One drink won’t put you over the legal alcohol limit, but it doesn’t
have to in order for California law enforcement officers to arrest you
for driving under the influence. One drink or many drinks, if officers
believe you are driving under the influence, you may find yourself behind
bars. In fact, in California, any substance that impairs your driving
is cause for arrest.
Substances the May Impair Driving
• Illegal drugs
• Prescription drugs
• Over-the-counter medicines
What Does the Law State?
Most people know the legal blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is .08%
for drivers over the age of 21. What most people don’t know is that
the law has a loophole, which gives officers the right to arrest you with
a lower BAC.
VC Section 23152(b) of the law clearly states the .08% legal limit, but
back up a couple of lines to section (a) of the same law. It states that
it’s illegal for someone under the influence of alcohol to drive,
but it does not list a specific percentage or limit for what determines
“under the influence.” What that means for you is that officers
who suspect you are driving impaired are within their legal rights to
Determining Under the Influence
DUI checkpoints are one way officers find impaired drivers. Another way
is to observe erratic driving. Once a driver is stopped, officers consider
several factors to determine if a person is impaired and if they should
• Slurred speech
• Stumbling while walking
• Combative behavior
• Problems with their motor skills
• Unable to understand directions
• Field sobriety tests such as a breathalyzer
Proving the Case against You
Prosecutors have an easier time proving cases where the driver has a BAC
over the legal limit. Cases where the BAC is lower, prosecution lawyers
rely on whatever field sobriety testing methods were used and the arresting
officer’s testimony. While prosecutors don’t go after every
case, they often pursue drivers with a BAC above .05%. In cases where
the defendant has a lower BAC, the district attorney has to prove that
whatever substance was in your system had a strong enough impact on you
that it negatively affected your ability to drive.
Mounting a Defense
Arrested for driving under the influence, your first inclination is to
panic and worry, but don’t. Reacting to the situation won’t
help. Being proactive, and hiring a great criminal defense lawyer could
get you out of a potentially bad situation. Ideally, your attorney gets
the charges dropped or reduced to a lesser charge, such as a wet reckless.
A wet reckless charge means you were involved in an alcohol-related driving
offense. Unlike a standard driving under the influence conviction, with
a wet reckless, the fines are lower, probation time is shorter, and jail
time, if any, is shorter. Plus, your license is not suspended.
The key to resolving any driving under the influence charge is to have
a strong lawyer on your side. Attorney Scott D. Henry of Riverside, San
Bernardino and Orange County’s leading DUI defense law firm will
fight the charges on your behalf. Having worked numerous criminal defense
and DUI cases, he has the experience and legal knowledge to win your case
as he has done for so many other clients. Call our offices at (888) 444-7210
and ask how we can help you.