of these is the “Zero Tolerance Law,” which applies to drivers under 21 and prohibits any amount of alcohol in their bloodstream while driving. So, if you’re in this age group and register a BAC of 0.01% or higher or refuse/fail the alcohol test, you could face DUI charges. As a result, your license may be suspended for a year by the DMV.

Penalties for Exceeding Legal BAC Limits

If you get pulled over for DUI in California, and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limits, you could face harsh penalties. These penalties are determined whether or not it’s your first DUI offense. Here are some possible consequences for exceeding the legal BAC limits in California:

  • First DUI offense: For DUI offenses, penalties can include jail time from 96 hours to six months, fines from $390 to $1,000, up to five years of DUI probation, 3 or 9 months of DUI school, a suspension of your driver’s license for four months or longer, and the requirement of installing an ignition interlock device.
  • Second DUI offense: A second offense carries penalties including 90 days to a year in jail, fines of $390 to $1,000, an 18-month (or longer) DUI school program, a two-year license suspension, and mandatory ignition interlock device installation.
  • Third DUI offense: For a third DUI offense, you could face 120 days to a year in jail, fines from $390 to $1,000, a three-year license suspension, a 30-month DUI school program, and an ignition interlock device.
  • Fourth and subsequent DUI offenses: For a fourth DUI, penalties are similar to a third offense. However, you could face up to 16 months or even two to three years in jail. Additionally, fines range from $390 to $1,000. Depending on the circumstances, you may receive a misdemeanor or felony charge.

Get in Touch with the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney for Guidance

Understanding the consequences of BAC and DUI regulations in California is paramount. It extends beyond the legal ramifications to safeguard your well-being and the safety of fellow motorists.

At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we understand the ins and outs of DUI laws in Los Angeles. We aim to help you avoid penalties like fines and license suspensions by providing vigorous legal representation and advice.

If you or your loved one are facing a drunk driving charge or have any questions about BAC limits and testing methods, feel free to reach out to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from our firm. Our team is here to provide professional guidance and personalized assistance, ensuring your case gets the attention it deserves.

Contact us for a free consultation, and let us assist you in confidently navigating the intricacies of the legal system.

Schedule Your Consultation

Regardless of your circumstance, you are not alone in your fight. We are ready to stand by your side and fight for your rights, freedom, and reputation. Contact us today to schedule a free remote or in-person consultation, and let us assist you in finding a solution to your problem.