I. VC 23152(g): Driving Under the Influence of a Combination of Alcohol and Drugs
Legal Definition: “(g) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.”
To be found guilty of driving under the influence of a drug under VC 23152(g), the prosecution must show that you:
- Drove a Motor Vehicle;
- You drove under the influence;
- You were under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs.
II. What does this mean?
A person is under the influence if, as a result of 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. 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.
It doesn’t matter if the drug is proscribed to you either, so long as it impairs your ability to drive, while you are driving. Impairment is important, for example, someone taking headache medicine for a headache, would not put you under the influence, despite the fact that it would be considered a “drug”. If the drug does not cause impairment, then it is not a Drug DUI offense. Also, unlike a DUI found under VC 23152(b), there is not a “per se” limit of drugs that could be in your system to cause impairment. In other words, there is not a specific amount of drug, whether it be legally proscribed, or something such as cocaine or marijuana, that must be in your system to prove impairment, though this is something that is being studied and worked on to determine if that limit can be found.
This charge also does not have a “per se” limit for alcohol, so long as there is some actual in your system, mixed with a drug, and the officer feels you are impaired, you can be charged under this section. Imagine a scenario where you take sleeping pills and have a glass of wine, even if separately they may not cause you to be under the influence, if their combination causes you to be unable to safely operate a vehicle, then you can be arrested and charged under this section.
And again, like drinking and driving, the crime comes from an impairment, not simply taking a legal or illicit drug and drinking. If you smoke marijuana and drink a beer and drive, but your driving is not affected, then you would not be guilty of a Combination DUI. Another difference here instead of regular alcohol DUIs is that when it is suggested that a person may be under the influence of a drug, a blood test must be done since a breath test will not be able to determine the drugs in your system. A breath test can be used to determine the amount of alcohol in your system, however.
A conviction under VC 23152(g) is the same as a misdemeanor DUI. The maximum exposure can be up to 6 months in a County Jail. You must serve at least 50% of that time in custody. If this is not your first DUI offense, the penalties go up, those can be found here. Finally, if you have sufficient prior DUIs or a prior felony DUI, you can be charged under this section as a felony as well, which can be found here.
This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. You could also face a loss of your Professional License if convicted, and if you are not a legal resident, you would face Deportation in Immigration Court since DUIs are generally held to be very serious crimes in immigration and licensing cases.
IV. Common Defenses
The most common defense to a Combination Drug/DUI case, since there is no “per se” limit to the combination of drug and alcohol use while driving, is to claim that you were not actually unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. A person can seem under the influence for a myriad of reasons. A person could be just getting off work, they could be tired, lacking sleep, stressed, or nervous simply being around police. It is not enough to show that there is some combination in your system of alcohol or drugs, it’s also that you are so impaired by that combination, that you cannot safely drive, and are therefore under the influence. Failing to show that your combination has made you under the influence, would act as a defense, showing there is insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of this crime.
Another common defense would be that the officer who stopped your car had violated your rights under the Fourth Amendment. In California, if there is an incident where police made an illegal or unlawful stop of you, then under PC 1538.5, you can move to suppress any evidence that came after your illegal stop. This means any admissions you made that you consumed any drugs or blood test you took, which would, in turn, win you your case. You need an experienced attorney to review your case for this reason, as unlawful stops are an all too common aspect of DUI Law.
V. Call Today
A DUI can have a devastating impact on your life and your future. DUI crimes are heavily prosecuted in California, and the fines, classes, and jail associated with them are always on the higher end than a typical criminal offense. Not every attorney knows how to defend DUI cases, and that is what is needed to either fight the charges or work out a good plea bargain for your case. These are charges that must be heavily defended against. Our Ontario VC 23152(g) Driving Under the Influence of a Combination of Alcohol and Drugs attorney has successfully defended hundreds of DUI crimes throughout the entire Inland Empire. Call your local Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney today at the Inland Empire Defense 909-939-7126. Located in Ontario.