What federal laws have impacted DUI charges in California?

California – October 30, 2020

It is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to drive while under the influence of alcohol, or other drugs that could impair driving capabilities.  Some states refer to this illegal action as DUI (driving under the influence), and others as DWI (driving while intoxicated), but it is a serious charge with high stakes punishments attached to it.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that roughly 40 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths are alcohol-related to some degree. Currently, approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher). Many of these deaths include bus passengers, or tractor trailer drivers who must abide by federal trucking commercial and common carrier laws.

Deadly combination.

Drinking and driving is a deadly combination that frequently occurs in California, despite stringent guidelines and federal and state laws against it.  When individuals make the poor decision to get behind the wheel of an automobile after drinking, they could be arrested, or cause a traffic crash resulting in serious injury, or death. They may need to speak with a California criminal defense attorney.  Over the past decade NHTSA reported approximately a quarter of a million people were killed in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and more than 650,000 persons were injured in those crashes.

Federal DUI.

Federal DUI laws are strong and strictly enforced in Federal courts, carrying serious charges and penalties.  President Clinton signed Federal DUI laws into existence in 2000 that set a new national standard for drunken driving by changing the BAC legal limit to 0.08 to save American lives.  The laws were established to complement state drunk driving laws and apply to drunk drivers on federal lands including military bases and national parks.  Even though it is illegal to drive drunk in every state with a BAC of .08 or higher, one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 50 minutes in the United States in 2018. Penalties may be even harsher when commercial vehicles, or common carriers, such as buses, are involved in accidents due to drunk driving.


Under California law, everyone is responsible, not only for the result of their own willful acts, but also for an injury, or wrongful death occurrence during the course of ordinary care. This means that if a driver is responsible for any part of activities that led to injury, or wrongful death, the compensation will be adjusted in accordance with the assignment of  fault to each driver.  When an accident is caused by a criminally negligent act, such as driving under the influence, criminal action may ensue, in addition to civil legal action for personal injury, property damage and wrongful death losses. California personal injury attorneys are instrumental in establishing fault.

Complex case.

Experienced accident lawyers can work through the intricacies of a complex accident case by addressing the cited criminal components, responsibility of insurance coverage, degrees of fault and the severity of the accident damages toward a timely award.   A wrongful death legal action can be filed in court if a person dies because of the negligent, reckless, or deliberate act of another, including driving while drunk.

Seek legal counsel.

 Seek legal counsel immediately after DUI causes an accident that results in personal injury, property damage, or death at the Law Offices of Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates. They can be instrumental in the financial recovery necessary to address physical and emotional recovery of victims, and harmful loss of life impacts to surviving loved ones and relevant funeral and burial expenses.


Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation

501 West Broadway, Suite 1650

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619-233-8021

Fax: 619-233-3730











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