DUI Laws in California

First off, it is important to realize that drinking and driving is not inherently illegal, provided that you are over the age of twenty-one. Generally speaking, drinking and driving only becomes a crime in two circumstances: (i) if your driving is impaired due to your ingestion of alcohol, or (ii) if your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is 0.08% or above.

DUI for Alcohol or Drug-Impaired Driving Regardless of BAC

California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) is a surprise to most people who are familiar with the concept of a DUI involving the legal limit for BAC. This California DUI law 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.”

A person may be deemed to be driving ”under the influence” any time his or her physical or mental abilities are impaired such that he or she no longer has the ability to drive “with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances.” As a result, it is not necessary to have a BAC of 0.08% or greater in order to be charged with a Ventura DUI. Our Ventura DUI attorney has handled numerous cases involving BAC levels below 0.08%.

DUI for BAC Level 0.08% or Above

You can also be charged with a Ventura DUI regardless of if your driving is impaired if your BAC level is 0.08 or above. California Penal Code Section 23152(b) provides:

”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.”

To establish a violation of this California DUI law, the prosecutor must prove that you had a BAC of 0.08% or greater while you were driving. It does not have to prove that the alcohol had any effect on your ability to safely operate your vehicle.

In general, the penalties are the same for Ventura DUIs under 23152(a) and 23152(b). For DUI charges under 23152(a), it typically does not matter whether drugs or alcohol (or both) were involved.

Other California DUI Laws

In addition to charges under 23152(a) and 23152(b), drivers can face DUI and related charges under the following circumstances:

  • DUI Involving Injury – DUIs that result in personal injuries are charged under California Vehicle Code Section 23153, and carry more substantial penalties.
  • Drivers Under 21 – CCalifornia is a zero-tolerance state for underage drinking, meaning that anyone under age twenty-one caught driving with a BAC of .01% or higher will face a license suspension.
  • Open Container – Driving while consuming alcohol is generally illegal in California, regardless of impairment or BAC level. It is also illegal to have an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle.
  • Commercial Drivers – The California DUI laws provided that the BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%.
  • Aircraft Pilots – Pilots may not fly less than eight hours after consuming alcohol, while under the impairing influence of alcohol or any other drug, or while having a BAC of 0.04% or above.

Ventura DUI Lawyer
To find out more about which California DUI laws apply to your Ventura DUI case, contact us today.