Understanding the DUI Laws in California can be tricky if you are not familiar with them, and most people are not. If you are over 21 years of age, and charged with a DUI, and there was "no bodily injury caused to any other person," the citation you receive may list two separate charges related to the DUI. VC 23152(a), and VC 23152(b). The "VC" portion stands for "Vehicle Code," which is the set of laws in California that controls, among other things, DUI laws.
Understanding the VC 23152(a) Charge
VC 23152(a) is a general DUI "catch all" charge that covers driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. For example, a person can be convicted of this charge if they were under the influence of alcohol and had a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.07. Likewise, a person can be arrested and charged with this if a cop believes that the person was driving a car under the influence of a another intoxicant such as marijuana or even prescription drugs.
Understanding the VC 23152(b) Charge
VC 23152(b) is a more specific DUI charge and relates only to alcohol. To be charged with this, a person must have a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.08 or higher. For example, if after getting arrested, a person submits to a Breath Test and the results come back at 0.10, the cop will list both charges, VC 23152(a) and VC 23152(b) on the citation. Keep in mind that if a person submits to a blood test as opposed to a breath test, the cop will only list VC 23152(a) on the citation. But, if the results come back at 0.08 or higher, the Court prosecutor will then add the VC 23152(b) charge.
Penalties for VC 23152(a) and 23152(b) - First Offense
If convicted of a first offense DUI, the penalty may include anywhere between 48 hours to 6 months in jail, a fine between $390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments*, and an alcohol course ranging from 3 months to 9 months in length. The Court also has the power to impound your car, require an IID (Ignition Interlock Device), and take other additional action.
Penalties for VC 23152(a) and 23152(b) - Second Offense
If convicted of a second offense DUI, the penalty may include anywhere between 96 hours to 1 year in jail, a fine between $390 to $1,000 plus penalty assessments*, and an 18 month alcohol program. The Court also has the power to impound your car, require an IID (Ignition Interlock Device), and take other additional action.
Penalty Assessments for Court fines
Penalty Assessments are fees and taxes that the Court adds to a fine. Currently, the penalty assessments are approximately 4 and a 1/2 times the actual fine. That is why it is important to keep those fines as low as possible. A $390 fine with penalty assessment will total approximately $1,750, but a $1,000 fine will be almost $5,000!
Conviction of 23152 - Pilot Program requiring Interlock Device for Car
On July 1, 2010, California passed a Bill (AB 91) for a "pilot program" that requires the DMV to enforce the installation of an Interlock Device (IID) upon conviction of VC 23152 in four counties in California, including Los Angeles County.
An Interlock Device is basically a breath test machine that is hooked up to a car. It requires the driver to blow into the device. If the device reads that there is alcohol in that person's breath, it will disengage the ignition, thus the driver will not be able to start his or her car.
The bill requires the installation of an IID device for the following terms:
o First offense -- Mandatory term of five months
o Second offense -- Mandatory term of twelve months
o Third offense -- Mandatory term of twenty-four months
o Fourth and subsequent offense -- Mandatory term of thirty-six months
The cost of the installation and maintenance of the IID is the responsibility of the driver convicted of VC 23152.
Other DUI related charges and enhancements
In addition to VC 23152 charges, you may be cited for additional violations by the arresting officer which may increase your penalties. Common additional charges can include VC 12500 (driving without a valid license), and VC 14601 (driving while license suspended or revoked).
Additionally, in certain instances there are other enhancements to DUI charges that can increase the potential penalties you may face. A short list of enhancements includes Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test, violation of probation, driving at an excessive speed (20 mph or more in a residential street, 30 mph or more on a freeway), and driving with a passenger under 14 years of age.
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