The current blood alcohol concentration limit in California and in most states is 0.08 percent for a driver 21 years or older. Now the National Traffic Safety Board, or NTSB, wants states—including California—to lower the legal limit. In fact, the NTSB wants every state of decrease the 0.08 percent by 0.03 percent. This means a BAC of 0.05 percent would be sufficient enough to arrest and charge a driver with driving under the influence. The NTSB has been pushing for a lower BAC level since 2013.

Not So Fast

For more than 70 years, American society’s stance on DUI has shifted. A plethora of government agencies, private organizations and lawmakers have pushed for and succeeded making DUI laws tougher. One example of this happened in California. It lowered the legal BAC limit to the percentage it is now. Prior to the 1990, it was 0.10 percent.

California and other states are not ready to give into the NTSB’s demands. South Carolina officials publically disagreed with the agency regarding its attempt to convince states to lower the legal limit 0.05 percent.

California has its Own Rules about Less Than 0.08 Percent BAC Level

In the state, police are already allowed to make a DUI arrest even with a BAC level under 0.08 percent. However, this only applies in specific situations. For instance, a police officer believes an individual is too impaired to drive, but his or her BAC is under 0.08 percent. The police officer can make the decision to arrest the driver for impaired driving. There are other instances that apply such as:

  • A driver operating a commercial vehicle. In California, the driver can be arrested if his or her BAC is over 0.04 percent.
  • The driver being under 21 years old and having a BAC higher than 0.01 percent.

California DUI Arrests that are Over-the-Limit

Tough DUI laws are being enacted all around the county. In many states, BAC enhancement levels range between 0.12 to 0.15 percent. Sometimes even higher. With DUI legal limits so low, proponents of the change believe there is no reason to lower the BAC anymore.

Anyone arrested with a BAC much higher than the legal limit can face enhanced penalties. These enhanced penalties often include more time in jail, longer alcohol programs and higher penalties.

Proponents of the change claim that it is not about the legal limit. Instead, it is supposed to send society a message—drinking and driving is not tolerated in the U.S.

The battle to lower the legal limit for driving under the influence continues. This means a few things for Californians. First, California drivers can be arrested for DUI even when they do not have a BAC over the legal limit. In addition, they also can be charged and convicted of DUI.

If you have been arrested for DUI with a BAC under 0.08 percent, schedule a free initial consultation with the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin. Jonathan Franklin is experienced in DUI laws in California. He and his team will fight to get your DUI charge dropped or reduced.