The California Penal Code is set of laws that define many crimes and their punishments, including some crimes related to DUI.
The California Penal Code is one of the state’s four original statute books. It was made in the late 1800’s in an attempt to codify all of the various punishments and procedures used by the criminal justice system. It is a vast set of rules and it addresses most crimes that can possibly be committed in the state of California—but it does not directly address DUI. The reason for this is that the Penal Code was created before motor vehicles existed. By the time California began to regulate drivers, there were so many new rules that they were given their own separate law book, the Vehicle Code.
Nonetheless, there are several laws in the Penal Code that affect DUI cases. The most important of these are:
- Child endangerment. DUI suspects are often charged with this law if they had a child in the car at the time of their alleged drunk driving.
- In rare cases, an alleged drunk driver will be charged with murder if they caused an accident that killed someone.
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. If someone was killed in an alleged DUI, it is much more common for them to be charged under this law. It is less serious than murder (but still carries very severe consequences).
The Penal Code also governs how jails and prisons are run, how the criminal courts run, and the rights of victims and witnesses. But the most important regulations relating to DUI are found in the California Vehicle Code.
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