New DUI Law in California went into effect July 1, 2018

A new DUI law is scheduled to go into effect this summer in CA.

California lawmakers recently passed a law that would change driving under the influence (DUI) laws in the state by including a lower maximum blood alcohol level of .04 for drivers transporting passengers for hire. It is set to go into effect this summer.

This specific change applies to drivers who operate their vehicles to transport a passenger for hire. The government made the change to hold drivers who operate in this marketplace to a higher standard of safety than those who operate vehicles for personal use.

Point of clarification: What is the current law?

The DMV notes that state law currently prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle when a driver age 21 or over has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more.

This changed on July 1, 2018 for drivers who transport passengers for hire.

More on the law: What is a "passenger for hire" business?

The law, AB 2687, makes it illegal for anyone with a BAC of 0.04 to transport a passenger for hire after July 1, 2018. The law defines a "passenger for hire" as a paying passenger who expects "as a condition of carriage in the vehicle, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vehicle." This includes popular rideshare businesses like Uber and Lyft.

This law effectively reduces the BAC requirements of these drivers to the same requirements imposed upon drivers with a commercial driver's license.

Accused of a violation: What are the penalties?

DUI Penalties apply to the new law and can include probation, fines, license suspension, programs, and custody.

DUI Defense considerations remain the same for this new subsection, only now the .04 BA level becomes a primary concern. The law states that if the blood alcohol level by a chemical test is .04 or more within 3 hours of the time of driving, then it is a rebuttable presumption that it was at that level while driving. In reality, the blood alcohol level is rising shortly after a drink during absorption by the body and then and falling through metabolism or burn off after it peaks. It is not static. That is why a forensic alcohol expert can testify, based on drinking pattern and other variables, that the BAC at time of driving was different and may have been lower than .04.

What is the right defensive strategy to accusations of drunk driving?

The right defensive strategy can vary from case to case. It always includes reviewing all the evidence for possible defenses, including the initial contact, detention, field sobriety test, blood or breath testing protocol, equipment maintenance and calibration, as well as drinking pattern. A defense strategy also involves being able to present mitigating factors concerning the case and defendant that could result in lesser charges or minimizing the penalties even if there is not a viable defense. An experienced DUI Defense attorney can greatly assist you in achieving the best resolution in your case.