23152 VC Explained
DUI law in California can be confusing to some people. DUI laws can vary state to state meaning that some specific situations may be illegal in one state but legal in another state. Drinking and driving is illegal in all states, but there are many nuances to the law making specific instances debatable. For example, California DUI laws apply to driving a vehicle and, in Maine, they apply to operating or attempting to operate a vehicle. This means that a man who sits behind the wheel of car while drunk and fumbles with his keys would likely be charged with DUI in Maine but has a good chance of beating the not being charged in California because he did not start or drive the vehicle.
California Vehicle Code VC 23152 is broken up into several parts. As of January 1st 2014, this law is broken up into six parts; subsections (a) through (f). Each of these subsections, except for (d) which deals with commercial drivers, is explained in detail below.
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)
(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
This is the first part of the law that can lead to drunk driving charges. Under this subsection, a driver can be arrested for DUI for having any amount of alcohol in their system as long as they were exhibiting signs of impairment.
This subsection is used to charge DUI suspects who have a blood alcohol concentration that is above zero but is still less than the legal limit. Perhaps more often, it is used in cases where a suspect refuses a chemical sobriety test.
Proving a driving was under the influence is a lot harder than proving the driver was legally drunk. The arresting officer will usually have to testify that they witnessed the suspect driving poorly and swerving or showing other signs of drunk driving. In many of these cases, the dashboard camera video from the officer's car will be important evidence to demonstrate to the court how impaired the suspect appeared.
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b)
(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.
This is the second way that a person can be charged with drunk driving under VC 23152. California law states that any driver whose sobriety test results show an alcohol concentration of .08% within two hours of arrest are considered to be impaired by alcohol. Even if a suspect can prove that they were not physically impaired, the mere fact that they were over the legal limit is enough evidence to convict them for DUI.
The only defense suspects of this nature face is to argue that they were stopped unlawfully or that the test produced inaccurate results.
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(c), (e) and (f)
(c) It is unlawful for a 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.
(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
These subsections all deal with drugged driving. Drugged driving is harder for police to detect and prove than drunk driving for a number of reasons; one being that drugs remain in a person's system even after the effects have worn off. These laws do not apply solely to illegal drugs either. California Vehicle Code Section 312 defines a “drug” as:
any substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions.
This definition is left vague on purpose as a way to cover all possible drugs. Any illegal, prescription or over the counter drug could fall under this description. In addition, subsection (c) makes it illegal for a drug addict to drive a vehicle. This is a way for police to argue that someone who claims that the drug in their system was consumed at an earlier date to still be charged with DUI. Drug related DUI law is a growing area of interest as the number of drug DUIs increase.
Call A DUI Lawyer for More Information
If you have been arrested for DUI in California and want to know more about how VC 23152 applies to your case, call our office right now. You can speak to an experienced attorney right away.