In California there are two separate and distinct ways to convict a person for driving under the influence of alcohol. One event can give rise to two violations, but will result in one punishment. So, what are those two situations? How are they different?
California law simply states that one who is under the influence of alcohol is not allowed to drive a vehicle. It is proven by showing the person violated driving laws, exhibited signs of intoxication, and was deemed too impaired to drive a vehicle as safely as a person who was not impaired.
The police officer may include in his report the driver veered or committed other traffic violations, and upon further inspection, the driver’s breath emitted odor of alcoholic beverage, eyes were red watery and bloodshot, speech was slurred and slow, the driver performed poorly on the field sobriety tests, had balance issues, unsteady gait, poor timing, presence of nystagmus, etc.
At some point the officer deems the driver to be under the influence of alcohol and concludes that the driver is too impaired to safely drive the vehicle. The driver is then placed under formal arrest and transported to the police station, hospital, or some other area to submit to a "chemical test."
To show a driver violated this law, the government has to prove that at the time of driving the person’s BAC was .08 or higher. This charge is concerned with the alcohol level of one’s blood, and it does not delve into the nature of driving or the level of impairment.
One’s BAC can be measured through his or her breath by way of a breathalyzer, or it can be determined or tested through their blood. At times the less reliable urine sample may be the only option. After testing one’s breath or blood (or urine), if one’s BAC is .08 or higher, that driver can be charged with violating this section.
Even if you are charged with both of these vehicle code violations, there are numerous defenses that may be applicable to each section. A methodical and thorough review of every aspect of the case can bring to light the various potentially applicable defenses. An excellent DUI attorney will intently search for, discover, develop, and present applicable defenses to driving under the influence.
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