Explaining California’s Zero Tolerance Law for DUI Offenders

California DUI laws are quite stringent, and even first-time offenders stand to face significant punishment and penalties. Under California laws, it is illegal to drive a vehicle when you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. It is also against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration or BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. In general, you may be able to operate a vehicle with a lower amount of alcohol in your system. In other words, you may still be “legal” to drive if your BAC is under 0.08 percent or unless you are determined by a police officer to have been impaired by alcohol in your system.

What is the Zero Tolerance Law

However, under California’s Zero Tolerance Law, you may be guilty of driving under the influence, even if you have a significantly lower level of alcohol in your system and even if you were not impaired while driving. The Zero Tolerance policy impacts two groups of individuals – drivers who are under the age of 21 and those who are already on probation for a prior DUI conviction. If these apply to you, it is important to understand the types of charges you face and how an experienced Orange County DUI defense lawyer can help you.

California's zero tolerance policy - how it affects DUI offenders

If You Are on Probation

Following a DUI conviction, you will face three years to five years of probation. This will likely be informal probation, which means you don’t have to be monitored and don’t have to report to a probation officer. However, one of the requirements you have to meet is to not drive with any alcohol in your system. So, if you are on probation for a prior DUI conviction, you cannot drive with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. If you are pulled over and asked to take a roadside Breathalyzer test, you must comply. This is optional for other drivers. If you break either one of these rules or decline to take a chemical test following your arrest, you may face additional consequences for your probation violation in addition to the new DUI charge.

Underage Drivers

Under California law, individuals under the age of 21 cannot consume alcohol. They are also not allowed to drive with alcohol in their system. Underage drivers caught with even trace amounts of alcohol in their system could face underage DUI charges under the zero tolerance law. The law presumes that underage drinkers, being younger, may be more affected even by smaller amounts of alcohol compared to adults. More importantly, drivers under the age of 21 cannot drink legally. So, even trace amounts of alcohol in their system amounts to a legal violation. In addition, younger drivers are already at a greater risk for car accidents, and are therefore more dangerous when impaired compared to older drivers.

If you are facing DUI charges as the result of California’s Zero Tolerance Law, you need an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney on your side who will defend the charges and help protect your rights. A single DUI has the potential for life-changing consequences and tough penalties. A knowledgeable DUI defense attorney will be able to reduce the penalties and get your charges reduced as well. Call us to discuss your case at no cost.