In Kern County, it is a misdemeanor to drive a vehicle under the following circumstances:
• While under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under their combined influence. This is a violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(a).
— DUI involving alcohol. It is not necessary to prove any specific degree of intoxication, but only that the defendant was under the influence.
— DUI involving drugs. When a defendant is charged with driving under the influence of a drug, a showing of a specific measurable amount of the drug in the defendant’s blood is not required. The showing that must be made is that the defendant was under the influence.
It is important to understand that the 23152a provision, sometimes referred to as the “A” count, allows a prosecutor to convict you of DUI even if your BAC is below .08 or you have no alcohol in your system whatsoever. For example, if you are tested and have a .06 blood alcohol level and the arresting officer can articulate a reason to believe you were operating the vehicle in an impaired manner you could theoretically be charged and convicted of a DUI. With that being said, there are a number of ways to defend such a low BAC and having a local Kern County DUI Attorney can often mean the difference between being found guilty and having the case dismissed.
• The second and most common DUI charge is the “B” count VC 23152b which is defined as having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in one’s blood. For this offense it is not necessary to prove the defendant was, in fact, under the influence; it is sufficient to prove the blood-alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more. For this reason, this statute is sometimes referred to as the “per se” DUI statute. The evidence to prove this type of DUI can come from a breath test, a blood sample or a urine test in some circumstances.
Charging Violation of Vehicle Code §23152 as Felony
The Kern County District Attorney has the discretion to charge a violation of Vehicle Code §23152 as a felony when the defendant has:
• Three or more separate DUI convictions within ten years of the current offense. Veh C §23550.
• A prior felony DUI conviction or prior felony gross vehicular manslaughter violation within the past ten years of the current offense. Veh C §23550.5(a).
• A prior conviction for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Pen C §191.5(a)), felonious vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated but without gross negligence (Pen C §191.5(b)), or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and when committed during the operation of a vessel.
A felony DUI in Kern County can be punishable by up to 3 years in the state prison or more if the defendant has been charged with enhancements such as prison priors, GBI, having minors in the car at the time of the arrest, or has prior “strike” felony convictions which could double the sentence range or even cause the defendant to be facing 25 years to life.