Most people have the misconception that the legal limit to drive with alcohol in your system is anything below .08% BAC. However, many people are commonly charged with a DUI, even when their BAC is below .08%. The reason is because California Vehicle Code 23152(a) expresses that someone may be DUI simply by being under the influence of any alcoholic beverage and driving a vehicle. Furthermore, this statute makes it illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of a drug, or the combination of alcohol and drugs.
California Vehicle Code 23152(a) states, It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
This means that a prosecutor can charge you with a DUI, even if your BAC was below .08%. The statute simply says under the influence, which is a very ambiguous term. A trained DUI attorney, that has litigated trials, knows that it is important to know the jury instructions in order to truly understand the charges.
CalCrim Jury Instruction No. 2110 states, A person is under the influence if, as a result of drinking or consuming an alcoholic beverage, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.
The key is that a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone is so impaired, they couldn’t drive with the same caution and care as a sober person, under similar circumstances. A good DUI attorney can explain to a jury or a prosecutor that anyone whos driven on the roads of Los Angeles knows that even sober drivers constantly do dangerous maneuvers in everyday normal driving. Even though alcohol related accident rates are high, most traffic accidents that occur are actually with drivers that are sober. For someone to be so impaired they couldn’t drive with that same caution and care as a sober person, it would mean that the prosecutor has evidence of very dangerous driving.