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 arrest you.
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 be arrested.
• 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.