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What is a DUI? Fundamentals of Driving Under the Influence in California 101

April 15, 2022

A person driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs DUI

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases are hated by judges and prosecutors because it is seen as a significant threat to the public. A traffic stop for a minor traffic offense is the starting point for many DUI convictions. A slight scent of alcohol, swollen eyes, and a few garbled words are all it takes to transform a traffic infraction into a drunk-driving arrest. The ramifications can be life-altering.

Whether you are charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, or Driving Under the Influence of a Combination of Alcohol and Drugs, you need to hire our Southern California DUI lawyers at ALL Trial Lawyers to assist you to develop your defense.


California DUI Laws

In California, when you are charged with a DUI, the District attorney charges you with two separate counts:

VC 23152(a) – Driving under the influence of alcohol.

VC 23152(b) – Driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content above a .08.


The California Vehicle Code section 23152(a) states that driving a vehicle while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage is illegal. The law implies that even if there is no evidence that your blood alcohol content is higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent, you can be prosecuted with this DUI section if you show signs of being under the influence while operating a motor vehicle. Prosecutors will charge you with two counts if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08 percent or greater on a breath test or blood test.

Depending on the type of drugs, the prosecution will look to the quantity found in the blood and use their expert to determine whether a person can be under the influence with the amount of drugs in the person’s system.

Even if both charges are upheld, the two offenses will be combined into a single DUI conviction. The consequences of a DUI are severe.


What Does a Prosecutor Have to Prove at Trial?

According to CALCRIM No. 2110, a prosecutor must be able to show the following aspects to prove that the defendant has committed the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol:

  1. The defendant drove the vehicle; AND
  2. When they drove, the defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, drugs, or a combination of both.

By law, a person is under the influence if, as a result of consuming an alcoholic beverage or taking drugs, their mental or physical abilities are so impaired that they are no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. However, how a person drives is not enough by itself to establish whether the person is or is not under the influence. It is, however, a factor to be considered by the jury considering all the surrounding circumstances.


Stopping an Intoxicated Driver

A law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop a car if they believe the driver is breaking the law or committing a crime. Usually, a separate infraction or misdemeanors under the California Vehicle Code, such as speeding, lane changes that are hazardous or incorrect, expired tags, broken taillights, or even equipment violations such as illegal modifications, leads to a DUI stop.

When officers pull over a car, they usually look for signs of intoxication in the driver. The officer may also request that the driver do several field sobriety tests to assess if the motorist is under the influence, based on their observations of the driver. If the police have reasonable suspicion that the motorist is under the influence of alcohol, they will either request a breath sample on a PAS device or arrest the driver on suspicion of DUI.

If the driver is arrested, they will be subjected to chemical testing and asked to produce a breath or blood sample. If you do not consent to a blood test, the police officers will need a warrant to retrieve a blood sample. The blood test results tend to be the most accurate indicator of what a person’s BAC was at the time of the blood draw. If the driver refuses to conduct these tests, they may face additional jail time and have their license suspended or revoked.

Contact our California DUI Attorney

Only experienced DUI attorneys will be able to use the law to fight your case. It is vital to hire an experienced attorney due to the complex and challenging nature of DUI charges. Your ability to argue against the admission of evidence and the credibility of evidence presented by the prosecution significantly impact the result of your case.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in court, you need the criminal defense lawyers at ALL Trial Lawyers by your side. The attorneys at ALL Trial Lawyers are trial attorneys with years of experience. They know the law, and they’re not afraid to take your case to trial.

In addition, they have a strong reputation among judges and prosecutors throughout Southern California, which has delivered tremendous victories for their clients. Our ultimate goal is to provide the best results that can be achieved in your case— whether that be a way of outright dismissal, a favorable plea bargain deal, or an acquittal of the charges at trial. With ALL Trial Lawyers by your side, you can rest assured that the criminal team will be giving you their all.


Call now for your free consultation. Call us at (866) 811-4255.


There is no case too big or too small. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys have litigated cases throughout Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Riverside.

We’ve handled cases involving criminal charges of all severities, including but not limited to driving under the influence (DUI), burglary, robbery, homicide, sexual assault, drug sales, drug possession, felony, and misdemeanor vandalism, petty theft, grand theft, vehicle or auto theft, domestic violence battery, assault and battery, assault causing great bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, white-collar crimes, juvenile defense and more.

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