San Diego DUI Defense – VC 23152(a)(b)

Mistakes happen, however if you’re pulled over for drinking and driving, more than just your license is at stake; you could also face jail time. In California, a DUI can lead to serious penalties that impact your life and freedom.

Elite Criminal Defense is here to help. We can help you build a strong defense strategy to fight the DUI charge you’re dealing with. Don’t wait to reach out — acting quickly to gather evidence can make a big difference in your case.

Ready to take action? Contact our team for help fighting your charge and potentially reducing the penalties you may face.

Driving Under the Influence – California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) and 23152(b)

According to California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) and 23152(b), you may face criminal charges if found under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug when driving a vehicle.

Section 23152(b) of this code defines exactly how intoxicated a person can be before they are not allowed to drive. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is more than 0.08 percent, you may face legal penalties if you are pulled over and tested by a police officer.

But it’s important to remember that you may be charged with DUI even if you’re not over the legal limit. If you are too intoxicated to drive safely, according to the arresting officer, you can be charged with DUI.

What Is Driving Under the Influence?

The term driving under the influence refers to the act of driving while experiencing the intoxicating effects of alcohol or drugs. When the alcohol or drugs in your system impact your driving ability, California law states that you should not be on the road. 

More specifically, ​​Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) makes it illegal to drive while experiencing the effects of drugs or alcohol. And Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) makes it illegal to drive with a BAD of 0.08 percent or greater.


Examples of Driving Under the Influence

Below are a few examples of driving under the influence in California:

  • You had a few too many drinks at a party and left as the alcohol was hitting your system. You were pulled over for weaving in and out of lanes and had a BAC of 0.10 percent.
  • You are on a new medication, and that medication has had a severe impact on your ability to drive. A police officer catches you running on and off the road and pulls you over.
  • You took a stimulant or depressant, which is affecting your system, making driving difficult. You are pulled over and charged with DUI.

California Penalties for VC 23152(a) and 23152(b)


If you are facing a DUI, your penalties may vary depending on the number of prior offenses on your record. 

First Offense

You may face a misdemeanor charge if this is your first time charged with a DUI. These charges may come with the following penalties:

  • 96 hours to six months in county jail
  • Fines of up to $2,000
  • Up to five years of summary probation
  • License suspension for six months

Second Offense

If you already have a DUI on your record within the past 10 years, avoiding the penalties and protecting your license can be harder. Below are the penalties you may face for a second DUI conviction in California:

  • 96 hours to 364 days in county jail
  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Up to five years of summary probation
  • License suspension for two years

Third Offense

Multiple DUI convictions on your record can lead to harsher penalties, especially if you have been labeled a habitual traffic offender.

You may face the following penalties for a third DUI conviction in the past 10 years:

  • 120 to 364 days in county jail
  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • Five years of summary probation
  • Habitual traffic offender designation
  • License suspension for three years

Fourth and Subsequent Offenses

For fourth DUI convictions (and more) in the past decade, you may face the following penalties under California law:

  • Five years of summary probation
  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • 180 to 364 days in county jail
  • Habitual traffic offender designation
  • License suspension for four years

What Are the Defenses for Driving Under The Influence?

Once you know the penalties you may face for a DUI, it is important to focus on how to avoid them. The specifics of your case often define these defenses.

However, there are some common defenses that often apply to DUI cases in California. While each case warrants a uniquely tailored defense, the basic DUI defenses below may serve as a starting point to crafting your own defense.

Your Driving Was Not Affected by Alcohol

While you may have failed a field sobriety test, you may argue that your driving was not significantly impacted by alcohol or drugs.

That could mean that you didn’t have alcohol or drugs in your system. Or it could mean that something else — other than alcohol or drugs in your system — was what affected your driving.

For example, perhaps you did have a beer or two before driving home from the bar. But you weren’t swerving due to intoxication — you were swerving to avoid another vehicle that was coming into your lane.

Your attorney can help you determine how to go about proving such a defense if it applies to your case.

