St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. Sadly, so are more dangerous automobile accidents caused by drunk drivers. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, a 22-year old University of Southern California student was killed when a driver failed to stop at a red light. Police suspected the driver was under the influence of alcohol. In another accident on a Ventura freeway, four people suffered major injuries in a fiery crash. A drunk driver was driving at high speeds while trying to cross five lanes, lost control of his vehicle and hit their automobile.

How Much Is Too Much Alcohol to Drive in California?

People want to have a good time on St. Patrick’s Day, and lots of green beer is often part of the fun. But it doesn’t take much to violate California law. It’s illegal under California Law to drive under the following circumstances:

  • If you’re over 21 and your blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08 or higher.
  • If you’re under 21 and your BAC is .01 or higher. Drivers under 21 may not consume any alcohol, including in medications or cough medicine, before getting behind the wheel.
  • If you’re under 18 and your BAC is at all measurable.
  • If you’re a driver of a vehicle requiring a commercial license and your BAC is .04 or higher.

It takes fewer drinks than you may think to increase a person’s BAC above the legal limits or to increase the risk he’ll be the cause of an accident. Most people have five times the risk of causing an automobile accident if they’ve had two drinks or more in the hour before they get behind the wheel. If a person weighs less than 129 pounds, as little as one drink in the last hour may be enough to reach this level of risk. More drinks, even over a longer time period, further increase this risk.

If you or your family were hit by a driver you suspect was drunk, it’s important that you tell your attorney. Not only is this illegal under California criminal laws, but it could also increase the damages you are entitled to in a lawsuit.

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Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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