For most, it’s common knowledge that the legal blood alcohol (BAC) limit for operating a motor vehicle in the state of California is less than .08 percent. However, many people might not realize how much alcohol, or more importantly, how little alcohol it takes to get to a BAC of .08 percent or more.
This is why the Riverside Police Department has launched the Know Your Limit program. RPD officers go on foot into Riverside’s various entertainment districts where they contact club and bar goers outside the businesses. Volunteers are asked what they believe their BAC is currently, and if they feel they’d be safe drive a car. They then blow into a breathalyzer in front of their friends.
"It’s surprising for most how high their BAC is," says Lieutenant Mark Rossi of the RPD Traffic Bureau. "We had one volunteer who guessed his alcohol level was at .04. He ended up blowing a .12." Volunteer participants, even those with BAC’s in excess of .08, aren’t arrested for being drunk in public. Instead, they’re given a sticker and an educational card. The card provides information on alcohol consumption and burn-off times, legal driving limits, and common penalties for first time DUI drivers. First-time DUI drivers in California can expect up to 6 months imprisonment or 3-years probation, legal costs up to $10,000, a driver’s license suspension for up six months, and having their vehicle impounded.
The program isn't intended as a scare tactic. Instead, it’s designed to be provide an educational opportunity within the Riverside Community to encourage groups to designate a sober driver and make good choices. RPD is also working with the Downtown Partnership and other business owners to make sure the program is a positive influence on their patrons and does not negatively impact their business.
Thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS/AVOID-Step) we’ve outfitted a retired police car with graphics dividing the car into half a taxi, half a police car. Both sides of the vehicle are marked with the message “CHOOSE YOUR RIDE.” The car will be parked nearby while officers are out mixing with the public.
Volunteers and their friends are encouraged to take photographs and post them online to social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The “Choose your ride” car carries the Twitter hashtag “#RPDLIMITS” as well as our Facebook address.