You recently attended a friend’s birthday party and had a few drinks. You made certain to control your alcohol intake in order to remain under the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers. Just before arriving home, you were stopped by a police officer and asked to perform a breathalyzer test. You were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) after blowing a .05%.
The legal limit for BAC in California is .08%. So, why were you charged with DUI if you had a BAC level of .05%? Can you be charged with a DUI even though your BAC was under the legal driving limit?
Understanding California DUI laws (VC 23152(a), VC 23152(b))
VC 23152(a) states that “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”
Under VC 23152(b), “It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.”
In California, you may be charged with a DUI under VC 23152(a), VC 23152(b), or both code sections. In the scenario above, you were charged with a DUI under VC 23152(a) since VC 23152(b) does not apply to you as a result of your BAC being below the legal limit.
You are considered to be “under the influence” if the prosecutor can show the following two elements:
- Your driving abilities were impaired due to consumption of an alcoholic beverage, drug, or combination of both; AND
- As a result of this impairment, you were unable to exercise the ordinary care of a reasonable, sober driver in a similar circumstance.
In the scenario above, you may be charged with a DUI even though you blew a BAC on the Breathalyzer test under the legal driving limit. If your driving ability was sufficiently impaired by alcoholic beverages and you were unable to exercise ordinary care, you may have been “under the influence” of alcohol even though your BAC was under the legal driving limit.
Other Factors Police Officers Look for in Ventura DUI Cases
If the police officer believed that you were under the influence of alcohol, he or she may have had probable cause to arrest you on suspicion of a DUI. However, it is important to remember that your driving ability is only one factor to be considered when determining whether you were under the influence of alcohol.
Other circumstances to be considered when determining whether you were under the influence of alcohol may include the following:
- Bloodshot eyes;
- Performance on field sobriety tests;
- Slurred speech; OR
- Smell of alcohol on your breath.
Call the Ventura DUI Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you are facing DUI charges in Ventura, you need to speak to an experienced Ventura DUI defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled DUI lawyers have been successfully defending our clients accused of DUI in Ventura for over 30 years. We may be able to attack the observations of the police officer or the results of your BAC test. We’ve helped thousands of people accused of DUI in California, and we can help you now.
Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks. There is a skilled and knowledgeable Wallin & Klarich DUI attorney available nearby no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.