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Why Was I Charged with a Los Angeles DUI When My BAC was Under a .08?

Under California Vehicle Code §23152, “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.”

Most people are familiar with California Vehicle Code §23152 (b) which states that 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.”

Due to the fact that most people are familiar with this second part of the code section, there has been a lot of misconceptions on what evidence an officer must have prior to arresting a person for the suspicion of driving under the influence.
A person does not need a blood alcohol of .08 or higher to be arrested for a suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Under §23152 (a) ANY amount of alcohol or drugs in a person’s system is sufficient for them to be arrested for driving under the influence.

Because most people are not familiar with what is specifically stated in the code section, they are generally frustrated as to why they have been taken into custody when they have a very low blood alcohol level.

The bad news is that even after one beer, an officer has the authority to take you into custody and charge you with a DUI. The good news is that with the help of an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles DUI lawyer, you will likely get the charge dismissed or in the very least, reduced.

Let’s consider an example. David is a very responsible guy. He has just graduated from Business School, and has secured a job with a big corporation. He is growing in the company very quickly and remains focused. As a result, his co-workers and friends admire him for his dedication. He is very disciplined and does not drink often or go out and party. David proposes to his girlfriend and to celebrate, he drinks two glasses of champagne. On his way home he is pulled over by officers for driving too slow in the fast lane. He is asked if he has been drinking and he replies yes. The officers ask him to submit to an alcohol screening test and he blows a .03. Officers arrest him and take him into custody.

David has a very strong character background. An experienced lawyer would gather letters of recommendation, character reports and present them to the District Attorney, arguing that David is a good guy and is responsible. They would argue that the case needs to be dismissed or in the very least reduced to an infraction.

If the Prosecutor agrees, then David would not be facing a misdemeanor criminal charge. However, it needs to be argued carefully and with the right arguments. If it they are not able to convince the Prosecutor they case may move forward. It is very important if you find yourself in this situation, that you retain counsel. The cost is worth the success you will have in your criminal case.