DUI is an acronym that stands for Driving Under the Influence. It is the crime of driving under the influence of a substance that impairs your driving. Most commonly, the substance is alcohol.
Two Main Forms of DUI in California
In California, there is not one law but several that cover DUI in different forms. Because of this, there are multiple definitions of what counts as DUI. The most basic are:
- You were driving a vehicle and you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher
- You were driving a vehicle while impaired by a substance
These definitions create two different ways you can be “guilty” of DUI: because your BAC was too high or because you showed signs of being intoxicated/impaired. Either is enough to convict you.
How Is BAC Measured?
The two major ways to measure BAC are through the breath and through blood. Of these, blood is more accurate. Both methods have their flaws and can be fought against by an experienced DUI attorney.
If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you are assumed to be intoxicated, even if you haven’t driven dangerously. You will be charged with driving under the influence and will have to fight the charges to avoid a conviction.
What Does “Impaired by a Substance” Mean?
To be impaired by a substance means that the influence of a chemical affects your driving negatively. Drivers under the influence of any drug, legal or illegal, can also be convicted of a drug DUI. For substances other than alcohol, any detectable amount is usually enough to bring a charge of DUI.
This also means that even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still get charged with DUI if you drive in an impaired manner. If an officer thinks you’re driving unsafely and you’ve been drinking, you could get hit with a DUI charge.
I Have a Prescription. How Can I Be Charged With DUI?
Even if your medication is legally prescribed, you may not be allowed to drive legally while taking it. Drugs that impair driving have warnings not to drive or “operate heavy machinery” while taking it. If you know about these warnings, take the medication, and drive anyway, you can be charged.
One possible defense is if you’ve never taken the drug before and didn’t know how bad it would affect you. Your DUI lawyer will discuss this defense with you if it seems viable.
Other DUI Charges in California
The definitions above are general ones. It doesn’t cover every circumstance. There are other ways to be convicted of driving under the influence in California:
- Drivers under the age of 21 face stricter standards for what counts as DUI
- Drivers with a commercial driver’s license face stricter standards, even when not in their commercial vehicle
- Individuals who are currently on probation for a previous DUI also face higher standards
Seek Help Immediately After Your Arrest
Now that you know what DUI is, have you been charged with driving under the influence? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us to get your free consultation today.