New BAC limit could mean trouble for California drivers

No one wants to see those flashing red and blue lights in the rear-view mirror, especially after a night out. This situation could soon become even more stressful if California lawmakers pass a new bill that would lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels.

A new bill proposes lower BAC

The new bill on the table aims to lower California's current BAC level of 0.08% down to 0.05%. Most states have a level of 0.08%, except for Utah. Utah was the first state to decrease the legal limit at the beginning of this year. 

The bill is not law yet. It still has quite a way to go. However, if the law passes, the number of California drivers who could face drunk driving charges could increase significantly.

Understanding BAC

It is essential to take a look at BAC to understand how the rate of DUI charges could increase.

A person's BAC depends on many factors, including:

  • Their weight and often their gender
  • The ratio of food to alcohol in their system
  • The amount of alcohol in their system
  • The number of drinks they consumed

Taking these factors into consideration, most people reach a BAC of 0.05% if they have two drinks in one hour.

Lowering BAC raises the chances of a DUI

According to Stanford University, a BAC of 0.05% usually has symptoms including:

  • Feeling relaxed and warm
  • Slight cognitive impairments

Essentially, this BAC level is what most people considered "buzzed."

A lower BAC would increase the risks that all California drivers face. Since someone's BAC depends on so many variables, a specific limit cannot accurately define how alcohol impacts different individuals.

By Stanford's study, it is likely that many people have driven with a BAC of 0.05% in the past since it was below the legal limit, especially if an average of two drinks results in a 0.05% BAC. If the new bill becomes law, then these people could face consequences of a DUI charge that they currently do not. And a BAC of 0.08% could have even more penalties than it does now.

It might become even more critical for people to prepare for a night out and have a designated driver so that they can avoid the risk of a DUI, regardless of how they feel after a few drinks.

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