How Can I Be Over the Legal Limit After Only One Drink?

California has strict drunk driving laws. If you drive under the influence of alcohol, you could face a hefty fine and a lengthy jail sentence. For felony DUIs, you could serve time in prison.

If you cause a car accident while intoxicated, you could be charged with a serious crime. However, you could also face civil penalties for driving under the influence. The victims of the DUI accident can sue you for damages.

Driving After Consuming Alcohol Is Always Dangerous

It is never wise to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. The legal limit in California is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 for adults 21 years and older.

However, the legal limit for drivers under 21 years of age is .01 or higher. If the driver is operating a vehicle that requires a CDL (commercial driver’s license), the legal limit is .04. 

How many drinks it takes to reach the legal limit depends on numerous factors. It is never wise to assume that you can have just one or two drinks and still have a BAC under the legal limit.

Some Drinks Are Packed With More Alcohol

Most people realize that drinking pure alcohol is much different than enjoying a beer. However, do they really know how much of certain drinks they can consume before passing the legal limit?

A standard alcoholic beverage has about 14 grams of pure alcohol per serving, including:

  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits

Someone who orders a mixed drink with more than one type of liquor could consume two or three standard drinks in one drink. Therefore, understanding what is in your drink is just as important as counting the number of drinks you have. 

The CDC reports that drinking just four beers puts you at the legal limit. A few shots of liquor or a couple of mixed drinks could put you over the legal limit.

Other Factors That Impact Blood Alcohol Content 

Other factors can impact how quickly someone may reach the legal limit when consuming alcohol, including:

  • Metabolism
  • Age
  • Hydration
  • Alcohol tolerance
  • Gender
  • Body type
  • Overall health
  • Medications taken
  • Muscle/fat content
  • Food consumed

Because everyone is different, you cannot judge whether you will reach a BAC of .08 or higher based on another person. The amount of alcohol it takes to reach a BAC of .08 could even change from the last time you went out drinking, depending on factors like what you ate and your hydration level.

Civil Lawsuits for DUI Accidents

If someone causes a car accident while driving under the influence, that person is legally liable for damages caused by the crash. However, you must prove that the drunk driver caused the accident to recover compensation for damages.

The types of damages that you could recover include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Cost of medical treatment and expenses
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Decreases in earning potential
  • Cost of personal care
  • Mental trauma and anguish
  • Emotional distress and psychological injuries
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disabilities and permanent impairments
  • Decrease in quality of life
  • Wrongful death damages

Drunk driving accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities. The value of a claim could reach millions of dollars if the person is permanently disabled because of their accident injuries. 

If the driver carries minimum car insurance coverage, the victim may sue the driver to obtain a personal judgment. Depending on the facts of the case, that person may have to pay the judgment from personal assets or funds.

What Should You Do if a Drunk Driver Hits Your Car?

Call the police immediately to report the crash. The drunk driver may drive away. Try to get the license plate number, make, model, and color of the car, if possible. 

If the driver stays at the accident scene, do not confront the driver or accuse the driver of being intoxicated. Tell the emergency operator about your suspicions and let the police officer know when he arrives. Confronting a drunk person is never a wise idea.

If there are witnesses, make sure you get their names and contact information. Taking pictures and making a video of the accident scene can also be a good idea.

Seek medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. Report all symptoms to your doctor and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Finally, seek legal advice from a DUI accident lawyer to decide how to proceed with your personal injury claim. 

Call our law firm today at (619) 777-5555 for a free consultation or contact us online.