California’s DUI laws are split into two (2) sections. First, we have Vehicle Code 23152 (a). Second, is Vehicle Code 23152 (b). This post will focus on California’s Vehicle Code 23152 (a) – Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs.
The text of the current Vehicle Code section 23152 (a) reads: “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”
Basically, this section makes it unlawful to drive a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Under this section, it does not matter what your BAC level is. You can be convicted of this offense, even without having any alcohol in your system, simply by having drugs in your system. This can even by prescription drugs! As far as alcohol is concerned, even if your BAC level is a mere .01%, if the prosecution can show you drove under the influence, you can be convicted of this offense.
The main idea behind Vehicle Code 23152 (a) is that your driving must be impaired. Prosecuting agencies (usually, District Attorney offices), often try to show impairment by providing evidence of “bad” driving. This may include things like weaving within your lane, speeding, getting into an accident, driving too slowly, failure to use a turn signal, etc. Think about that for a second, you’re being accused of DUI because you failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign, or failed to use a turn signal, even though no other traffic was in the area. That is how the Prosecution is “proving” you were impaired. How often do you make a turn without using your turn signal first? How often do you make a “California Stop” and roll through a stop sign?
In practice, this issue is something I come across all the time. You don’t have to be drunk. You don’t have to be falling over yourself. There is nothing that says you must be drunk in order to be convicted of Vehicle Code 23152 (a). If alcohol is detected, even if only a small amount, the Prosecution will look for anything to latch onto, and use that as the basis for claiming your impairment. So, if you go out to celebrate a birthday, graduation, etc., make sure you have a designated driver or you could be facing harsh consequences if convicted of a violation of Vehicle Code 23152(a) and/or Vehicle Code 23152(b).
The difference between Vehicle Code 23152 (a) and 23152 (b), is simple. To be found in violation of Vehicle Code 23152 (a), you must be proven to be driving, on a roadway, and impaired due to drugs or alcohol. To be found in violation of Vehicle Code 23152 (b), your BAC must be above .08% – of course, there is more to it than that.
If you, or someone you know, has pending charges alleging a violation of Vehicle Code 23152(a) or Vehicle Code 23152(b), contact DUI Attorney Matthew Murillo for expert DUI defense. Your license (and potentially livelihood) may depend on it.