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Car Insurance Information after a DUI
DUI Laws
Penalties DUI

DUI Laws

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California has two basic drunk driving laws, found in Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b):

  •  23152(a) It is a misdemeanor to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  •  23152(b) It is a misdemeanor to drive with .08% or more of alcohol in your blood.

Note: In most cases, both the 23152(a) and (b) offenses will be charged. Even though there is only one act, the law says that a defendant charged with drinking and driving can be convicted of BOTH offenses -- but can only be punished for one (the punishments are identical). Vehicle Code section 23153 sets forth the "felony DUI" provisions where an injury results from the drunk driving, while Penal Code sections 191.5 and 192 describe the crime of "vehicular manslaughter" where there is a death.

VC 23152

VC 23152:

Alcohol and or drugs:
(a). It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of an intoxicating beverage,or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage or drug to drive a vehicle

The difference between a misdeamnor and a felony is: misdemeanor driving under the influence charges means that the charge involved no injury or property damage and the penalty is up to 6 months in jail whereas a felony has injury and the penalty could be as much as up to one year in a state prison.

The problem immediately is what does "under the influence" mean?
The most common understanding of the term is when the person starts to stumble and fall, lose coordination, have slower reaction times, lose the ability to process information, experience visual impairments or go through personality changes.

Paragraph (b) of VC23152 states:

VC 23152
(b) It is unlawful for any person who has a .08 percent or more by weight to drive a vehicle
This more exacting definition of what under the influence is was put in the vehicle code in 1982 and is considered "per se". When you are arrested for DUI and you must submit to a chemical test, the results of that test can be used as evidence in court. this is called presumptive or prima facie evidence. Technically, prima facie means "at first view." Legally, it means "adequate to establish the fact unless refuted" .

Illegal "per se" law means that no evidence other than the results of a properly obtained chemical test are required to convict the defendant. In other words, if your chemical test results are a .08 (and all else was legal i.e. stop, arrests etc.) your
considered under the influence according to California law.
Legal presumptions about levels of alcohol in the blood are stated in presumptions about under the influence are stated in another law VC 23155.