Can You Get a DUI If Your BAC is Below the Legal Limit?
Do you have to have a certain amount of alcohol in your body to be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in California? Contrary to popular belief, the answer is no. There are actually two ways you can get a DUI. The first is when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit. For adults, the legal limit is .08 percent. The second is when police have reason to believe that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
DUI For Being Under the Influence
California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) states that it is a crime to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage. As a result, you can get a DUI for driving even if your BAC is not above the legal limit. Instead, you must simply demonstrate to police that you:
- Drove a motor vehicle
- While “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol.
Driving a Motor Vehicle
You can only be convicted of DUI under 23152(a) if you were driving a motor vehicle. Under California law, this means that there must be some movement of a vehicle. What happens if police do not specifically see you driving a car? If there is circumstantial evidence to support the fact that you had been driving the car, it may be sufficient to warrant a DUI.
For example, let’s say an officer found you asleep behind the wheel of your car. At the time he found you, you weren’t driving. However, the car was parked in an unusual location that impeded traffic, and the hood was warm. Both of these factors could lead an officer to believe that you had recently driven the car. If you also display signs of being intoxicated, you could be arrested for DUI.
Under the Influence
What exactly does it mean to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage? Are you considered under the influence after one sip? One drink? Three drinks? The answer will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. However, California law does provide some guidance.
A person will be considered “under the influence” when:
- After consuming alcohol
- His or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired
- That he or she is no longer able to drive the vehicle with the caution of a sober person using ordinary care.
Whether or not you are under the influence of alcohol is a subjective question of fact. The answer will depend on a thorough evaluation and analysis of the details of your case.
Factors that may indicate you are under the influence include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Inability to keep your eyes open
- Odor of alcohol
- Alcohol containers visible in the car
- Failure of field sobriety tests, and
- Elevated BAC.
Once an officer makes an arrest for DUI under 23152(a) VC, the state will have the burden of proving that you are guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
How Can I Defend Myself Against a DUI in Los Angeles?
Just because you have been accused of driving under the influence does not mean that you will be convicted. Hiring an attorney to lead your defense will increase the chances of securing a positive outcome. There are two primary ways to defend yourself against DUI charges:
- Present evidence to contradict the allegations, and
- Attack the validity of any evidence the state presents.
Combined, these approaches can make it difficult for the state to satisfy its burden of proof. This can increase the chances of getting a plea agreement or having the charges dropped.
DUI Penalties in California
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious crime in Los Angeles. If the state is able to prove that you are guilty of the crime, you can be convicted and receive a harsh criminal sentence.
Consequences of DUI include:
- Jail time
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Community service
- Probation, and
- DUI school.
The penalties become more severe with each additional DUI conviction. Multiple DUIs or those causing bodily harm can result in Felony DUI charges.
Fight DUI Charges in Los Angeles
Have you been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles? Call The Rodriguez Law Group to request a free consultation. Our experienced Los Angeles DUI attorneys can help you minimize the consequences of your arrest. We understand that your future is in jeopardy and will fight to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Call today to learn more.