Driving while Under the Influence

Driving while under the influence continues to be a problem, which is addressed by public safety. Every year thousands of people die at the hands of drunk drivers despite add campaigns and other forms of public awareness. In this article, I will discuss driving while under the influence and answer common questions regarding this topic.

One of the more frequently used laws associated with driving while under the influence amounts to a Misdemeanor. Section 23152(a) of the California Vehicle Code states it is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or drug. This particular section also makes it unlawful for any person to drive under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol. This is particularly important to those who regularly take prescription medications, which can cause the driver to become impaired. There are certainly several medications that fall into that category; therefore, it is best to consult your doctor before consuming medication and operating a motor vehicle.

In several States there is a standard blood alcohol level where a driver is presumed to be "under the influence." In California the standard blood alcohol content level is 0.08%; therefore, if the driver of a motor vehicle is driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher they are presumed to be under the influence. If a driver is subsequently arrested for this violation their driver's license is confiscated and they are issued a temporary drivers license, which is called an Admin Per Se. This temporary license is valid for 30-days after the arrest; at which point, the driver's license will be suspended pending reinstatement by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Admin Per Se forms are also used in situations where an arrest has not taken place. For instance, if a driver under the age of 21 is stopped and found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.01% or higher their license can be confiscated and suspended pending a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Although most of the laws relating to driving while under the influence are Misdemeanors, there are some more serious, Felonious, crimes associated with DUI investigations. For example, if a motorist has three convictions for driving while under the influence in a 10-year period the fourth subsequent convictions can also be charged as felony. Or, if the driver of a motor vehicle is found to be under the influence at the time of a collision where another person is injured; that driver can be charged with a Felony.

Can an officer arrest me for DUI if he/she didn't see me driving? The answer is, "Yes." Often times, officers are dispatched to traffic collisions where a suspected drunk driver is standing outside of their vehicle and was not observed driving by an officer. Section 40300.5 of the California Vehicle Code addresses a variety of situations where an officer can arrest a person, without a warrant when they are suspected of driving while under the influence. This is a very unique statutory law as officers generally cannot arrest for Misdemeanors that are not committed in their presence. One of the other few exceptions would be incidents involving domestic violence.

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