Facing DUI charges for drunk driving can put yourself and your future in jeopardy, but it doesn’t have to be this way. As a DUI defense lawyer at the Law Office of Cherish Om, I have the skill, expertise, and passion to represent those accused of driving under the influence under DUI Defense VC 23152(a)(b). Contact my office today to schedule a consultation and fight for your rights together.
Being accused of driving under the influence is a terrifying experience with life-altering consequences. This is especially true if you live in California, the state with some of the most stringent DUI laws in the country. You may not be sure what to expect next, but you can be confident in one thing: given what’s at stake, it is crucial to start working with an experienced DUI defense lawyer as early as possible.
At the Law Office of Cherish Om, I understand the seriousness of DUI charges and I’m dedicated to zealously representing clients facing criminal charges under Vehicle Code 23152(a)(b). My unwavering commitment to attaining the most favorable outcomes possible combined with my deep understanding of California’s DUI laws gives clients an unparalleled advantage in the courtroom.
Are you or your loved one facing DUI charges in California? Contact the Law Office of Cherish Om to get the focused and results-oriented representation you need and deserve during this difficult time.
Driving Under the Influence – California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) and 23152(b)
California’s DUI laws may seem complex and confusing, especially when you learn that the state’s Vehicle Code contains two separate sections related to drunk driving: 23152(a) and 23152(b). While these are technically two separate crimes in California, a defendant cannot be convicted of a violation under the two sections.
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)
This section explicitly prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol, no matter what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is at the time of the offense. In other words, you can be arrested for DUI even if your BAC is below the state’s legal limit of 0.08% when law enforcement has reason to believe you are too intoxicated to operate your motor vehicle as safely and cautiously as a sober person.
Typically, motorists lawfully arrested for DUI are legally required to submit to a blood or breath test to measure their BAC level under California’s implied consent law (California Vehicle Code § 23612). If the driver’s blood alcohol level is within the legal limit, that person can be convicted of DUI under VC Section 23152(a) if the prosecution can prove two things:
- The person operated a motor vehicle; and
- The person’s physical or mental abilities were impaired to the extent they were no longer capable of driving safely.
Both of these elements can be challenged by a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you avoid a conviction that would follow you for many years to come, negatively affecting many aspects of your life.
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b)
This section explicitly prohibits operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher. If you were driving safely and did not violate any traffic rules, the fact that your BAC level is above the legal limit is enough to warrant DUI charges.
- Fact: According to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the 0.08% BAC threshold applies to drivers aged 21 and older. The legal limit of BAC varies based on the driver’s age and other factors: 0.01% for drivers under the age of 21 and those on DUI probation (regardless of age) and 0.04% for drivers transporting passengers for hire and for drivers operating vehicles that require a commercial driver’s license.
The prosecution must prove two elements to convict a person of DUI under VC Section 23152(b):
- The person operated a motor vehicle; and
- The person’s BAC was at 0.08% or higher.
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) makes it “per se” (automatically) unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with an illegal BAC.
What Is Driving Under the Influence?
In California, the legal definition of “driving under the influence” is different depending on whether you are charged under Section 23152(a) or 23152(b). A person can face DUI charges under Section 23152(a) if law enforcement has circumstantial evidence to show that the person’s ability to drive safely was impaired by alcohol. Such evidence may be based on the observations that the person:
- Is driving erratically (e.g., extensive weaving or swerving)
- Smells of alcohol
- Has slurred speech
- Has bloodshot or glassy eyes
- Walks unsteadily
- Cannot keep balance
- Fails a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or field sobriety tests
Police officers look for these and many other symptoms of intoxication during DUI traffic stops. If the officer has reason to suspect you have been drinking, they are likely to ask you to perform field sobriety tests and/or a PAS test to determine your level of impairment.
