In California, California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC makes it a crime for any “person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his blood or her blood to drive a vehicle.” This means that if you are operating a motorized vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) limit over 0.08 percent, you are automatically guilty of driving under the influence (“DUI”) even if it cannot be proven that you are under the influence of alcohol. And, what does it mean to “operate a vehicle?” It simply means that you moved the vehicle some distance from where it was parked.
Although California treats first, second and third DUI offenses as misdemeanors, these charges are not to be taken lightly. DUI penalties include, but are not limited to: suspension of a person’s drivers license, probation, fines, DUI school, and in some instances, an ignition interlock device, house arrest or jail time. In addition, a DUI conviction generally stays on your records permanently – this will affect you for the rest of your life as most employers are entitled to this information when conducting a background check. Also, this could also affect you if you currently have a job where criminal convictions are not taken lightly (i.e., freight driver).
A victim that has been injured by a drunk driver may recover the following damages, which includes, but is not limited to: pain and suffering, lost wages, punitive damages, auto repair bills, medical bills, and lost (future) earning capacity. In addition, families who have lost a loved one because of a drunk driver may also be able to recover the following, which includes, but is not limited to: wrongful death, loss of consortium or a California survival action.
Whether you, or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, have lost someone because of a drunk driver, or are an injured party, it is recommended that you seek an experienced personal injury attorney so that you may better understand you (or your family member’s) rights.
Authored by Scott D. McDonald, Esq.