WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE LAW HAS ZERO TOLERANCE FOR ALCOHOL?

Jul 25, 2014 @ 11:20 AM — by Myles L. Berman

Many people are surprised to learn that .08 is not the only legal limit for drivers in the state of California. Under several zero tolerance statutes, California makes it illegal for a person to drive with a .01 blood alcohol level. These statutes apply to individuals under the legal drinking age of 21 and people who are on court probation for a previous DUI. Although the rules at first reading may appear to be straight forward, I have provided several examples to illustrate how complex these rules can be.

Example 1

On Friday evening at 7:00p.m., Arnold is driving to the beach to hang out with his friends. This is his last night of being 20. So he brought a 40 ounce bottle of beer to celebrate. He joins five other friends at the beach and they share the beer. At 7:45p.m., Arnold and his friends decide to relocate the festivities to Arnold’s basement. Everyone piles into Arnold’s Honda Civic. A half hour later, Arnold is pulled over for a seatbelt violation and asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. At 9:00p.m., he blows a .03.  The police take Arnold’s license and release him to the custody of his parents. Will Arnold be subject to zero tolerance?

Answer 1

Yes, Arnold is subject to the zero tolerance laws because he was under the age of 21 at the time of the DUI arrest.

Example 2

Arnold’s friend Riley was late to the party because he had to work a double shift at a local hamburger stand. Riley really wanted to celebrate with his friends because he too would be turning 21 after midnight and wanted to celebrate with his friends. Riley got text messages from Arnold that the party would be at Arnold’s house.  At 11:00p.m., Riley gets off of work and buys his own 40 ounce bottle of beer to sneak into Arnold’s parent’s house.  Riley arrives at midnight and sees that the lights aren’t on so he calls Arnold and learns of Arnold’s DUI arrest. While still parked on Arnold’s street Riley decides to drink ½ of the 40 ounce at midnight. He then proceeds to drive home and is pulled over at 1:00a.m. for driving with no headlights. He submits to a breathalyzer test and the results are .05. The officer impounds his vehicle and takes Riley to jail to submit to a blood test? Will Riley be subject to zero tolerance?

Answer 2

Riley is not subject to zero tolerance because he was 21 years old at the time of his DUI arrest.

Example 3

Jason gets a call from Riley at 4:00a.m. and Riley needs a ride to the impound yard to pick up his car. Jason drives to the police station and asks an officer where he can find Riley. The officer notices that Jason’s breath smells like alcohol and requests that Jason submit to a battery of field sobriety tests. Jason submits to the tests and also provides a breath sample of .06.  Jason is on probation for alcohol related reckless driving (wet reckless). Will Jason be subject to zero tolerance?

Answer 3

Jason was on probation for wet reckless, not DUI so he is not subject to zero tolerance.

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