California DUI Laws

California Drunk Driving Statutes arise from the Vehicle Code. They are typically referred to as “Count A” and “Count B.” Typically, an arrested person is charged with both Count A and Count B in a DUI arrest, although it is possible to be solely charged with either Count A or Count B by itself.

California Vehicle Code 23152 (a)

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.

This statute essentially states that it is illegal to drive any vehicle if alcohol is influencing your actions. It is a rather subjective statute and is generally written in conjunction with 23152(b). It primarily focuses on the condition of the driver. To be convicted of violating this law, the driver must be found that he or she was unable to operate their vehicle with the caution characteristic of a sober person. Evidence there will include driving patterns, field sobriety test performance, physical symptoms, and chemical test results. Even if you have a legal blood alcohol (BAC of 0.03) you still may be considered under the influence and cited for a DUI under this provision!

California Vehicle Code 23152 (b)

It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

This statute attempts to draw a bright line between legal and illegal acts, depending upon blood alcohol content as measured by scientific instruments, and has no focus on the condition of the motorist. It is this statute that also triggers the California DMV proceeding as well.

The BAC level is based upon the percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood, based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. There is also a reputable presumption that any test within 3 hours of the driving act which shows 0.08 or more means that the BAC was also 0.08 or more at the time of driving.

Nevertheless, 23152(b) can be a confusing statute, since alcohol levels change over time, and presumptions can be rebutted. Just because a California DUI arrestee gave a breath or blood test at the police building that was more than the legal limit doesn’t mean that the motorist was above the limit at the time they were behind the wheel.

There are other statutes as well under California Vehicle Code 23152:

(c) It is unlawful for any person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

(d) It is unlawful for any 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.

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