In most instances, individuals arrested for DUI will be charged with violating sections 23152(a) and 23152(b) of the California Vehicle Code. What does this mean?
California law defines the crime of DUI two different ways: Vehicle Code 23152(a) is driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both; Vehicle Code 23152(b) is driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.
Because different people become influenced at different BAC levels the law punishes both driving while “under the influence,” as well as for driving while over the “.08 legal limit.” Someone could be a .06 BAC, under the legal limit, but because of his/her sensitivity to alcohol, could nevertheless be “under the influence.” On the other hand, someone could be guilty of Vehicle Code 23152 (b), but not 23152 (a). For example someone with a higher tolerance could be driving at a .09 BAC, above the legal limit, but still not be “under the influence.” Therefore, he or she can sustain higher alcohol content without suffering the mental and physical impairment that compromises his ability to drive a car safely.
If you plead guilty either the (a) count or (b) count as part of a plea bargain, the other count is almost always dismissed as part of the deal. If you go to trial, you go to trial on both DUI charges and face conviction for both. The jury could find you guilty of either, neither or both. However, even if the jury found you guilty of both DUI offenses, you would only be sentenced and punished as to one of them.
One can be charged with a felony DUI (Vehicle Code Section 23153) in the following circumstances:
1. Where an injury results from the drunk driving; and/or,
2. If it is a 4th DUI offense.
Vehicular manslaughter (Penal Code Section 191.5 and 192) can be charged where there is a DUI and a death involved.