Drunk Driving in California – 5 Attorney Tips to Keep the Cops Away

drunk driving“Drunk driving” is a phrase used to describe the criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). In California, a DUI offense has it’s grounds in California Vehicle Code (VC) 23152.

As a California DUI attorney, I’ve heard countless stories, facts, excuses, and explanations related to DUI charges, so I’ve put together the following tips to help you drive safely without the risk of getting stopped by law enforcement for drunk driving.

#1 Drunk Driving Includes More than Just Alcohol

Although drunk driving – that is, being under the influence of alcohol while driving or having a blood alcohol content level of .08 or greater while driving – is unlawful, you can also be guilty of DUI for being under the influence of any drug, or for being under the influence of any combination of alcohol and drugs.

#2 A Blood Alcohol Content Level of .08 May Not Seal Your Fate

Many people mistakenly believe that the only way to be guilty of drunk driving is under the strict liability section of VC 23152(b) (to drive with a BAC of .08).

However, the reality is if you have any amount of alcohol in your system and are driving below the standard of a reasonably prudent person then you are also guilty of drunk driving (this is what VC 23152(a) means when it says “under the influence” of alcohol).

Also, if you are a commercial driver or Uber driver (or other driver carrying a “passenger for hire”), your strict liability standard is not .08! For commercial drivers and those carrying passengers for hire, your strict liability standard is .04, under VC 23152(d) and VC 23152(e).

#3 Explaining the Slogan “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving”

The “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” campaign advanced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to remind drivers that terms such as “buzzed driving” and “drunk driving” are subjective in nature, meaning your estimation you are “buzzed” rather than “drunk” is potentially a result of impaired judgment caused by alcohol.

It is safest to have a designated driver who has consumed no alcohol or to use Uber or Lyft to get home, rather than risk getting arrested for drunk driving after you’ve had a couple of drinks.

#4 Know Your Body’s Limit

Many factors affect your Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) level (BAC is measured by grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 200 milliliters of breath). These factors include your height, weight, and amount of food you’ve consumed. Some people, regardless of size are considered “lightweights” meaning alcohol typically has a strong affect over them, even in small amounts, due to the unique way their body processes alcohol.

If you drive to an event and plan on having a drink, do  yourself and everybody else a favor and just Uber home. Be aware of the amount of alcohol you’re consuming, and over what period of time. You can view an approximation of what your BAC would be based on your sex and weight on this BAC Chart.

#5 Drunk Driving Arrest Does Not Mean DUI Guilt

If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, this rule doesn’t really keep the cops away but is worth mentioning for your peace of mind.

If justice goes well, we are innocent until proven guilty. As a criminal defendant in California you are afforded certain rights under California and U.S. law, such as the right against self incrimination, against unlawful search and seizure, and the right to be represented by an attorney.

To be guilty of drunk driving in California, certain legal requirements must be met and must be proven with facts showing you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – this is a very high legal standard. In other words, if you are going to be found guilty by a jury of your peers they better be pretty damn sure you did it!


If you’ve been charged with DUI and aren’t sure what to do next, we offer a free consultation. Just click below.


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