Because Los Angeles is such a driving town, it is unfortunately extremely susceptible to a high amount of DUI (driving under the influence) offenses and related accidents, injuries and at times deaths. There is even a large and growing number of local attorneys that actually specialize solely in the area of DUIs. The best way to prevent such tragedies is to designate a driver, take a taxi or not drink at all. What follows is a rundown of DUI drinking and driving laws and procedures in Los Angeles.
The Facts About Drunk Driving in Los Angeles
Drunk driving accidents happen all the time in LA but often don’t get as much attention as they should. One case that hit the local community hard was that of California Angels baseball pitcher Nick Adenhart, who was killed by a drunk driver in Fullerton at the young age of 22, in 2009. During that same year, routine stops around LA produced 2,623 DUI arrests in a random (non-holiday) two week period, according to the California Office of Traffic and Safety.
What is the legal limit?
0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC) or more
0.04% BAC or more for commercial driver license holders
0.01% BAC or more for drivers under 21, and drivers on probation for a DUI
Drunk Driving Tests
Some of the tests used to determine whether a DUI should be issued are blood, breathalyzer, or urine tests and a visual (‘walking the line’) test. In California, a driver is only entitled to a blood or breath test. However, a urine test is an option if the two other chemical tests are unavailable for some reason.
DUI Driving Under the Influence First Offenses in Los Angeles
- Jail time: 96 hours to six months
- Fine: $390 to $1000
- Payment of penalty assessment equaling three times the amount of the fine
- Drivers license suspension, typically for six months
- Required completion of a DUI program (for as long as nine months)
- Possible order to install an ‘Ignition Interlock Device’ (IID)
- California SR22 (proof of financial responsibility) Insurance requirement for restricted license
Drivers License Revocation For a DUI
When a driver is arrested for a DUI, the arresting officer will take the drivers license, which will be returned at the end of the suspension or revocation for a $125 reissue fee (at the DMV) and proof of financial responsibility. For drivers under 21 under the Zero Tolerance Law), the fee is $100.
After the Drunk Driving Arrest
The violator may request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days of receiving the suspension or revocation order. If no basis for it is found, the action will be set aside.
The officer that made the DUI arrest forwards a copy of the notice of suspension or revocation form and the drivers license is taken into possession by the DMV (which conducts an administrative review) with a sworn report.
DUI Programs in LA: Alcoholics Anonymous
It is generally required that the violating driver attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings as a condition to meet probation in a DUI case. The number of meetings is not preset, but determined by the court on a case-by-case basis. Meetings are recorded on a court card and signed by the attending secretary. If the driver doesn’t fulfill this duty he/she is in violation of their probation and could receive jail time.
Auto Insurance Issues Beyond the DUI
Under California law, auto insurance companies are forbidden from taking action against a policy midterm. So if a driver is arrested midterm, the insurance company does not have the right to immediately raise the premium or cancel the policy. If the driver is applying for new coverage at the time of the DUI charges, the company can decide not to issue the driver a new policy.
How long will the DUI remain on record?
Typically, a DUI offense will remain on record for 10 years from the violation date (and count as two points).
DUIs for People Under the Age of 21
A 2002 article in the Los Angles Times stated statistics upholding the fact that “most teens admit to risky road behavior,” including driving under the influence of alcohol (or drugs). Young adults are a growing risk segment in the battle against drunk driving. Luckily, organizations like Safe Rides are helping teen who end up drinking find an alternative to getting behind the wheel.
DUI rules for drivers under 21 are as follows:
Drivers under 21 who took a blood, urine or breath test and were over the legal limit (in the case of a first offense) will get their license suspended for four months. A second offense within ten years will result in a longer, one-year suspension.
Drivers under 21 who took a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test and were over the legal limit will have their driving privileges suspended for one year.