- Which Laws are Used to File Driving Under the Influence Charges?
- What Blood Alcohol Percentage is Needed for Driving Under the Influence Charges to be Filed?
- What is Reasonable Suspicion and How Does it Apply to DUI?
- If I am Pulled Over for DUI, Do I Have to Do a Breath Test?
- If I Have Been Arrested for DUI, Do I Have to do a Breath or Blood Test?
- Can I be Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?
- Which Government Personnel File Charges in a DUI Arrest?
Which Laws are Used to File Driving Under the Influence Charges?
In California there are two primary vehicle codes used in DUI incidents. The first is Vehicle Code 23152, which is used in DUIs that do not involve injury. Under VC 2152 you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on a number of factors including whether you have previous DUI convictions. The second vehicle code used is 23153, which applies to DUI incidents that involve injury. VC 23153 carries more severe penalties then VC 23152. It can also be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
California law says that if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher then you can be charged with driving under the influence. Keep in mind though that technically you can be arrested for driving under the influence with a lower (BAC) if the police observe sufficient evidence that your ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired.
For a police, sheriff, or CHP officer to pull you over, he or she must always have what is called a “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has been committed. This means that there must be sufficient evidence that the driver of the vehicle is impaired. Determining what is reasonable is always subjective (or up to the interpretation of each individual). For example, a weaving vehicle is not in and of itself enough evidence to conduct a traffic stop for suspicion of DUI. Therefore it is always advisable to have a DUI defense attorney to protect your rights and interests.
If you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, the police will first ask you some preliminary questions to determine what you have been doing and whether there is enough evidence to conduct a more thorough investigation. If these preliminary questions indicate to the officer that you have been drinking, then you will be asked to step from the vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tasks that give an indication of whether you are sufficiently impaired so that it is not safe for you to operate a motor vehicle. If after these field sobriety tests the officer believes that you are impaired, you will be asked to perform a breath test. You are not required to take a pre-arrest breath test. Nonetheless, you can still be arrested for DUI based on the officer’s interpretation of the field sobriety tests.
Under California law, if you have been arrested under suspicion for DUI, you are required to provide a breath or blood sample to test for your blood alcohol content (BAC). If you refuse to provide a breath or blood (or some cases urine) sample, the consequences are increased jail time and longer terms of license suspension. Remember though that this applies only if you have been arrested. You have the right to refuse a breath or blood test before an arrest.
Yes, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs if you take any substance that impairs your ability to drive safely. So even though personal use of marijuana is now legal in California, if you use marijuana and then operate a motor vehicle in an erratic and unsafe manner, the police can charge you with DUI. The same is true for use of any other drug, including prescription medication. The same fines, jail time, and other penalties apply to DUI with drugs.
This is usually an area of confusion for people who have been arrested for DUI. The police, sheriff, or CHP are the law enforcement personnel who make the arrest. They will gather evidence and then turn it all over to the District Attorney’s Office of the particular county in which the arrest took place. For example, in Sacramento county, the Sacramento sheriff’s department or the Sacramento city police will hand over evidence to the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office. Then it is the District Attorney’s Office that will determine if there is enough evidence to actually file charges. As your attorney, I will argue and negotiate with the DA’s office to have charges dropped or reduced.