Christoph Law Offices, DUI & Criminal Defense
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Christoph Law Offices, DUI & Criminal Defense
Christoph Law Offices, DUI & Criminal Defense


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  • Former Deputy San Diego City Attorney
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Attorneys William R. Christoph & Nicholas W. Christoph

California drivers may face DWI charges even the day after drinking

Many drivers in California don’t realize that they can be charged with DUI if they are measurably impaired or intoxicated the morning after drinking.

In 2013, over 161,000 people in California were arrested for allegedly driving under the influence, according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Many people may assume that most of these drivers were arrested for driving shortly after consuming alcohol, but this isn’t always the case. Surprisingly, many drivers in Vista may instead face charges of driving under the influence the day after drinking.

Why next-day DUIs occur

WXYZ News explains that, contrary to popular belief, a night of sleep does not always give the body enough time to process and eliminate alcohol. The morning after drinking, many people may fail to recognize that they are still impaired. As a result, next-day DUI charges aren’t uncommon.

The same source tells the story of one woman, who had six drinks over a three-hour period before getting a ride home. After sleeping for six hours, the woman drove herself to work. She was pulled over and asked to take a breath test, and to her surprise, the test registered her blood alcohol concentration level at .10 percent. According to experts, the woman’s BAC level had likely reached .22 percent when she stopped drinking. Since her body only eliminated alcohol at a rate of about .02 percent per hour, six hours of rest was not adequate.

WMBF News notes that even people whose BAC levels have fallen below the legal limit may be at risk for DUI charges the day after drinking. If a person shows poor driving performance or fails field sobriety tests due to mild impairment, he or she can still be arrested for DUI.

Common risk factors

Some drivers may be more likely than others to face next-day DWI charges. First, people who process alcohol more slowly may be more vulnerable to these charges. According to an article published in the journal Clinical Liver Disease, the following factors can affect alcohol elimination rates:

• Age. Older adults may need more time to process alcohol, possibly due to loss of bodily water content and changes in liver tissue mass.

• Gender. Consuming the same amount of alcohol produces greater BAC levels in women than in men, which can result in longer overall elimination periods.

• Race. Some studies suggest that genetic factors influence how quickly the body can eliminate alcohol.

• Medication use. Certain drugs may inhibit or disrupt the alcohol metabolization process.

Additionally, in California, some people face a higher risk of next-day DUI charges or DMV alcohol suspensions because state laws establish lower legal limits for them. Commercial vehicle drivers can be charged with DUI if their BAC levels are .04 percent or more. Drivers who are on DUI probation for prior DUI convictions can loose their license with .01 percent or more. This is also true of drivers who under the age of 21. It may be easy for all of these drivers to unwittingly drive with residual alcohol still in their system from the night before.

Addressing DUI charges

Next-day DUIs are DUIs. For further information, anyone who has been arrested for a DUI in California should consider consulting with an attorney as soon as possible to address license suspension issues, the DMV and Court process, possible defenses as well as getting a realistic appraisal of their case and how it may be resolved.

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