DUI Elements – What They Must Prove to Convict You

San Diego DUI Attorney Explains the Legal Elements of a Basic DUI

car_frontThe term “DUI” refers to many offenses under California Law. Each one has separate elements that the government must prove in order to convict somebody of DUI. Each element must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If even one element can not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must return a verdict of “Not Guilty.”

DUI Offense 1, Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (California Vehicle Code 23152, subdivision A)

In order to prove a violation of this offense the government must prove

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle, and
  2. When he/she drove, the defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or a drug or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug.

For purposes of these elements, the term “under the influence” means, as a result of drinking or consuming an alcoholic beverage and/or taking a drug, 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.

This offense has NO REQUIREMENT THAT DEFENDANT’S BAC IS OVER .08. The only element is that the defendant was “under the influence” at the time of driving. This is usually established by both the chemical test indicating the presence of drugs or alcohol, defendant’s performance of field sobriety tests, and the objective symptoms of intoxication observed by the arresting police officer (smell of alcohol, slurred speech, red watery eyes, flush skin tone, unsteady gait or walk, and disorientation.

DUI Offense 2, Driving with a BAC of .08 or Greater (California Vehicle Code 23152, subdivision B)

In order to prove a violation of this offense the government must prove

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle, and
  2. When he/she drove, the defendant’s blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more by weight.

The prosecutor must produce evidence of a chemical test to support a conviction of this charge. Usually, the person arrested submits to a blood or a breath test. Less commonly, the defendant submits to a urine test. The prosecutor must call an expert witness called a Forensic Toxicologist. He is the expert who explains to the jury the results of the chemical test and why it proves that the defendant’s BAC was above .08% at the time of driving. See our DUI Defenses article for information on how we fight this type of evidence.

DUI Offense 3, Driving while addicted to Narcotics (California Vehicle Code 23152, subdivision C)

In order to prove a violation of this offense the government must prove

The defendant drove a vehicle, and

When (he/she) drove, the defendant was addicted to a drug. A drug is a substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinarily cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances.

A person is addicted to a drug if he or she

  1. Has become physically dependent on the drug, suffering withdrawal symptoms if he or she is deprived of it,
  2. Has developed a tolerance to the drug’s effects and therefore requires larger and more potent doses,
  3. Has become emotionally dependent on the drug, experiencing a compulsive need to continue its use.

This DUI offense has no real application to enforcement today. It is virtually never charged in San Diego. If you have been charged with this offense, please call our office immediately.

Learn More…

If you are charged with a Traffic Misdemeanor or DUI, hire San Diego’s best traffic law firm. We can help you get a great result on your case. To learn more about our procedures and how we can represent you, call us at 619-649-2424 or email attorneys@hullingerfirm.com.