California Vehicle Code §23152 makes it unlawful for a driver to be operating a vehicle while under the influence of any alcohol or drugs. The code section used to only include subsections (a) and (b) but as of January 1, 2014, the code section has been revised and additional sections have been added.
Due to recent revisions, it is important that a person who has been charged with a DUI understand the language in the law.
The first part of the Code Section , subdivision(a), reads as follows:
It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
The first section addresses operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Note that there is no reference to drugs in this part of the statute. The law originally stated that it was either alcohol or drugs, but that is no longer the case.
Furthermore, note that in order for it to be unlawful, there needs to be two elements present: 1) under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, and 2) drive a vehicle. If a person is just driving a vehicle, they cannot be found guilty of a DUI, and if a person is just under the influence and not driving, they cannot be found guilty of a DUI. In order for a person to be convicted, they must meet both elements.
The second part of the statute, subdivision (b) reads as follows:
(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle
The law further specifies what will constitute being “under the influence”. If a person’s blood alcohol level is at .08 or more, then it will be unlawful.
It is important to understand that the statute does not state that you have to be over .08 to be charged with a DUI, it only specifies that someone who is found to be over .08 will be unlawfully driving a car. It does not state that a person who is found to be lower than .08 will not be charged.
Subsection (a) states that it is unlawful to drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. If a person is under .08, they can still be charged under subsection (a) which does not require any set blood alcohol.
It is important to understand the nuances of the law, as it could make a significant difference in your case. Accordingly, if you have been arrested for suspicion of DUI, take the charges very seriously and speak to a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer immediately!