Every state has its own implementation of drunk driving laws. In California, this is covered under Vehicle Code § 23152, "Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs." There are several facets of this law that should be understood. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to handle a situation where you are pulled over or even arrested for suspected DUI.
According to California Vehicle Code § 23152, there are six primary violations related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs:
It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. It is illegal to drive "under the influence" of alcohol, but what does this mean exactly? The general description of this offense is a situation where a driver's normal abilities have been impaired by alcohol. The prosecution may try to use field sobriety test results and the arresting officer's observations about the driver's behavior while driving and after being stopped to prove that he or she was under the influence of alcohol.
It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. Law enforcement will typically administer a breath test, or sometimes a blood test, after a driver is arrested for suspected DUI to determine his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In California, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08% or greater. If a breath or blood test yields an unlawful result, a driver will most likely be charged with DUI.
It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This is an interesting type of DUI charge. According to this, a person could be arrested and face DUI charges if he or she is addicted to drugs and is driving. There is an exception for people who are participating in approved narcotic treatment programs.
It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210. Drivers of commercial vehicles, such as buses, semi-trucks and big rigs, are held to stricter DUI laws. A commercial driver may be charged with DUI if a breath or blood test yields a result of .04% or greater.
It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. Driving under the influence of drugs is just as serious of an offense as driving under the influence of alcohol. It is also important to note that the law says "any drug." This may include prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as illegal street drugs. If a driver is found to be under the influence of any of these substances, he or she may face DUI charges. DUI of drugs charges, however, can be more difficult to prove and specialized field sobriety tests must be administered. Blood tests are typically used for drug-related DUI charges, instead of breath tests.
It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle. This section is self-explanatory, simply stating that a driver could be arrested for being under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. Any combination of the two, if law enforcement believes this has impaired a driver's abilities, could result in DUI charges.
A person may be convicted of DUI under just one of the above violations. This is an essential issue to discuss, as some people believe they can only be charged with DUI if they have an illegal blood alcohol level. You could face charges even if you pass a breath test or blood test, so long as law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney believe you displayed evidence that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Due to their complexity, DUI charges are best fought by an experienced attorney. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, we have the level of skill and experience necessary to challenge both misdemeanor and felony charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We represent clients across Orange County and can offer insight regarding our services and your unique case during a confidential consultation. Call today!