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  • Writer's pictureBlair Goss

Can You Get a DUI for Being Hungover in California? | What the Law Says

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents in California. Even with the possibility of facing a serious drunk driving charge, drivers still get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is above legal limits.

In many such cases, the at-fault driver may claim to have thought that they were sober enough to drive safely. A common excuse is that they drank the night before so they assumed the alcohol had left their system.

However, the results of a blood test done on these drivers often tell another story. Many California drivers underestimate the time it takes for their bodies to process alcohol. Having a hangover does not mean all the alcohol has left the person's system.

Drivers who are arrested for a DUI in California need a strong defense to avoid severe punishment. Goss Law is ready to assist by fighting for their rights in court. Anyone in need of an experienced DUI law firm can call +1 916-999-7689 and ask for a free consultation.

When a Hangover Can Be Considered Drunk Driving

When a Hangover Can Be Considered Drunk Driving

Many drivers are shocked when a police officer arrests them on DUI charges the day after drinking alcoholic beverages.

However, there are indeed some cases where field sobriety tests, such as a breath test, can cause a driver to get a DUI even when driving hungover.

The following circumstances can result in drivers being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol:

Combination of Alcoholic Beverages and Illegal Drugs

Certain types of drugs should never be mixed with alcoholic beverages because they increase the effects of alcohol on the human body. These include illegal drugs as well as many prescription medicine.

After a night of drinking and taking drugs, it is possible to wake up with a hangover and yet still have a significant amount of alcohol in the system. If a urine test is conducted at the police station, it may reveal that the driver is above the legal limit even if they no longer exhibit any symptoms of drunkenness, such as slurred speech.

A BAC Above the Legal Limit

There are a wide range of factors that determine how long it takes for a person to remove alcohol from their system, such as:

  • The amount of time since the last drink

  • Body weight

  • Amount of alcohol ingested

  • Physical activities

  • Any food or drugs taken alongside the alcohol

It usually takes between six and eight hours for a person's BAC to fall back below the legal limit. The law in California does not allow a person to drive with a BAC of above 0.8%, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This means that even if a person's BAC is below 0.8%, a law enforcement officer can still arrest them for driving under the influence (DUI).

A good rule of thumb for commercial drivers and other road users to remember is to wait at least one hour for each drink they have before driving a motor vehicle. This means if an average-sized man has five drinks at a party, it is advised that they wait five hours before driving, regardless of how well they feel.

Juveniles Driving With a Hangover

Juveniles who are not of the legal drinking age will get a DUI even if they are below the legal limit of blood alcohol content. In such cases, even a BAC of as low as 0.01% could result in a DUI conviction simply because the driver is not old enough to be drinking.

Common Myths About Drinking and Driving

There are many myths about how to safely drive after a person has finished drinking. Many of these myths have no scientific basis and can do more harm than good to those drivers who believe them.

The following are some of the common myths drivers need to know:

Drinking Coffee - While it is true that caffeinated drinks can mask the effects of alcohol, they cannot affect how quickly the body absorbs and eliminates it. In most cases, as soon as the energy boost provided by the coffee wears off, the resulting crash may cause the driver to feel even more drunk than before.

Eating While Drinking - Yes, eating some food while drinking will make the effects of alcohol less severe. However, it does not affect the amount of alcohol that goes into the system, nor does it make its elimination any faster.

Splashing Water on the Face or Driving With the Windows Opened - Both these actions are only temporary measures against the effects of taking large amounts of alcohol. As soon as the shock from the cold wears off, the person will again experience the symptoms of being drunk.

Penalties for a DUI Conviction the Day After Drinking

In California, the law does not consider whether the accused was arrested for a DUI the same day they were drinking or the day after. All that matters is the BAC at the time of the arrest. As such, the accused can face severe penalties if convicted of a DUI, such as:

  • Up to six months in a county jail

  • License suspension of up to six months

  • Fines of up to $2,000

  • A criminal record

A DUI conviction often stays on the driver's license for up to 10 years, during which time it will count against the driver each time they get arrested for driving under the influence.

Repeat offenders will risk having their DUI elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony, which will carry much stiffer penalties.

As such, a next-day DUI charge needs to be handled as seriously as any other type of DUI. The accused needs to approach a good attorney to fight for their rights in court and help them avoid being slapped with the maximum penalty. They'll have insight on To-Go alcohol laws in California too.

How to Avoid Driving Under the Influence

Considering the serious consequences of either being arrested for a DUI or causing a devastating car accident, all drivers should know how to avoid driving under the influence at all costs.

One thing every driver should get used to doing is planning for a safe night out. If a person knows they are going to be drinking at a party, they need to plan how they are going to get home at the end of the day. These plans can include:

  • Having a designated driver for the evening

  • Calling a taxi or rideshare service to drive them home

After getting home safely, another plan needs to be made regarding how they will drive to work in the morning. Choosing alternative transport, such as taking the subway even when feeling hungover is the best way to avoid being arrested for DUI at a routine traffic stop.

Steps to Take After Being Pulled Over by a Law Enforcement Officer

If pulled over after a night of heavy drinking, the driver needs to follow the police officer's instructions while trying to avoid giving information that will be used against them later on.

The driver has the right to refuse the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test that is conducted at the side of the road unless they have a prior conviction or are still serving probation.

If the driver refuses to take the PAS test, the police officer can take them into custody to conduct a breath test using a larger machine or to do a blood test. Refusal here may result in the DMV suspending the driver's license.

In any case, the best thing to do when arrested for a DUI is to call a good lawyer as soon as possible. While waiting for the attorney, the driver can write down any information about the traffic stop that may help build a strong defense. They can also answer questions such as Can a DUI hurt your gun rights In California?

How DUI Lawyers Can Help

How DUI Lawyers Can Help

Fighting against DUI charges is not always a simple matter. Often, it takes a very experienced lawyer to help the accused avoid jail time and get a reduced sentence. This is easier if the conviction is for a first offense.

A good DUI attorney can help in the following ways:

  • Analyze the evidence against the driver, including results from the PAS tests

  • Look for irregularities in the arresting process

  • Gather evidence to support the driver, including witness statements

  • Avoid violation of the driver's constitutional rights

  • Enter plea bargains on behalf of their client

  • Seek a reduced sentence, such as time served or community service

Facing DUI Charges? Call Goss Law Today

Being arrested for DUI in Sacramento, CA, can be a very frightening experience considering the possibility of spending time behind bars, paying huge fines, or being stuck with a criminal record.

However, with a good team of DUI lawyers fighting for their rights, all is not lost for drivers facing these charges. It is possible to walk away with nothing more than community service or probation.

Goss Law is well known throughout Sacramento for going the extra mile for its clients. Anyone facing DUI charges can call the law firm today and request a free consultation.


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