How Exactly Is A DUI Defined Under California State Law?

A DUI refers to a charge or driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

During a DUI case, the prosecution has the burden of proving to the judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was under the influence of/impaired by alcohol and/or drugs while they were driving.

When it comes to alcohol-only DUIs, there are two common charges that are usually used:

  • “General DUI” (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)): This is the standard “drunk driving” charge. To successfully convict someone of this charge, the prosecution must prove that the person was driving under the influence of alcohol, which impaired their ability to drive with the same caution and ordinary care of a sober person under similar circumstances.
  • “Elevated DUI” (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b)): This is a more severe charge that involves driving with blood alcohol content over a certain limit (.08% or higher). To prove a person guilty in this instance, the prosecution needs to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was driving with .08% blood alcohol content or higher.

The main drug-related DUI charge is California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f). This is the equivalent of a “general DUI.” In order to find a person guilty, the prosecution needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was driving under the influence of drugs and was so impaired by same that they could not exercise the skill and caution of a sober driver. It should also be noted that California DUIs apply to illegal as well as prescribed/over the counter drugs.

Though DUIs seem very intimidating, and certainly can be, a skilled attorney can make all the difference in the world when it comes to preventing a conviction. They know how to pinpoint and interrogate the weaker points in the elements of proof the prosecution needs to convince the judge and/or jury are true. The vulnerable points vary by case: sometimes an attorney questions the prosecution's ability to say for sure that a person was driving, or to say for sure the exact timing of their driving. Often, DUI defense attorneys will argue that while the person may have had a slightly elevated blood alcohol level, they were not actually impaired in their driving.

The fact is, when put up against an efficient attorney, it can often be quite difficult for prosecutors to successfully win these convictions, especially in cases that are more ambiguous. A skilled DUI attorney can usually find holes in the opposing argument big enough to establish reasonable doubt against the prosecutor's case.

Of course, this all depends on finding the right attorney, with a proven track record of winning these sorts of cases. In the San Fernando, California area, Kevin Moghtanei is that attorney. With nearly a decade of practice focused on DUI defense law, Kevin Moghtanei knows what it takes to successfully argue against a DUI conviction. He has the skills, knowledge, and experience to advocate for you, champion your cause, and help you resolve your DUI issue to move on with your life.

In California, a DUI charge can include driving under the influence of alcohol, a drug, or a combination of both alcohol and drugs. In order to successfully prosecute a person for DUI, the prosecution has the huge burden of convincing a judge or jury that the person was under the influence and impaired by the alcohol, drug, or combination of the two while at the time of driving. In many cases, the prosecution cannot successfully prove that the person was driving or the prosecution cannot establish the exact time of driving. It is not enough to show that the person had an elevated level of alcohol or drugs in his or her body at some later time after driving. That is not enough. Many DUI cases are regularly won by having a skilled DUI lawyer review the case and establish reasonable doubt against the prosecution's case.

When it comes to DUI cases involving allegations of alcohol only, California currently has two methods of charging a person with DUI. The first charge is California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), which I commonly refer to as “general DUI.” With a charge of 23152(a), the prosecution basically has to show that the person was drunk driving. Meaning, while driving, it must be shown that the person's mental or physical abilities were so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. Basically, the person is drunk driving. The second charge is California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) which is basically summarized as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. This code section has always been troubling to me as a DUI lawyer because it is virtually impossible for a person to know when he or she is driving with a .07% blood alcohol content vs. driving with a .10% blood alcohol content. For many people, the difference would not even be perceptible. Nevertheless, California criminalizes everyone who the prosecution can show was driving with a .08% or higher.

When it comes to drug DUI cases, the main charge is California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f). With this charge, the prosecution has to show the person was so under the influence and impaired by a drug that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. Currently, California does not have an equivalent for drug DUIs that exist for the .08% blood alcohol content DUI charge under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b). A charge of drug DUI can include both legal and illegal drugs. It is not a defense that a person had a valid doctor's prescription for a drug. If he or she is driving under the influence and impaired by a drug, then he or she can be charged with drug DUI under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f). From years of experience, a drug DUI case can be very problematic for prosecutors to successfully win, and my office has had a great deal of success in winning these cases.

If you or a loved one is facing a DUI Charges In The State Of California, don't wait to get help. Call (818) 538-5777 or contact us online to book a 20-minute strategy session with Kevin Moghtanei to talk over the details of your case.

Related Articles

DCD Law Is Here for You

At DCD Law, we focus on DUI and Criminal Defense and we are here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

Contact Us Today

DCD Law is committed to answering your questions about DUI and Criminal Defense law issues in San Fernando, California.

We offer a free consultation we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

451 S Brand Blvd.
Ste 202

San Fernando, CA 91340
818-225-5323
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 08:30am - 05:00pm