DUI Based on Impairment

In all 50 states, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%. If you drive with a BAC of .08%, you’re automatically guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) in all states. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have a BAC of .08% or more to be charged with DUI. You can be arrested and charged if your BAC is below the .08% legal limit – this is called a DUI based on impairment.

Under Section 23152(a) of the California Vehicle Code, it reads, “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influenceof any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.” But what does it mean to be under the influence?

Generally, it means it’s illegal for someone to consume alcohol or any drug and to drive if the substance affects the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. As you can imagine, there can be a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to low BAC DUI cases.

Factors that can affect how alcohol affects the body and driving ability:

  • Gender: Alcohol affects women more than men especially.
  • Body weight: Alcohol affects small, low weight men and women more than people who are normal weight or obese.
  • Tolerance: Someone with a low alcohol tolerance may become impaired much more easily by alcohol than people who drink regularly.
  • Medications: Certain medications; for example, anti-psychotics can dramatically intensify the effects of alcohol.
  • Fatigue and illness: If someone is sick or tired, or both, a small amount of alcohol can cause them to be impaired faster.
  • Lack of food: If someone has a drink or two on an empty stomach, it can lead to a rapid rise in BAC and therefore affect driving ability.
  • Strength of drink: If someone has a drink or two with a lot of liquor, it can be like having three or four drinks.

Are you facing DUI charges even though you had barely anything to drink? If so, there could have been other factors at play that made you seem drunk or impaired even though you weren’t at all. Perhaps you were fatigued, sick, nauseous from certain vitamins or too much exercise, or experiencing a diabetic low. Any of these could mimic impairment.

If the arresting officer didn’t find you in possession of alcohol or drugs and he or she didn’t take a blood test to confirm if any other substance was in your system, the state’s case may be weak. If this is your situation, we may be able to argue that you weren’t under the influence at all, but were simply experiencing another physiological condition that had nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.

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