DUI – Driving Under the Influence

The law relating to driving under the influence is extraordinarily complex, with constantly evolving criminal penalties and administrative consequences. Expert DUI defense requires attorneys who not only know the Vehicle Code and the criminal courts, but who also can navigate the Department of Motor Vehicles and are conversant in the science of blood alcohol testing. 

An individual accused of DUI will likely need representation before the California Department of Motor Vehicles. (Vehicle Code sections 13353.2, 13353, 23136.) Following an arrest for DUI, the DMV usually brings an administrative action to suspend a person's driving privileges. If a driver does not request a DMV hearing and a stay of the suspension within 10 days of the date of arrest, the DMV will automatically suspend the driver's California driver's license 30 days after arrest. 

A driver may be charged with a DUI even with a blood alcohol level that is not at or above 0.08%, the legal limit in California. Vehicle Code section 23152(a) prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol regardless of whether the blood alcohol level was 0.08% or higher. The crucial question is whether alcohol adversely affected a person's ability to drive safely. A prosecution for a violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(b) is a charge of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more, regardless of whether the driver was actually impaired. Vehicle Code section 23152(c) criminalizes driving while addicted to drugs. Vehicle Code section 23152(d) prohibits driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.04% or more. Vehicle Code section 23152(e) prohibits driving under the influence of drugs, even prescribed drugs, when the drugs substantially impair a person's ability to drive safely. Vehicle Code section 23152(f) prohibits driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs when the driver is too impaired to drive safely. A driver who is under 21 years old can be charged with an infraction DUI for driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.01% or more. (Vehicle Code sections 23140 and 23136(a).)

If the charge involves an accident causing injury or death to someone other than the driver, a DUI charge can be prosecuted as a felony. (Vehicle Code §§ 23153(a), 23153(b), 23153(c), 23153(d), 23153(e), 23153(f), Penal Code section 191.) Felony charges can also be brought if a driver has three or more prior DUI convictions. (Vehicle Code section 23550.) 

Nolan Barton & Olmos can provide the highest quality of representation in driving under the influence cases. When appropriate, we also assist our clients seeking treatment for problems of alcoholism and/or drug addiction. We also defend drivers in other Vehicle Code and DMV related issues, such as moving violations and administrative suspensions and revocations. 

The lawyers at Nolan Barton & Olmos have achieved acquittals of driving under the influence of alcohol charges at jury trial in numerous cases. DUI trials have been successfully defended based on issues of whether the vehicle was actually driven, whether the identity of the driver can be proved, whether the blood alcohol testing methods are sufficiently reliable, whether the blood alcohol level increased between the time of driving and the time the chemical test was administered and whether the admittedly intoxicated driver was legally entitled to drive in order to prevent a more serious harm. We have successfully litigated motions to suppress evidence in DUI cases that have resulted in the cases being dismissed. The motions have been made on the grounds that the client was illegally detained or unlawfully arrested or subjected to unreasonable testing procedures. We have also successfully defended at jury trial an individual charged with murder based on a fatal car collision while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. A multitude of cases have been resolved on favorable terms without proceeding to jury trial. Dan Barton is a specialist member of the California DUI Lawyers Association.