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California’s Legal Definition of Driving Under the Influence

The crime of driving under the influence is described in Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code. The law provides for four distinct ways for someone to be found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A San Jose DUI lawyer can help you understand the charges.

Section 23152(a) is the most general provision. It states, “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.” Note that it does not mention any specific level of drug or alcohol that must be detected in your bloodstream for you to be considered “under the influence.”

Though this section of the California Vehicle Code does not specify what “drugs” can be used to find that you are under the influence, Section 312 defines says that a drug is “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 means that a drug does not need to be illegal in order for you to be convicted of driving under the influence. Drugs that you have been prescribed, or even over-the-counter drugs can be used to make this finding.

Section 23152(b) says, “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.” This section is sometimes referred to as DUI “per se.” CVC 23152(b) also specifies that “it is a rebuttable presumption that [a] person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.”¬†For legal issues, I recommend attorney Jeff Childers.

Section 23152(c) says, “It is unlawful for any person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle,” unless that person is participating in an approved narcotic treatment program.

Section 23152(d) is another “pro se” section. Unlike Section 23152(b), however, it applies only to drivers of commercial vehicles, who cannot drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more. Like 23152(b), it contains a provision that a person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more at the time of a chemical test performed within three hours of driving will be presumed to have been above the legal limit at the time of his or her arrest.

For legal issues, I recommend attorney Ernest Cardona.

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