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Drunk Driving Laws and Statistics

In the U.S., according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 28 people die in alcohol-impaired car crashes every day. In 2015, over 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents, accounting for nearly one-third of all U.S. traffic deaths. With one U.S. death every 51 minutes, the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.

Drunk Driving Laws and Statistics

It doesn’t matter what time of day, or what color your collar, if you drink and drive you will get caught, and you will go to jail.

At Wilshire Law Firm, our team of experienced DUI accident attorneys represents victims of irresponsible drunk drivers, every day.

Though these cases are particularly tragic, our firm takes great pride in working with these families and guiding them down the road to recovery, by winning fair and just case resolutions.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a DUI-related car accident, it is extremely important that you obtain an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Wilshire Law Firm’s California car accident lawyers are the best in the business at recovering fair and just compensation for drunk driving accident victims.

Call 1-800-522-7274 for a FREE, no-obligation case evaluation today. Our team of legal experts is available 24/7, 365 to take your call.

Don’t delay, call Wilshire Law Firm today!

What are the penalties for DUI in California?

The penalties for driving under the influence in the state of California vary on circumstances. However, the sentencing guidelines in DUI convictions are as follows:

Jail time

  • 1st offense: 4 days to 6 months
  • 2nd offense: 10 days to 1 year
  • 3rd offense: 120 days to 1 year
  • 4th offense: 16 months
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Fines and penalties

  • 1st offense: Up to $1,000
  • 2nd offense: Up to $1,800
  • 3rd offense: Up to $1,800
  • 4th offense: Up to $18,000

License suspension

  • 1st offense: 30 days to 10 months
  • 2nd offense: 2 years (can be reduced to 1)
  • 3rd offense: 3 years
  • 4th offense: 4 years

Interlock Ignition Device (IID) Required

  • 1st offense: Yes, in some counties
  • 2nd offense: Yes
  • 3rd offense: Yes
  • 4th offense: Yes

In the state of California, it’s illegal to drive under the following circumstances:

Drivers under 21

  • May not carry unsealed alcohol in vehicle while driving alone
  • May not drive with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .01 or higher
  • May not consume alcohol in any form, including cough syrup or prescription drugs
  • Under 18 may not drive with any alcohol in system

Drivers over 21

  • May not drive with BAC of .08 or higher
  • Commercial vehicle drivers may not drive with BAC of .04 or higher
  • Repeat DUIs may not drive with a BAC of .01 or higher

What are SIP Laws?

One of the easiest ways drunk drivers hit the road is by getting over-served at a bar or restaurant. Serving Intoxicated Persons (SIP) laws are in place in California to prevent servers from putting people at risk.

The law states:

“Every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to any habitual or common drunkard or to any obviously intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor.”


The state defines an intoxicated person as someone who is, “A condition in which a person has drunk enough alcoholic beverages to observably affect his or her:

  • Manner
  • Disposition
  • Speech
  • Muscular movement
  • General appearance
  • General behavior
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Some more indications of whether someone is drunk are:

  • Struggling to balance (stumbling, staggering, bumping into things, falling off the barstool, hitting head on the bar)
  • Ineffective muscular coordination (spilling, knocking over drinks, unable to pick things up off the floor)
  • Smells of alcohol
  • Slurred words and speech (thick tongue, voice pitches, muttering or uncontrollable yelling)
  • Blood-rushed face, eyes, or glassy, glazed eyes
  • Disheveled appearance, cuts on face, messy hair, unbuttoned or unzipped clothing
  • Unusual behavior: vomiting, profanity, hiccups, fighting, obnoxious, loud, boisterous, rambunctious, irreverent

Buzzed driving is drunk driving

Even though the legal limit for driving under the influence in California is .08 BAC, which is more than one drink for the average person, that doesn’t mean your driving won’t be impaired if your BAC is between .01 and .08.

Many organizations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), claim that all buzzed driving should be considered illegal, as part of their admirable crusade to end drunk driving, finally.

MADD Stats

Since MADD was founded in 1980, the amount of drunk driving deaths has been cut in half.

Here are some more great stats from MADD’s website:

  • Up to 75% of convicted drunk drivers continue driving on a suspended license
  • A person is injured in a drunk driving accident every 2 minutes in the U.S.
  • Most drunk drivers are 26 to 29 years old
  • On average, 2 of every 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetime
  • Drunk driving costs each adult in the U.S. $500 per year

Lyft and Uber

With easy, fast, cheap driving alternatives available all over the country, there is no excuse to drink and drive anymore.

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Tow trucks, taxi services and other modes of transportation are always available. Do you really want to risk your freedom by potentially taking the life of another, just for one drive?

Don’t be stupid.

Drunk driving is 100% preventable.

Did you know?

If you’ve been warned not to drive, and you still decide to drink and drive, and then kill someone, that could constitute 2nd degree murder.

The average drunk driver drives drunk over 80 times before their first stop.

What happens to your brain when your BAC is above .08?

  • Trouble or disregard for controlling the speed of your car
  • Difficulty processing information and reasoning
  • Reduced coordination and ability to track moving objects
  • 11 times more likely to cause a crash than driving while sober
  • Difficulty steering

If you are a victim of a drunk driving accident

Please call the award-winning car accident lawyers of Wilshire Law Firm at 1-800-522-7274. Our team of legal experts is available 24/7, 365 to take your call and give you a FREE, no-obligation case evaluation.

The best part? It’s free to start! Learn more about how it works

Drunk driving is a serious epidemic in California. In the United States, someone dies every 50 minutes because of negligent drunk driving.

Insurance companies will do everything they can to withhold money from you and your family that is rightfully yours.

You need an experienced DUI accident attorney on your side that will stop at nothing until your family receives JUSTICE.

Call Wilshire Law Firm today. It may be the best call you ever make.

Don’t delay, call Wilshire Law Firm today!

For further reading, please visit:

Mothers Against Drunk Driving
CDC – Impaired Driving
DOT – Bureau of Transportation Statistics

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