- Example. You had several alcoholic beverages at a party and then left to drive yourself home. You were pulled over for weaving in and out of lanes and demonstrated signs of intoxication (slurred speech and bloodshot eyes) when interacting with the police officer. Your blood test or breath test following the DUI arrest showed that your BAC level was within the legal limit.
To prove blood alcohol concentration, prosecutions must rely on the results of blood or breath tests following the arrest. A person can face DUI charges under Section 23152(b) if their BAC level is above the legal limit even if there is no circumstantial evidence to prove impairment.
- Example. You had several alcoholic beverages at a party and then left to drive yourself home. You were pulled over at a DUI checkpoint despite the fact that you were driving safely and did not violate any traffic rules. The officer asked you to perform a test to measure your level of impairment and your BAC was above the legal limit.
Even if the person’s abilities to drive safely are impaired pursuant to Section 23152(a) and their BAC is at 0.08% or above in violation of Section 23152(b), the two charges will count as a single DUI conviction: Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)(b).
California Penalties for VC 23152(a) and 23152(b)
In California, the severity of penalties for driving under the influence is directly correlated to the number of prior DUI offenses on the driver’s record and whether there are any aggravating circumstances (e.g., someone suffered injuries or died). In other words, if you are facing DUI charges in California, your penalties will vary depending on how many previous DUI convictions, if any, you have within 10 years:
- First offense. If this is your first time being charged with DUI, the punishment may include up to $1,000 in fines, 48 hours to six months in jail or up to five years of summary probation as an alternative, and a suspension of the driver’s license for six months.
- Second offense. If you have a DUI conviction within the past 10 years, possible DUI penalties may include up to $1,000 in fines, 96 hours to one year in jail or up to five years of summary probation as an alternative, and a suspension of the driver’s license for two years.
- Third offense. If you have two previous DUI convictions and facing your third offense, the punishment may include up to $1,000 in fines, 120 days to one year in jail or up to five years of summary probation as an alternative, and a suspension of the driver’s license for three years.
If you have multiple DUI convictions on your record, you may be declared a habitual traffic offender, which can result in harsher fines and additional jail time. In addition to fines, time in county jail, and license suspension, other possible penalties for DUIs in California include DUI school courses and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), among other administrative penalties. There are also collateral consequences such as increased auto insurance rates, reduced employment prospects and housing options, loss of professional licenses, as well as damaged reputation and personal relationships.
Possible Defenses for Driving Under the Influence
All hope is not lost if you have been charged with DUI. By employing a knowledgeable and effective DUI Defense VC 23152(a)(b), you could still have a chance to walk away acquitted of the charges against you to avoid the serious punishments associated with driving under the influence.
As a DUI defense lawyer at the Law Office of Cherish Om, I do not employ a one-size-fits-all approach to handling DUI cases for my clients. I work tirelessly to develop defense strategies tailored to the specific circumstances and unique facts of every client’s criminal case in order to achieve the best possible outcome. The defenses discussed below are just a few of the strategies that a lawyer can use to fight DUI charges.
Defense #1: You Were Not Driving A Vehicle
If you weren’t driving a car, the prosecution cannot prove that you were under the influence of alcohol while driving it. For example, if you were sleeping in the backseat of your parked car and the police arrived, you might argue that you weren’t driving and therefore should not have been charged with DUI. However, some factors (e.g., having keys in the ignition) may qualify as being “in control of the car” even if you were sleeping and the engine was off. This situation requires legal representation from a skilled lawyer.
Defense #2: Your Driving Was Not Affected by Alcohol
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) requires that you be “under the influence” of alcohol to be charged with DUI regardless of your BAC level. If you or your lawyer can prove that your driving was not impaired and you weren’t under the influence of alcohol while driving, you might be able to avoid DUI charges.
Defense #3: Lack of Reasonable Suspicion / Probable Cause
Police officers need to have a legitimate reason to stop you for DUI, such as weaving across lanes or running a red light. If the police didn’t have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over, you might be able to get your charges dismissed.
