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Harsher DUI Laws in California

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Vaughan de Kirby
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It’s a relatively unknown fact that many states have two different levels of DUI—“standard” and “excessive”—determined the driver’s blood alcohol level. Those convicted of excessive DUI are typically penalized more harshly.

The .08 percent that most people are familiar with is for a standard DUI. In California, an excessive DUI currently requires a BAC of .2 percent, more than double the standard level.

Recently, California State Senator Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) introduced a bill that would lower the threshold for excessive DUIs from .2 to .15 percent.

This change was recommended by the National Highway Safety Administration, and would make California’s DUI laws essentially identical to many other states in this regard. Lowering the threshold is also supported by research indicating that 58 percent of DUI deaths involve drivers with a BAC of .15 or higher. 

California’s current law prompts judges to consider imposing harsher sanctions on those with an excessive BAC, including ignition interlock devices. IIDs are often reserved for those with multiple DUIs, but first time offenders can be required to install them in their vehicles if there BAC was above the level for excessive drunk driving.

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