Field Sobriety Tests Are Poor Tools to Measure Alcohol Impairment

Like humans, all tools are fallible. Field sobriety tests, from reciting the alphabet backward to Breathalyzer tests, must be calibrated, and the people using them must be trained properly.

Your attorney may question whether the tools used to test your sobriety were working properly, properly inspected, or operated by people who have been properly trained.

If it turns out that there was some issue with the tools used in your field sobriety test, the results of the test may no longer apply to your case in the same way, severely weakening the case against you.

The Police Failed to Follow Proper Procedures

The police can’t just do whatever they want. They have to follow extremely specific protocols when investigating a possible crime, questioning you, searching you or your vehicle, arresting you, and handling the evidence against you.

And any misstep in these protocols may be cause to question the entire case against you.

DUI lawyers are trained to identify these missteps and use them to fight DUI charges. Speak with a seasoned attorney about whether this defense might apply to your case.

Seek a DUI Defense Attorney 

Being charged with driving under the influence in California can seriously affect your life. Losing your driving privileges makes it hard to work, attend school, or even handle daily tasks. And you might even face time behind bars and severe fines, among other legal penalties.

But you don’t have to just accept the charges and your fate; you can fight to keep your license, stay out of jail, and avoid high fines..

At Elite Criminal Defense, we know how challenging it is to build a strong DUI defense under VC 23152(a)(b). That’s why our trusted DUI attorneys are ready to help you fight your charges.

When you’re ready to talk about your defense plan, contact us for a consultation. You can reach us at 619-642-2310 or fill out our online contact form.

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DUI Defense FAQ


The days, weeks, and months after you get a DUI in California can be confusing. The team at Elite Criminal Defense understands that you’re probably filled with questions and extremely concerned about your future.

We’re here to help. You can always give us a call to schedule a consultation to discuss your case, but in the meantime, check out the answers to some frequently asked questions about DUI charges below.

Can I get probation instead of jail?

Probation is sometimes offered to those who may otherwise face some time behind bars. However, keep in mind that probation agreements follow strict rules, and any mistakes can lead to you facing harsh punishments, sometimes including your original sentence.

A qualified attorney can help you understand whether probation may be an option in your particular DUI case.

Will I lose my driver’s license?

In most cases, your driver’s license is not gone forever if you are convicted of a DUI. It may be suspended for months or even a year, depending on how many convictions you have on your record.

However, there are cases where your license may be revoked. Multiple offenses or aggravating factors can lead to a higher severity of your charges and revocation of your driving privileges.

Will my auto insurance rates go up?

Your auto insurance rates are likely to skyrocket if you are convicted of a DUI and the insurance company knows about it. But if the DUI you’re charged with (and ultimately convicted of) didn’t involve an auto accident, you may not be required to tell your insurer about the DUI.

If the insurance company does find out about a DUI on your record, they are likely to increase your rates significantly. And those higher premiums can last for years.

Speak with a lawyer about your obligations (or lack thereof) to notify your insurance company following a DUI charge or conviction.

Are there immigration consequences?

Often, immigrants who are convicted of certain crimes face an additional possible penalty. That penalty is deportation.

However, misdemeanor DUIs do not appear to trigger deportation proceedings in most cases. With that said, it’s still important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are an immigrant who has been charged with any sort of crime and are worried about your immigration status.

Can the criminal record be expunged?

Expungement is the removal of an offense from your record. California often allows those who have completed probation for a misdemeanor DUI to seek expungement.

If your expungement is successful, employers won’t be able to use your prior DUI against you when evaluating you for hire or promotion.

However, if you get another DUI within a decade of your now-expunged DUI, the expunged DUI will still count as a past offense. That means you may face harsher penalties for the second DUI charge you’re now facing.

How does a DUI affect professional licenses?

If you hold a professional license of some sort, a DUI can have profound effects on your career. You may be required to report your DUI conviction to a licensing board in your industry. And the conviction could lead to the suspension or revocation of your license.

Of course, that means you can’t work in your field either temporarily or permanently. That’s your livelihood at stake. Don’t risk your livelihood — reach out to an experienced attorney to discuss the potential professional implications of a California DUI and how to avoid them.

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