California’s DUI laws can be complex and confusing. In this section, our attorneys break down the rules and explain the process.
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Eating before, or during the course of drinking, slows the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into a person’s body. This decrease in absorption means less alcohol enters the bloodstream, as compared to the situation when no food is eaten. Less alcohol entering the bloodstream results in a lower blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”).
Other factors that may affect a party’s BAC include:
BAC is the measure of the amount of alcohol in someone’s bloodstream. Blood alcohol concentration is expressed as a percentage – for instance .08%. The higher the number, the more alcohol there is in a person’s bloodstream.
California’s “legal limit” for BAC depends on the driver’s age and the type of vehicle driven. A common legal limit that leads to a “DUI per se “charge in California is .08% for adult drivers (of non-commercial vehicles).
This is true and it all has to do with absorption. When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol immediately begins to get absorbed into the party’s bloodstream. Approximately 20% is absorbed through the stomach and 80% is absorbed through the small intestine.
Eating food, either before or while drinking, essentially slows absorption rates. Slower rates mean that less alcohol enters a person’s bloodstream (when compared to a drinker that does not eat). This reduction of alcohol in the blood translates into reduced levels of blood alcohol concentration.
In fact, some studies have shown that a non-eating drinker’s BAC can be as much as three times higher than a similar drinker who has eaten prior to consuming alcohol. Eating food prior to drinking, especially food high in protein, has been shown to stop people from getting too drunk too fast.
Several factors can affect a party’s BAC levels when drinking. Some of the more popular include:
BAC is the measure of the amount of alcohol in someone’s bloodstream. BAC is commonly used to try to establish whether someone is driving under the influence. Blood alcohol concentration is expressed as a percentage – for instance .08%. The higher the number, the more alcohol there is in a person’s bloodstream.
Blood alcohol content does not, by itself, determine whether someone’s driving will be impaired by alcohol. Some people may be impaired at a relatively low percentage, while others may be able to drive safely with a relatively high BAC.
But regardless of actual impairment, drivers may not lawfully drive in California once their BAC exceeds a certain level. This amount is sometimes referred to as California’s “legal limit” for alcohol–also known as the “per se” DUI limit.
California’s “legal limit” for BAC depends on the driver’s age and the type of vehicle driven. Common legal limits that lead to “DUI per se “charges in California include:
Someone can be found guilty of driving under the influence even if his or her blood alcohol concentration is under the “legal limit.” A person is considered to be under the influence (regardless of BAC) anytime that:
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.