California Alcohol Laws
Even if you have lived in California for a while, you may not be familiar with all of the state’s alcohol laws. Although all residents should be at least somewhat aware of these regulations, they are especially important to those facing DUI charges.
California , like most states, allows individuals over the age of 21 to consume alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are sold in convenience, grocery and retail stores from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. each day. As you probably know, operating a vehicle while drinking alcohol is illegal. In fact, if you are driving and have an open container – even if it was opened earlier and has not been consumed within the vehicle – you are required by law to carry it in the backseat of your car.
The legal blood-alcohol-content in California is .08%. Anything over this amount is considered legally intoxicated and according to state law, no additional evidence is required to prove guilt.
However, if you are not yet 21, you can be convicted of DUI if your blood-level-content is .01% or higher. These so-called “zero tolerance” laws are intended to prevent alcohol consumption by minors. Additionally, offenders under the age of 21 are also usually required to attend an alcohol education program.
Regardless of age, if you are driving with a blood-alcohol-content over .16%, you face more serious charges and more severe sentences. At this level of intoxication, you may be ordered to attend an alcohol treatment program and serve time on probation.
You are probably now wondering about the consequences of driving under the influence in California. For first-time offenders, your license will be suspended for four moths. On your second offense, you may lose your license for two years. If you receive a third offense, your driver’s license can be suspended for three years. In addition, the judge may decide to confiscate your vehicle or order you to install an ignition interlock device in your car. Once you have four DUI convictions on your record, any further offense is considered a felony.
But failing a breath is not the only way you can be charged with DUI. In California, if you are pulled over for DUI, you are legally required to submit to a breath, urine or blood analysis. If you refuse, you are breaking the law and can be charged with DUI, regardless of whether or not you were actually intoxicated at the time. A refusal may also result in the loss of your license for up to one year.
If you have been charged with DUI, failed or refused a blood test or just need help understanding California alcohol laws, you should contact an experienced DUI lawyer immediately.