Many a night has ended with the famous line “sleep it off.” You’ve probably heard it after having a few too many drinks. But does sleeping it off really work? Few realize it, but driving the morning after you drink could be considered driving under the influence.

Driving Under the Influence Defined (VC 23152)

DUI the morning after
DUI is defined as driving with a BAC of .08% or higher.

California Vehicle Code Section 23152 makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Driving under the influence is defined as having a blood-alcohol content level (BAC) of:

  • 0.08% or higher for those 21 and older
  • 0.04% or higher for those operating a commercial vehicle
  • 0.01% or higher for those under the age of 21

In order for you to be convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater under Vehicle Code 23152(b), the prosecution must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you drove a vehicle, and
  • That you had a BAC of 0.08% or greater at the time of driving1

You Can Get a DUI the Morning After

While factors such as age, gender and body weight can affect your BAC, simple math can show us that for the average person, sleeping it off may not be enough to reduce your BAC below the legal limit.

The body eliminates alcohol from the blood at an average rate of 0.016% per hour.2 So for example, if you stop drinking at 2 a.m. (when bars in California must stop serving alcohol), your BAC will continue to rise for another 30 minutes as you finish absorbing the alcohol in your stomach. If by 2:30 a.m. you have reached a peak BAC of 0.16%, at 8 a.m. you will have only just dipped below the 0.08% legal limit for those 21 and older.

It is important to remember that you do not need to have a BAC above the legal limit to receive a DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a). If you fail a field sobriety test or show signs of impairment, this can give an officer probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence.

Consequences of DUI in California

If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you face a sentence of up to six months in county jail and a fine up to $2,000.

Once convicted, the DMV will suspend your license for six months, and you may be ordered to complete an alcohol education program.

A Skilled DUI Lawyer Can Defend You

DUI Defense
A DUI defense attorney can attack BAC tests.

If you have been charged with DUI, a skilled DUI attorney can raise several defenses on your behalf. These defenses may include:

  • Arguing that you were not under the influence if your BAC was under 0.08%
  • Arguing that your arrest was based on faulty testing procedures
  • Arguing that, while your BAC was at or above 0.08% at the time of testing, your BAC was below 0.08% at the time of driving

Contacting an experienced DUI defense attorney who can argue these or other defenses can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact a DUI Defense Attorney at Wallin & Klarich

Wallin & Klarich has been successfully defending those facing DUI charges for over 30 years. We can help you, too.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is a skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us at (877) 466-5254 for a free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. [http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=veh&group=23001-24000&file=23152-23229.1]
2. [http://www.newhealthguide.org/How-Long-Does-Alcohol-Stay-In-Your-System.html]

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