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In Ventura, the California statute set in penal code VC 23152(a) makes driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol illegal. For adults age 21 and older driving a personal vehicle, the legal limit is 0.08 percent blood alcohol level (BAC).  

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, it does not automatically mean that you are guilty. It’s important to vigorously fight a DUI charge because a criminal conviction will stay on your record and can adversely affect job and educational opportunities down the road.

As a former Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Offices in both Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties, Sanford Horowitz and his legal team will offer you a free consultation, investigate the evidence against you, and recommend practical steps to achieve the best possible results in your case.



The California Vehicle Code 23152 makes driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated illegal, and deals with alcohol, drugs, and driving with an active substance addiction. VC 23152(a) specifically criminalizes driving while intoxicated with alcohol.

In California, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limits vary by age and circumstance. The California Vehicle Code 23152(b)(d)(e) states the legal limit for:  

  • Adults 21 years of age or older is 0.08 percent
  • Commercial drivers is 0.04 percent, and
  • Drivers with passengers for hire is 0.04 percent

Furthermore, California law sets the BAC limits for those below the legal drinking age of 21 and those serving probation at 0.01 percent.  

Some examples of driving under the influence include:

  • Driving your personal vehicle as a contractor of a ride-sharing company, such as Uber or Lyft, with a 0.04 percent BAC while transporting paying passengers
  • Driving a semi-trailer truck off the clock with a blood alcohol level of 0.04 percent
  • Driving a moped with a 0.08 percent or greater BAC

The California legal code defines a motor vehicle as any vehicle that is self-propelled and meant for driving on highways or streets, excluding motorized wheelchairs and similar apparatus used by individuals with physical disabilities. This means you can still be charged with a DUI under VC 23152(a) if you are driving vehicles such as mopeds, motorcycles, and off-road or all-terrain vehicles.  

Note you can still be charged with a DUI in the state of California if you are on a bicycle (VC 21200.5) or driving a boat (HNC 655(b))



    To increase the likelihood of conviction, prosecutors will always charge suspects with two separate crimes:

    • Driving while under the influence of alcohol (VC 23152(a)), which applies if your mental and physical capabilities seem to be impaired and do not require a chemical test to determine BAC, and
    • Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater (VC 23152(b)), which is a “per se” section that applies even if your mental and physical capabilities appeared normal. “Per se” means prosecutors only need a chemical blood, breath, or urine analysis showing a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher as proof of DUI.

    However, if found guilty of both crimes, these separate violations are treated as a single offense, and your punishment will only reflect a single DUI charge.

    Penalties for a DUI conviction will vary depending on:

    • Past DUI convictions
    • Associated property damage
    • If there were victims who suffered injury or death, and/or
    • Whether the crime was associated with other aggravating factors, such as speeding (VC 23582) or having a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle (VC 23572)

    For victimless DUI crimes, the penalties are as follows:

    First DUI within 10 years:

    • 3 to 5 years of summary probation
    • 6-month suspension of driver’s license or no suspension with the installation of ignition interlocking device (IID) for 6 months
    • Potential 48 hours to 6 months in jail at the judge’s discretion
    • $390 to $1,000 fines, in addition to penalty assessments
    • 3 months of DUI school totaling 30 hours (if BAC was less than 0.20 percent)
    • Attendance at Victim Impact Panel

    Second DUI within 10 years:

    • 3 to 5 years of summary probation
    • 2 years suspension of driver’s license or none with the installation of IID in the vehicle for 1 year
    • 96 hours to 1 year in jail or potential alternative of house arrest
    • $390 to $1,00 fines, in addition to penalty assessments
    • 18 to 30 month DUI course

    Third DUI within 10 years:

    • 3 to 5 years of summary probation
    • 3 years suspension of driver’s license or none with the installation of IID in vehicle for 2 years
    • 120 days to 1 year in jail, with minimum sentence set at 30 days with probation and 30 month DUI course
    • $390 to $1,000 in fines, in addition to penalty assessments
    • 30 month DUI course

    The first three DUI offenses without aggravating factors incurred within a 10-year period are likely to be charged as misdemeanors.

    Felony charges are probable if the DUI involves death or severe injury to others, you have a prior DUI felony, or if this is your fourth DUI offense within 10 years. If death occurs as a result of drunk driving, the defendant can be subject to felony manslaughter or murder charges in addition to a felony DUI charge.

