A Tale of Two DUI Laws

Take a look at these basic DUI laws for California.

It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle (Sec. 23152-a).

  • It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle (Sec. 23152-b).

This setup implies that you can be arrested even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) isn’t 0.08, which is usually the case. However, lawyers say these two laws can be confusing. If you can be arrested after being caught and have been determined you’ve just had a beer, why implement a BAC limit of 0.08? It doesn’t matter because Sec. 23152-a already has that covered, seemingly making California a “zero-tolerance” state.

However, the difference goes deeper.

A person can be charged with 23152-a and 23152-b if his BAC is 0.08 and above and is shown to be under the influence.

  • A person can only be charged with 23152-b if his BAC is 0.08 and above, but isn’t proven to be under the influence. This is the case for offenders with a high tolerance for alcohol.
  • A person can only be charged with 23152-b if his BAC is below 0.08 but is shown to be under the influence.

 

Therefore, the separation of these laws is important for fairness.

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