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Neale & Fhima, LLP: California Needs a No-Tolerance BAC Policy for Rideshare and Commercial Drivers

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Dana Point, California, Aug. 24, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Starting in July 2018, rideshare drivers in California are being held to a higher standard when it comes to blood-alcohol content (BAC) levels. A new state law requires Uber and Lyft drivers to adhere to the same restrictions as commercial vehicle drivers, who are considered intoxicated if their BAC exceeds 0.04 percent.

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As the law reflects the increasing assimilation of rideshare workers into the ranks of professional drivers, attorneys from Southern California law firm Neale & Fhima are questioning the validity of a 0.04 percent BAC.

 

"There is only one safe BAC level and it's zero," said Aaron Fhima. "We have zero-tolerance laws for drivers under the age of 21, so it's reasonable for us to ask why professional drivers aren't being held to the same standards."

 

At 0.04 percent BAC, a drinker might experience several effects, including reduced inhibition and impaired judgment. The amount of alcohol needed to reach 0.04 percent also varies greatly from one person to another. Factors that influence a person's BAC include body weight, gender, age, how much food has been ingested and the quickness with which the alcohol was consumed.

 

"There are so many variables at play with BAC and driver performance," said Matt Neale. "One driver with a BAC of 0.04 percent might show very few signs of impairment, while another would be impaired to the point that they would pose a threat to other drivers."

 

In January, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggested that the traditional BAC limit most states employ - 0.08 percent for all drivers - should be lowered to 0.05 percent. The panel behind the study pointed to the reduced number of drunk driving fatalities in other countries that enacted stricter standards.

 

Neale and Fhima, LLP said that the same logic behind the report should motivate higher standards for professional drivers in California.

 

"If you're going to drive professionally, then your system should have no alcohol," Fhima said.

 

Nearly 30 people die each day in the United States due to alcohol-impaired driving.

 

Over a one-year period in 2014 and 2015, rideshare company Uber received 2,000 complaints from customers expressing concern that their drivers were intoxicated. Of those complaints, Uber only deactivated the accounts of 574 drivers, often with a significant delay, according to a state Public Utilities Commission report.

 

While the new California law is a step in the right direction, lawmakers should consider even stronger stances against alcohol consumption among professional drivers, the attorneys said.

 

"Why have a legally mandated margin of error on our roads?" Neale said. "It makes no sense."

Aaron Fhima
Neale & Fhima, LLP
(949) 661-1007
aaron@nealefhima.com

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