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Unintended consequences of proposed change to California DUI law

Last month, California lawmakers were presented a bill that calls for a significant reduction in the amount of alcohol you can have in your system while driving. AB 1713 would lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) from .08 percent to .05 percent.

While proponents of the bill claim it would improve traffic safety, they are reluctant to discuss other consequences. If the BAC was lowered, it would mean a surge in DUI arrests. Many of those arrested would not be impaired in any way and would pose no threat, but because of the lowered BAC standard would regardless face California’s tough drunk driving penalties.

A recent newspaper column looked at the possible negative impact the proposal would have if enacted. One writer complained that “the possible change to 0.05 is madness” and that it won’t reduce road fatalities. Instead, the writer stated, “all it’s going to do is prevent people from having a glass of wine with dinner at a restaurant.”

The criticism is spot on. The columnist noted that “the American Beverage Institute says that a 120-pound woman can hit the .05 level after consuming little more than a single drink.”

The proposal would wind up making criminals out of ordinary citizens who pose no danger. And those unfortunate enough to be arrested after having a glass of wine would face stringent penalties that include jail time, heavy fines, mandated alcohol education and a lengthy driver’s license suspension – all for a first offense.

Those facing those penalties should speak with a Roseville attorney experienced in effective drunk driving defense before talking to a prosecutor or investigator.