Some people think buzzed driving is less risky than drunk driving. But drinking any amount of alcohol can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. And in California, there is no distinction between buzzed driving and drunk driving. Any DUI charge can have long-term effects on your future. 

If you’re facing drunk driving charges, an Oakland DUI defense lawyer at Lamano Law Office can help you through this difficult time. People make mistakes, and the consequences don’t have to follow you forever. Call or contact us now to discuss the best defense strategy for your case.  

Is There a Difference Between Buzzed Driving and Drunk Driving?

Not sure what buzzed driving means? In American culture, being “buzzed” means feeling the effects of alcohol without being legally drunk. In most states, driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 is illegal. Anyone with a BAC of 0.01 to 0.07 might be buzzed. 

However, there is no difference between buzzed driving and drunk driving under California law. A driver pulled over with a BAC of at least 0.08 percent is presumed to be driving under the influence. However, they could still be charged with DUI in California, even with a lower BAC. Police only need to show the person’s driving ability was impaired at the time of the arrest.  

Once alcohol is in your body, it is impossible to speed up how fast your body processes it. Drinking coffee, eating heavy foods, or napping will not make you sober. The only way to avoid a DUI charge is to not drink before driving. 

What is the Legal BAC Limit in California?

In California, driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is illegal. For commercial vehicle operators, the legal limit is 0.04. For people under 21, it’s against the law to drive with any amount of alcohol in the body. 

How Long Does It Take for Alcohol to Leave Your System? 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, how long alcohol stays in a person’s system depends on several factors, including:

  • How much alcohol you drink
  • Your metabolism 
  • Your weight 
  • Your gender
  • Whether you take certain prescription drugs
  • Whether you have chronic health conditions 

Can Buzzed Driving Lead to Accidents?

Buzzed driving can absolutely lead to car accidents. Any amount of alcohol in a person’s system can affect their ability to control a car. A drunk driving crash that injures or kills another person can carry severe penalties. Getting immediate advice from a DUI criminal defense lawyer is essential if you’ve been involved in a crash. 

What are the Penalties for Buzzed Driving?

The penalties for buzzed driving in California are the same as for drunk driving:

  • First DUI – Misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, $1,000 in fines, a six-month driver’s license suspension, and mandatory DUI classes.
  • Second or third DUI within 10 years – Similar penalties, but jail time increases to one year.
  • Fourth DUI in 10 years – May be a misdemeanor or felony. If a fourth DUI is charged as a felony, a person convicted could face up to three years in prison. 
  • DUI with accident and injury – May be a felony or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor carries a one-year jail term, while a felony is punishable by up to four years in prison.


Killing someone while driving under the influence of alcohol is a distinct offense in California known as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. DUI vehicular manslaughter can be a misdemeanor or a felony. In a misdemeanor case, penalties include up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. A felony vehicular manslaughter conviction is punishable by 16 months, two years, and four years in county jail and $10,000 in fines. You may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim’s family. 

Depending on the facts of the case, you could be charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Gross vehicular manslaughter is always a felony. To be convicted, the prosecutor must prove you were driving under the influence and acted with “gross negligence.” That means you acted in a reckless way that increased the chances of someone getting hurt or killed. Penalties include up to 10 years in prison, fines, and restitution to the family. A person convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter with a prior DUI conviction could face life in prison. 

Contact an Oakland DUI Attorney Now

Don’t leave your future up to the criminal justice system if you’ve been charged with DUI. Talk to the Oakland criminal defense attorneys at Lamano Law Office today. Our all-women law firm has over 30 years of combined experience helping people charged with crimes in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay area. Less than two percent of our clients serve jail time, and we’re ready to help get the best possible outcome for you. 

Call us today. We’ll answer in four rings or less.