The DUI Law: Vehicle Code

VC 23152 Alcohol and/or Drugs

The Vehicle Code book codified in 1935 states the
following under its Drinking and Alcohol section.This section (23152) is
the misdemeanor violation.

The difference between a misdeamnor and a felony is: misdemeanor
driving under the influence charges means that the charge involved no
injury or property damage and the penalty is up to 6 months in jail
whereas a felony has injury and the penalty could be as much as up to one
year in a state prison.

VC 23152: Alcohol and or drugs: (a). It is unlawful for any person who
is under the influence of an intoxicating beverage,or under the combined
influence of an alcoholic beverage or drug to drive a vehicle.


The problem immediately is what does “under the influence” mean?

The most common understanding of the term is when the person starts to
stumble and fall, lose coordination, have slower reaction times, lose the
ability to process information, experience visual impairments or go
through personality changes.

Standard Dictionary Definition.

Webster defines intoxicated as being ‘elated’, hardly a legal

A legal definition, from 1970 states under the influence as:

person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor when as a result
of drinking such liquor his physical and mental abilities are impaired so
that he no longer has the ability to drive a vehicle with the caution
characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or
similar circumstances.

The second part of the vehicle code DUI law continues to state in
addition to the above “under the influence” paragraph, a driver is also
under the influence when:
Paragraph (b) of VC23152 states:

VC 23152: Alcohol and or drugs: (b) It is unlawful for any person who
has a .08 percent or more by weight to drive a vehicle.

This more exacting definition of what under the influence is was put
in the vehicle code in 1982 and is considered “per se”. When you are
arrested for DUI and you must submit to a chemical test, the results of
that test can be used as evidence in court. this is called presumptive or
prima facie evidence. Technically, prima facie means “at first view.”
Legally, it means “adequate to establish the fact unless refuted” (proved

Illegal “per se” law means that no evidence other than the results of
a properly obtained chemical test are required to convict the defendant.
In other words, if your chemical test results are a .08 (and all else was
legal i.e. stop, arrests etc.) your considered under the influence
according to California law.

Legal presumptions about levels of alcohol in the blood are stated in
presumptions about under the influence are stated in another law VC

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