Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a severe offense in California. CA Vehicle Code §23152 (a) describes the conditions when a person can be charged with a DUI under California law. The penalties could be tough if you have been arrested and face DUI charges.
You must take steps to retain a powerful legal defender who can help you clear your name of the charges against you. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer could help you protect your future and return to your life.
CA Vehicle Code §23152(a) “Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol”
The CA Vehicle Code §23152(a) prohibits individuals from driving under the influence of alcohol. However, it is essential to note that displaying signs of intoxication could result in a DUI charge even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels measure below the legal limit of .08%.
If your BAC test results return at a rate of .08% or higher, not only will you be charged with driving under the influence under Vehicle Code §23152(a), but you can also face driving with excessive BAC charges under Vehicle Code §23152(b).
For the prosecuting attorney to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, they will need to show that you were responsible for driving the motor vehicle in question and that you were under the influence of alcohol at the time you were driving.
Circumstantial Evidence Used in VC §23152(a) Cases
There is often circumstantial evidence authorities can use to show that you were under the influence of alcohol at the time of your stop. Some examples of such evidence could include police testimony that you:
- Were slurring your speech
- Were driving erratically
- Had bloodshot eyes
- Were walking with an uneven gate
- Smelled like alcohol
- Admitted to drinking
- Failed your preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or field sobriety test
Can You Challenge VC §23152(a) Charges?
If you have been charged with drunk driving under CA Vehicle Code §23152(a), several potential defenses could be available to you. First, you may want to consider working with the state’s prosecuting attorney to obtain a plea agreement or enter into a pretrial diversion program.
The state may be willing to reduce or dismiss the charges against you once you complete the terms of the plea bargain or pretrial diversion program. However, if your attorney believes it is in your best interests to present a compelling defense strategy, multiple approaches could apply to your case. These could include:
- The field sobriety test was inaccurate.
- You were not intoxicated at the time of the stop.
- You’re driving was not impaired at the time of the stop.
- A medical condition caused you to drive erratically or have BAC levels above the legal limit of .08%.
- The police failed in their duties by:
- Committing misconduct
- Lacking probable cause
- Stopping you improperly
- Failing to follow proper procedures and protocols
- Failing to administer chemical blood alcohol tests accurately
- Violating your constitutional rights
After closely analyzing the evidence in your case, your criminal record, aggravating and mitigating factors, and the penalties you are facing, your attorney will give you a better idea of how to best approach your defense.
Pretrial Diversion Programs Could Be a Better Option
Instead of preparing to bring your case to trial, your Los Angeles DUI lawyer might suggest working with the district attorney to get you into a pretrial diversion program. This is often an attractive option for people who have never been charged with a DUI. However, you may only be eligible as a first-time offender if no one was injured due to the offense.
With pretrial diversion programs, specific criteria need to be met. If you fail to meet the terms of your program, you can expect the prosecutor to move forward with the charges against you. Some of the requirements you may need to follow include the following:
- Attending group therapy
- Attending mental health counseling
- Completing DUI school
- Completing community service hours
- Completing a drug or alcohol rehab program
- Paying restitution to victims
- Covering court costs
- Paying signs
- Undergoing random drug or alcohol testing
- Obtaining gainful employment
- Completing a MADD VIP program
- Completing a HAM program
If you are interested in finding out whether you could get your DUI charges reduced to a lesser offense, such as a wet reckless, be sure to discuss this option with your criminal defense lawyer.
What Are the Consequences of a DUI Conviction in CA Under VC §23152(a)?
If you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol under CA Vehicle Code §23152(a), the consequences you will face could have a debilitating impact on your life. Even as a first-time offender, you could be looking at the following penalties:
- Up to six months in jail
- A maximum of five years of summary probation
- Up to 90 hours of DUI school
- Attendance at a Victim Impact Panel
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- A mandatory minimum six-month suspension of your driver’s license
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
The amount of time you will need to spend in jail, on probation, and attending DUI school will increase with the number of DUI convictions you have. The size of the fines you must pay will also increase.
For example, if this is your third DUI, you could expect to have your license suspended for up to three years, spend a minimum of one year in county jail, and have an ignition interlock device installed for up to two years.
You could also expect harsher penalties if there are aggravating factors present. For example, if you were found to have BAC levels of .15% or higher, or if you violated VC §23582 by speeding, you could expect more jail or prison time, higher fines, and more severe consequences in general.
How Will Your Life Be Impacted by a DUI Conviction?
The criminal consequences of a DUI conviction could have a severe impact on your life right now. There are also many ways your future could be affected if you are convicted of a DUI in California. Some of the more common types of collateral consequences you are facing include:
- Citizenship and immigration troubles
- Being passed over for job opportunities and career advancement
- Been disqualified from Federal student aid eligibility
- Being denied housing
- Suspension or revocation of your professional licenses
- Difficulty maintaining relationships with family and friends
- A destroyed professional reputation
- Visitation and child custody issues
Can a Conviction Under VC §23152(a) Be Expunged?
Once you have completed the terms of your DUI sentencing, you may be eligible for expungement of your conviction. However, you will need to meet particular requirements. You can review your eligibility status and criteria when discussing your conviction with your DUI attorney in Los Angeles.
Contact a DUI Attorney in Los Angeles for Help Today
If you have been charged with drunk driving under CA Vehicle Code §23152(a), you must take steps to protect your future. Defend your freedoms by contacting a Los Angeles DUI lawyer to discuss your legal defense strategies.
Schedule a confidential consultation today to learn more about how to avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction. Please fill out our online contact form or call us to get started on your defense as soon as today.