Defense #4: The Police Failed to Follow Proper Procedures
If the police didn’t follow proper procedures during your arrest, such as not properly administering a chemical test or not properly recording your arrest, this may become a possible defense strategy to DUI charges.
Defense #5: Unconstitutional Checkpoint
DUI checkpoints must adhere to strict rules in California to be constitutional. If the DUI checkpoint didn’t follow these rules or was otherwise unconstitutional, you might be able to get your charges dropped.
Defense #6: Alternative Explanation for Symptoms Of Intoxication
Sometimes, medical conditions or other factors can cause symptoms that mimic intoxication, such as slurred speech or red eyes. If you can provide an alternative explanation for these symptoms, you might be able to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.
Defense #7: Faulty Testing Procedures
The tests used to determine blood alcohol content are not always accurate. If you can prove that the testing procedures were faulty, you might be able to get your charges dropped or reduced.
Defense #8: Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) Do Not Accurately Measure Alcohol Impairment
FSTs like the walk-and-turn test or the one-leg stand test are notoriously unreliable. Many factors can affect the outcome, and even sober individuals can fail these tests. If you can argue that FSTs aren’t an accurate measure of alcohol impairment in your specific situation, you might be able to avoid a conviction.
DUI Defense VC 23152(a)(b) Frequently Asked Questions
Often, people who face DUI charges do not fully understand what’s going on with the legal process or what comes next after their arrest. This FAQ section below addresses some of the most common questions asked by individuals accused of driving under the influence in California:
- Can I get probation instead of jail?
Yes, probation is often offered as an alternative to jail time for those facing DUI charges in California. However, being on probation is not a walk in the park as individuals on probation must comply with a wide range of strict conditions and adhere to regular check-ins with a probation officer. Failure to comply with those conditions can result in revocation of probation and reinstatement of the original sentence.
- Will I lose my driver’s license?
In most cases, a person convicted of DUI will lose their driver’s license. However, you will not lose your driving privileges forever after the conviction. Depending on the circumstances of the offense and the number of convictions on your record, your driver’s license may be suspected for several months or years. There are also certain situations where your license may be revoked. This may happen if your case involves aggravating circumstances (e.g., someone was injured or died) or you refuse to complete a blood or breath test in violation of California’s implied consent law, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Will my auto insurance rates go up?
Yes, your auto insurance rates are likely to increase significantly after a DUI conviction if your insurance company finds out about it. However, if you were not involved in a car accident under the influence, you may not be required to report your DUI to the insurer. That is why you might want to speak with a lawyer and discuss whether or not you are legally obligated to notify your insurance company of your DUI.
- Are there immigration consequences?
There are additional consequences to consider if you are an immigrant facing DUI charges. DUI convictions carry the risk of deportation and other negative immigration consequences. You might want to discuss your particular case with an experienced DUI lawyer to understand whether or not you have reason to be concerned about your immigration status.
- Can the criminal record be expunged?
Yes, California law may allow you to seek expungement for a misdemeanor DUI if you have successfully completed probation. While expungement refers to the removal of the offense from your criminal record, your expunged DUIs still count as prior defenses for the purposes of determining the appropriate punishment.
- How does a DUI affect professional licenses?
Your professional license may be in jeopardy if you are facing DUI charges. If convicted of DUI, you may be legally obligated to report your conviction to a licensing board, which can result in a professional license suspension or revocation. This can disrupt your career and impact your ability to earn a living and provide for your family.
The Law Office of Cherish Om: Trusted DUI Defense Lawyer in Watsonville, California
If you have been accused of driving under the influence, do not hesitate to seek skilled and reliable DUI Defense VC 23152(a)(b) representation at the Law Office of Cherish Om. As an experienced California DUI attorney, I have the expertise to vigorously defend you, your reputation, your freedom, and your future. My office is open and available to take your call from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer your questions and address your concerns. Ready to get started? Get in touch today to arrange a meeting and discuss your case personally.