    In California, persons convicted of a felony cannot own a gun, hold public office, serve on a jury, or, in certain circumstances, vote.


    Whether or not you were under the influence of alcohol at the time of your arrest, your DUI lawyer has multiple methods to mount a defense, which include:

    Police ignored proper procedure

    When police officers pull a person over for a suspected DUI, there are rules and regulations they must follow. Correct procedure will include:

    • Observation of Fourth Amendment rights, including reasonable suspicion and probable cause
    • Field sobriety tests carried out correctly, including clear instructions
    • Collection of chemical samples in accordance with Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations
    • Reading of the Miranda Rights where applicable

    Violation of these procedures is considered police misconduct and may cast enough reasonable doubt for dismissal.

    Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are flawed

    Field sobriety tests (FSTs) include the walk-and-turn and one-leg-stand. Even when conducted, demonstrated, and scored perfectly, FSTs can be fairly inaccurate. Furthermore, many officers lack sufficient training and experience in administering these highly subjective tests. Both are poor standards to establish the level of intoxication, as suspects could fail for a variety of non-alcoholic related reasons, including:

    • Lack of coordination
    • Injury
    • Obesity
    • Age
    • Sleep-deprivation
    • Anxiousness
    • Uneven ground
    • Unclear instructions given by police

    Horowitz DUI attorneys have the same training police officers receive in FSTs and make sure a jury understands the inherent unreliability of FSTs.

    Defendant was sober while driving

    Alcohol is not the sole cause of erratic or careless driving. A sober driver might display the signs of intoxicated driving due to:

    • Momentary distractions, such as screaming children in the vehicle or nearby car accidents
    • Impaired line of sight due to sun glare
    • Mechanical issues
    • Medical reasons, such as seizure or diabetic event
    • Panic caused by emergency situations, such as driving a severely injured person to the hospital

    Note if you drive under the influence of a drug (VC 23152(f)) or with an active substance addiction (VC 23152(c)), you can still be charged with a DUI.

    If you are facing a DUI charge, Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense knows the law and the best strategies to defend you. We have extensive experience representing clients throughout the Ventura County area and want to help you understand the charges you are facing, as well as what your rights are under the law. If you’d like to schedule a consultation about your case, call 805-452-7214 or fill out this contact form.

    cup of whiskey with cop car and police car


    How many drinks is 0.08?

    Based on estimations, the average woman must consume about 2 drinks and the average man about 3 drinks to reach a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent. It is important to note, however, that BAC can be affected by numerous factors, including medication, food intake, fatigue, and individual biological differences. The safest option is to have a designated driver when drinking.  

    Are DUI checkpoints legal?

    In the case of Ingersoll v. Palmer of 1987, the California Supreme Court concluded sobriety checkpoints were constitutional given they follow certain criteria, including an unbiased selection of drivers and reasonable timeframes for stops. The court reasoned DUI checkpoints fell under the same category as airport screening searches and, therefore, were exempted from the Fourth Amendment.

      Can felony DUI charges be expunged?

      Felony charges can never be expunged from someone’s record. A DUI charge can only be expunged if it was a misdemeanor and the defendant:

      • successfully completes probation, or
      • successfully completes a jail sentence (whichever is applicable)

        Can I refuse to take a breathalyzer test?

        Drivers are not obligated to submit to a portable breath test. However, there are penalties associated with refusal, including:

        • Extra days in jail
        • Administrative license suspension
        • DUI school

        The prosecutor may also leverage this refusal as proof of guilt and pursue the case based on the officer’s observations.

          Are there immigration consequences for a DUI?

          A VC 23152(a) charge may have negative consequences for non-citizens if the case is labeled as a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). This may result in deportation or being marked as inadmissible.

            Will my insurance rates go up after a DUI?

            Most car insurance companies will raise premiums after a DUI conviction. The increased amount can depend on several factors, including the time elapsed since the DUI charge, the number of DUIs, and age. Most car insurance companies will be aware of a DUI conviction when they check your driving record before renewal or file an SR-22 form on your behalf to prove minimum liability coverage after your license was suspended.


              Don’t wait to contact Sanford Horowitz to ensure that your legal rights are protected.