Houman Fakhimi

Chino DUI Arrests May Increase if Feds Reduce Legal Limits

A man in Glendale recently made headlines for his DUI arrest. He reportedly panicked after being pulled over with his young, unrestrained daughters, and stashed his beer in a diaper bag.

Our Chino DUI lawyers understand the man originally told officers he was rushing the kids to the hospital, but officers pressed him further after smelling alcohol on his breath. The beer in the diaper bag was found after a consent to search, at least according to the officers.

In addition to DUI, he was also charged with child endangerment, with his bail set at $100,000.

This man likely would have faced some charges, regardless of whether he was found to have been drinking, but DUI arrests in California and across the country could be expected to soar - if the National Transportation Safety Board is successful in its bid to lower the legal limit for blood alcohol levels behind the wheel.

In a recently-released, board-approved recommendation, the agency proposed having states lower the minimum threshold for DUI charges from a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.

The current 0.08 percent standard was initiated by Congress 10 years ago.

The benefit of that reduction, the NTSB says, has tapered off, with motor vehicle fatalities attributed to drunk driving hovering around 10,000 annually.

The board indicates that other countries that have stricter standards have significantly lower DUI fatality rates.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that the number of DUI arrests throughout the state has increased by about 6.6 percent over the last decade, although the rate of DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers has actually dropped by about 7.5 percent. This discrepancy can likely be explained by increases in population, coupled with the fact that fewer drivers get behind the wheel after drinking.

Felony DUI arrests, like those initiated for DUI manslaughter or DUI child endangerment, have gone up from about 5,500 in 1997 to 6,200 in 2007.

Last year, the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Prevention reported a 15.1 percent year-over-year decrease in alcohol-involved traffic fatalities.

It's worth noting that about 25 percent of those arrested for DUI are not convicted, which would suggest a signficant error margin on behalf of law enforcement and/or prosecutors.

A first offense DUI defendant can expect to receive three to five years of probation, a fine pof up to $1,800, a six month license suspension, a requirement of DUI school and at least 48 hours in jail, though you may be given as long as six months. The penalties are of course increased if your arrest involved significnat damage of property or injury to another person.

Mandated installation of ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders is only required in four California counties, and even that is part of a pilot program that started in 2010. However, a judge may opt to impose this penalty on a first-time offender, just depending on the circumstances.

Our Chino DUI attorneys can challenge a DUI arrest and potentially help you avoid conviction by addressing breath test errors or technical mistakes in evidence collection or due process laws.

Reducing the minimum alcohol limit would create further challenges.

Blood alcohol concentration is a measurement that varies depending on one's body type, weight, stomach contents, gender and other factors. The current limit is somewhat arbitrary as it is, meaning someone could be "legally drunk" but not actually impaired to the point of being unsafe behind the wheel.

Lowering this standard even more is going to mean countless more individuals will be burdened with criminal records that could follow them long into the future.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are arrested in Chino.

Additional Resources

Man accused of DUI hid beer in baby's diaper bag, police say, May 15, 2013, By Veronica Rocha, Los Angeles Times.