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DUI Alcohol: California Vehicle Code 23152

Defense Lawyers in Los Angeles Protecting the Rights of People Accused of Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is a serious problem, and we all want safer streets for families and our communities. That said, people make mistakes from time to time. Maybe you shouldn’t have had that last drink before leaving the party, or maybe you were called away earlier than expected due to an emergency. In some cases, overzealous policing results in false accusations of drunk driving. This can occur when police forget that drunk driving is against the law and that responsible adults are allowed to have a glass or two of wine or beer with dinner before driving home. Still, in others, the police mistake issues related to a medical condition as signs of intoxication, resulting in unfounded criminal charges.

Whatever the reason you were arrested, these charges are very serious and can cause serious problems in your life - fines, possible jail time, as well as damage to your reputation and even loss of employment. Don’t let a simple mistake or lapse in judgment derail your life. With over 50 years of courtroom experience, the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley are here to help. If you would like a free consultation about your DUI case, call us at 800-755-5174 or send us an email via our online contact form.

California DUI Law Basics

We all know that drunk driving is against the law. Unfortunately for those facing drunk driving charges, the law is actually somewhat complicated. There is the “subjective” standard found in California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), which prohibits any person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Section 23152(b),(d) and (e) prohibit driving a vehicle with a specific blood alcohol content (BAC):

  1. It prohibits driving any person from driving any vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or greater.
  2. It prohibits any person from driving a commercial vehicle or driving a private vehicle with a paying passenger (e.g. Uber or Lyft) with a BAC of 0.04 or greater.

Regardless of the code section under which you are charged, you are facing serious legal penalties. For this reason, if you’ve been arrested for DUI in any capacity, you should contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can.

What’s the Difference?

Under the subjective standard of 23152(a), the prosecution does not need to prove that you had a specific BAC in order for you to be convicted - they just need to prove that you under the influence.

In order to prove that you were under the influence, the prosecution will rely on the testimony of the arresting officer. The officer will likely first testify to the behavior that led him or her to pull you over, such as:

  • Failure to obey traffic signs;
  • Weaving or otherwise driving erratically;
  • Violation of various traffic laws.

From there, the officer will testify to your behavior during the traffic stop that led to your being charged with DUI. Here are some examples of the facts that the prosecution will want the officer to testify to:

  • There was an odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle;
  • Your speech was slurred;
  • Your eyes were red and watering;
  • You were irrational or incoherent;
  • You were uncooperative or even belligerent.

If field sobriety tests were administered, the prosecution will want the officer to testify that you failed the tests given.

The point here is that you can be convicted of DUI if they can prove that you were under the influence of alcohol, even if they can’t prove you had the requisite BAC. To be clear, the prosecution may want to introduce evidence regarding your BAC to support their case, but technically speaking, it isn’t required for them to do so.

Potential Penalties

First-time DUIs are typically a misdemeanor, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take these charges seriously - it’s still a criminal conviction on your record with the potential for jail time and serious fines. In addition, a criminal conviction can harm your reputation and even make it hard to find a job. The potential consequences get even more serious if (1) you have prior DUIs on your record; and/or (2) someone was injured as a result of your driving under the influence. The number of prior convictions and the severity of the injuries will lead to harsher penalties. Below is a chart that summarizes the potential penalties you may be facing:

OffenseJailFineDriver’s License
1st offense - misdemeanorUp to 6 months in county jailUp to $1,000Revoked for 6-10 months, but driver is eligible for a restricted license
2nd offense - misdemeanorUp to 1 year in county jailUp to $1,000Revoked for two years; driver is eligible for a restricted license after 12 months
3rd offense - misdemeanorMinimum 120 days up to 1 year in county jailUp to $1,000Revoked for three years; driver is eligible for a restricted license after 18 months
DUI with injury - misdemeanorMinimum 5 days to 1 year in county jailUp to $5,000 plus restitution to injured parties1 to 3 years
DUI with injury - felony16 months to 16 years in state prison$1000-$5000, plus restitution to injured partiesFive years
Felony DUI (charged when you have 4 or more DUI convictions within a ten year period)16 months, two years, or 3 years in state prisonUp to $1,000Four years

As you can see, the penalties become more severe with more convictions and injuries. In addition to the penalties listed above, you will also be ordered to attend DUI school for 3 months or as long as 30 months, depending on your case. It’s also important to note that some DUI charges carry total revocation of your license, with no eligibility to get a restricted license.

Aggravating Factors

In determining the penalties laid out above, there are certain aggravating factors that will affect the penalties imposed if you are convicted. Here are some of the most common aggravating factors:

  • You were driving at an excessive speed;
  • You were under the age of 21;
  • You had a child under the age of 14 in the car;
  • You caused an accident;
  • You refused the breathalyzer test;
  • You had a BAC of .15% or higher.

Defending Against DUI Charges

Facing DUI charges can be extremely intimidating, and you may be tempted to just admit everything, plead guilty, and hope for mercy from the judge. This is probably the worst possible strategy. An experienced DUI attorney in California can evaluate your case, spot the prosecution’s weaknesses, and get you a result that’s fair. Your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney may be able to raise legal defenses, potentially including the following:

  • The breathalyzer or other testing equipment was not properly calibrated or otherwise functioning correctly.
  • There were other factors that caused you to appear to be under the influence of alcohol, such as fatigue, prescription medications, or illness.
  • The police didn’t administer the tests correctly, or the tests are inherently flawed.
  • The police violated your constitutional rights or failed to follow the proper procedures during the arrest.

There are a number of other defenses that can be raised, but you needed someone who will aggressively contest every aspect of the prosecution’s case if you want to avoid suffering the harshest penalties available. Your California criminal defense attorney should work to get your charges dismissed altogether or at least reduced to something that’s fair.

In many cases, this means getting your DUI reduced to either a “dry reckless” or a “wet reckless.” A charge for dry reckless driving is a reckless driving charge without any alcohol involved. A “wet reckless” is more problematic - it is a charge only available as part of a plea bargain, and implies that there was alcohol was involved in the violation. While it carries reduced penalties (e.g. you may keep your license, avoid jail time, pay less in fines, etc.), it will be treated as a DUI conviction if you are charged with DUI in the future.

Contact a California DUI Defense Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved when is facing DUI charges, you need a lawyer who will fight for your future. The criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley offer our clients aggressive, experienced legal representation to get you a fair result. Call us at 800-755-5174 or email us today if you would like a free consultation.

DUI Alcohol

DUI Alcohol

According to VC 23152 (a), it is illegal for any person to drive under the influence of alcohol.

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DUI Marijuana

DUI Marijuana

As experienced defense attorneys, we have various instances of the successful defense of DUI marijuana cases.

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DUI Drugs

DUI Drugs

The drug can be any controlled, illegal or prescription substance that can impair a person’s ability to drive a vehicle safely.

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Hit and Run

Hit & Run

A hit and run case is when the driver after hitting another car(s) or damaging the property did not stop and left the scene without notifying other drive or property owner and law enforcement.

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Drunk in public

Drunk in Public

You must consult an experienced defense lawyer for your legal representation in court to avoid conviction or to reduce charges to minimum.

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Driving Without a License

The situation and circumstances of your charges play an important role in determining the conviction and penalty.

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Recent Results

  • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

  • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

  • Client's estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

  • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client's glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

  • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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