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How Many Drinks Before it is Illegal to Drive in California

Posted by Jason Beahm | Oct 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

I'm often asked, “how many beers can you drink and drive?” One of the reasons that so many people are arrested for DUI in California is because it is often hard to know whether or not you are over the legal limit. The chart below offers a rough guide, but it is very difficult to know whether you are over the legal limit when you have had between three and five drinks.

More and more of my California DUI clients are buying personal breathalyzers, and although such devices are no guarantee, I believe it is a good idea. I have seen good quality breathalyzers devices for around $100. As a California DUI attorney that has seen thousands of cases, I can safely say that if you aren't sure whether you are over the legal limit, you are always safer not to chance it. Instead, take a cab and avoid the risk.

If you do find yourself arrested for DUI, there is a lot that an experienced California DUI attorney can do to fight the case on your behalf. Your lawyer can manage the case for you, keep you out of court, plan your strategy and either negotiate the best resolution possible, or take the case to trial. Take a closer look at the chart for an estimation of how many beers can you drink and drive.

The District Attorneys and judges in California take DUI cases very seriously. For an idea of the possible penalties in California:

In addition to the criminal side of the case, the DMV will also institute proceedings against you to suspend your license. You only have 10 calendar days from the time of your arrest to request a hearing with the DMV. This is the first thing our office does when retained by a DUI client. Once the hearing is requested, you get to keep your license pending the results of the hearing, which can be scheduled several months out, if necessary. In most cases, even if the license is suspended, we can get a provisional license in as few as 30 days.

A California DUI arrest is a serious matter, but it is not a situation that is unrecoverable or has to destroy your life. Many cases can be beat, and the difference between the minimum punishment and the maximum is substantial. Throwing yourself at the mercy of the court is typically a big mistake–they frequently stick you with with a bad deal. So much for mercy!

The fact is, our legal system is adversarial, which means you need someone advocating on your behalf. The prosecution certainly has attorneys working to convict you and make sure you receive the maximum punishment.

That is why it is important to have a defense attorney that has your back.

About the Author

Jason Beahm

Founding Attorney Profile Credentials Associations Bio Jason Beahm is the Founder and President of Beahm Law. Voted “Best of SF” four out of the past five years by SF Weekly Magazine, Attorney Beahm practices in the areas of DUI, criminal defense, and personal injury. He is passionate ...


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