California Vehicle Code DUI

Violations of California Vehicle Code 23152 a and b are some of the most common code violations in the state. These codify California’s drunk driving violations, which can result in a DUI conviction, license suspension, fines, fees and other penalties. Each year, police and law enforcement make more than 100,000 drunk driving arrests in California alone.


Under Vehicle Code 23152 (a), “it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.”

Under the influence” is not a set number. It relates to impairment of a driver’s mental or physical abilities as a result of alcohol, to the extent that he/she are no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober driver, using ordinary care under similar circumstances.

Prosecutors prove the driver was under the influence through a combination of the police officer’s testimony and written report, noting how he/she observed the vehicle on the road, including any unsafe driving, the appearance of the driver, failed field sobriety tests, and any chemical tests.

Because this doesn’t include a clear boundary for what is considered to be under the influence, this means that a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is under the legal limit can still be charged and convicted of a DUI. A driver with a BAC of 0.06% for example, could still be shown to be impaired if he/she wasn’t able to drive with the caution of a sober driver.


Under Vehicle Code 23152 (b), “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.”

This is known as a DUI per se. Regardless of the driver’s actual impairment, a driver is considered to be under the influence “per se” if his/her blood alcohol content (BAC) meets a certain threshold. For most drivers that limit is 0.08% or higher. Underage drivers and commercial drivers have a lower per se limit.

Blood alcohol is tested through chemical tests of the blood or breath. During a traffic stop, a police officer may try and get the driver to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test, also known as a breathalyzer. However, this is not the test that will be used in court. Instead, the chemical breath test will usually occur with a much bigger, and arguably more accurate machine, often at the police department. These later test results will be used by a prosecutor to attempt to show a violation of the vehicle code.

Vehicle Code Penalties

The penalties for a first time offense under Vehicle Code 23152 a or b may include fines and fees, mandatory DUI school, probation, a suspended license for six months, and in some counties, an ignition interlock device (IID) on the driver’s vehicle, even for first-time offenders.

During the arrest, the police officer will take the drivers license and give the driver a temporary license that is only good for 30 days. His/her license will be administratively suspended by the DMV, unless he/she requests a formal hearing. The administrative per se (APS) hearing must be requested within 10 days of the arrest in order to challenge an automatic license suspension.

Vehicle Code DUI Attorney

If you are charged with violating California Vehicle Code 23152, you may be looking at a criminal record, losing your driving privileges, and thousands in fines, fees and costs. Your California DUI lawyer will be able to explain all the penalties involved, defense strategies, and how you can keep your license. Remember that you have to act fast because you only have 10 days after your arrest to file a DMV hearing request and have an attorney represent you during the DMV hearing to keep your driver’s license.