Intoxication as Defined in DUI Law

Intoxication is defined as having your physical or mental abilities so impaired that you can no longer drive as cautiously as a sober person.

In California there are two ways to be found guilty of a DUI. One is by a chemical test that proves you have more than .08% blood alcohol concentration, or that you have drugs in your system. This is what most of us think of as the definition of DUI. But what if there is no chemical test, or the judge decides it’s not accurate enough? You could still be found guilty, if the prosecution can prove that you were “under the influence.” This is commonly called being intoxicated or impaired.

Unfortunately, whether someone counts as intoxicated or not is an open question. If there’s no test showing how much alcohol was in a person’s system, how can you really know? Did their hand shake because they were drunk, or because they were nervous? Did they swerve in their lane because of drugs, of because of a momentary distraction?

That’s why the courts in California use an agreed-upon definition of intoxication. According to the law, you are intoxicated if:

“Your mental and/or physical faculties are impaired to such a degree that you no longer have the ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person.”

This definition isn’t perfect. It still leaves a lot of room for subjective judgment calls. To determine if someone was intoxicated, the courts use context like your behavior, whether you had a good sense of balance, bloodshot eyes, and so forth. This system isn’t always accurate or fair. But, it does leave room for you to defend yourself. In fact, a good DUI defense lawyer can often show the court alternative reasons for seemingly “intoxicated” behavior. In many cases they can get you acquitted.

Have you been charged with DUI? 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 (310) 896-2724 and get your free consultation today.

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