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Driving Under the Influence


Background on DUIs:

When it comes to driving with alcohol in your system, California Vehicle Code §23152 criminalizes operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. Thus, if an officer suspects that you were driving while under the influence, the first thing they will want to do is test your BAC.
If your BAC is above the legal limit, it is almost certain that you will be taken to jail for the night. On the other hand, if your BAC is below the legal limit, the officer may elect not to take you in to custody and instead issue you a citation to appear in court.
That’s right, even if your BAC was below the legal limit, you may still be facing criminal charges. The Orange County District Attorney’s office is notorious for prosecuting DUIs to the fullest extent possible. If the prosecutor believes that s/he can prove that at the time of driving your BAC was above .08, you will likely be charged with driving under the influence, even if you tested below .08.

What does the DA need to prove?

  1. That the defendant drove a motor vehicle;

  2. That the defendant was under the influence of alcohol/drugs at the time of driving; OR

  3. That your BAC was .08 or greater at the time of driving.


California Vehicle Code §23152 also criminalizes driving under the influence of drugs. Drug related DUI cases present more challenges for the prosecution to prove you were under the influence because there is no standard level the DA can use to show you were under the influence.


For example, there is no standard level of THC that is used in California that automatically makes you guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana. Thus, the prosecutor has to rely on your “objective symptoms of intoxication” to prove you were driving under the influence. These symptoms can include anything from the way you were driving to how you answered the officer’s questions.

What are the consequences of a first time DUI conviction?

Penalties for a first-time DUI can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of a case. But generally, the consequences can include the following:

  • 3 – 5 years of informal probation;

  • $390 - $1000 fine;

    • Penalty assessment on the fine will bring the fines much higher.

  • 6-month license suspension by DMV;

  • 3, 6, or 9 month alcohol class;

  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle;

  • Up to 6-months in jail;

  • A victim impact panel class; and

  • Increased car insurance.

One should also consider the possibility of indirect consequences of a DUI conviction like deportation and/or dismissal from your place of employment.

How to win a DUI case?

There are many ways of proving you were NOT driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
One way of showing that you had below the legal limit of alcohol in your system is by using a rising BAC defense. Alcohol takes approximately 30 – 45 minutes to metabolize before your BAC reaches its peak level.
Therefore, it is sometimes the case that your BAC was below the legal limit at the time of driving, even though your BAC was above .08 at the time you were tested. This defense is most effective when there was a substantial delay between the time of your driving and the time your BAC level was tested.
A DUI case can get very complex and confusing without the right lawyer at your side. This is why it is imperative that you speak with a lawyer before you go to court.
Don’t let the first time you explain your story be in front of a judge. Contact Attorney Mullen-Lujan to discuss your case and see how he may be able to help you win your case.

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