Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence offenses are some of the most common charges faced by California residents, affecting people from all walks of life. The defense attorneys at Hamasaki Law understand how DUI charges can significantly disrupt your lifestyle and impact everything from your employment to your family and social life. Because DUI charges can be complicated and highly technical, it is important to have an experienced criminal lawyer.

A person arrested for a DUI can face both criminal charges and a DMV license suspension. Potential consequences vary depending on whether you have prior DUI convictions, the type of DUI charged, and whether any enhancements are alleged.

A hearing at the DMV must be requested within ten days from the date of your arrest or your license may be suspended. An experienced DMV attorney can represent you at the hearing and challenge the suspension.

Common DUI Offenses

The defense attorneys at Hamasaki Law have extensive experience handling a variety of driving under the influence offenses all over the Bay Area, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma Counties. Some of the common DUI related offenses are as follows:


  • Misdemeanor DUI
  • Open Container
  • DUI with Injury
  • Felony DUI
  • Underage DUI
  • Penalties and Enhancements

California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a), 23152(b)

A standard arrest for a DUI in California will typically result in two separate misdemeanor charges:

  1. § 23152(a): Driving under the influence of alcohol.
  2. § 23152(b): Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater.

Elements – What does the prosecution have to prove in a DUI?

While there is overlap, the elements that must be proved for each charge vary slightly.

1. 1. California Vehicle Code § 23152(a): Driving Under the Influence
In order to be convicted of driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code section 23152(a), the prosecution must prove two things:

  1. (1) You drove a motor vehicle; and
  2. You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time you drove.
    You are legally under the influence if "as a result of drinking an alcoholic beverage, your mental or physical abilities are so impaired that you are no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances."

    In determining whether or not you are under the influence, there are many factors to consider like the manner in which you were driving, your blood alcohol content, whether you smelled like alcohol or slurred your words when talking with the police. The manner in which a person is driving is not enough, by itself, to determine you were under the influence.

2. California Vehicle Code § 23152(b): Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater
In order to be convicted of driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code section 23152(b), the prosecution must prove two things:


  1. You drove a motor vehicle; and
  2. When you drove, your blood alcohol content was 0.08% or greater. Unlike a violation of 23152(a) where the prosecution must prove that you were "under the influence of alcohol", under 23152(b) the prosecution must prove that your blood alcohol content level was .08% or great at the time you were driving.

Even when your blood alcohol content test results were 0.08% or greater, it is important to have a skilled DUI lawyer review the discovery and conduct investigation. Just because your BAC was 0.08% at the time of your test does not mean it was above the legal limit while you were driving. Additionally, Bay Area counties have had problems with maintaining and calibrating their testing devices.

DUIs can be complicated and scientifically technical cases – it is important to have a qualified attorney evaluate your case and assist you in the process of reducing and fighting these charges.

Our defense lawyers at Hamasaki Law will guide you through the process from the moment we are contacted until your matter is resolved. Our lawyers will take the time explaining your various options, and we will work together to determine the best approach to fighting your case. Contact us now to discuss your case and let us help you through the process.

California Vehicle Code Sections 23220, 23221, 23222, 23225

California also makes it unlawful for drivers and passengers to consume, possess, or store opened alcoholic beverages in their vehicle, either while driving or while in the car.

It is not unlawful to carry alcohol in a way that is inaccessible to both the driver and passengers of the car, like in the trunk of your car. It is a separate offense to keep alcohol in the passenger compartment of your car, so this should never be used a storage area.

These charges do not apply to campers or vehicles otherwise used as living quarters.

Our defense lawyers at Hamasaki Law will guide you through the process from the moment we are contacted until your matter is resolved. Our lawyers will take the time explaining your various options, and we will work together to determine the best approach to fighting your case. Contact us now to discuss your case and let us help you through the process.

California Vehicle Code Sections 23153(a), 23153(b)

An arrest for a DUI with injury will usually result in two separate misdemeanor charges:

  1. § 23153(a): Driving under the influence of alcohol, and while driving, you broke an additional law or acted in negligent manner, which proximately caused injury to another.
  2. § 23153(b): Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater, and while driving, you broke an additional law or acted in a negligent manner, which proximately caused injury to another.

Elements – What does the prosecution have to prove in a DUI with injury?

While there is overlap, the elements that must be proved for each charge vary slightly.

1. California Vehicle Code § 23153(a): Driving Under the Influence
In order to be convicted of driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code section 23153(a), the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You drove a motor vehicle;
  2. You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time you drove;
    You are legally under the influence if "as a result of drinking an alcoholic beverage, your mental or physical abilities are so impaired that you are no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances."

    In determining whether or not you are under the influence, there are many factors to consider like the manner in which you were driving, your blood alcohol content, whether you smelled like alcohol or slurred your words when talking with the police. The manner in which a person is driving is not enough, by itself, to determine you were under the influence.
  3. While you were driving, you broke an additional law or acted in a negligent manner; and
    Breaking an additional law may include offenses like speeding or running a red light. Even if you did not break an additional law, this element can be proved by showing that you drove in a way that a reasonable person would not have driven under the same circumstances.
  4. This unlawful act or negligence proximately caused injury to another person.
    In order to be convicted of a DUI causing injury, your actions must have actually caused the injury in question. For example, if you are driving, and another driver runs a red light and hits your car, then the accident and injury were not caused by you and a DUI with injury is not the appropriate charge.

2. California Vehicle Code § 23153(b): Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or greater In order to be convicted of driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code section 23153(b), the prosecution must prove the following:


  1. You drove a motor vehicle;
  2. When you drove, your blood alcohol content was 0.08% or greater; Unlike a violation of 23152(a) where the prosecution must prove that you were "under the influence of alcohol", under 23152(b) the prosecution must prove that your blood alcohol content level was .08% or great at the time you were driving. It is presumed that you were driving with a 0.08% blood alcohol content if your BAC is .08% or greater at the time of your blood, breath, or urine test.

    Even when your blood alcohol content test results were 0.08% or greater, you should still obtain a criminal defense attorney to establish legal defenses and fight your case. For example, just because your BAC was 0.08% at the time of your test does not mean it was above the legal limit while you were driving or sometimes there are errors with the testing device. DUIs can be complicated and highly technical – it is important to have a qualified attorney evaluate your case and assist you in the process of reducing and fighting these charges.
  3. While you were driving, you broke an additional law or acted in a negligent manner, and Even if you did not break an additional law like speeding or running a red light, this element can be proved by showing that you drove in a way that a reasonable person would not have driven under the same circumstances.
  4. This unlawful act or negligence proximately caused injury to another person. In order to be convicted of a DUI causing injury, your actions must have actually caused the injury in question. For example, if you are driving, and another driver runs a red light and hits your car, then the accident and injury were not caused by you and a DUI with injury is not the appropriate charge.

Our defense attorneys at Hamasaki Law will guide you through the process from the moment we are contacted until your matter is resolved. Our attorneys will take the time explaining your various options, and we will work together to determine the best approach to fighting your case. Contact us now to discuss your case and let us help you through the process.

California Vehicle Code Sections 23153, 23550, 23550.6

Felony DUIs are costly, expose you to prison, and can result in the loss of your driver's license for a prolonged period of time, or indefinitely. At Hamasaki Law, we will guide you through the process from the moment we are contacted until your matter is resolved. We will spend the time with you explaining various options and strategies and we will work together to determine the best approach to fighting your case. Contact the attorneys at Hamasaki Law to discuss your case and let us help you through the process.

There are 3 types of felony DUIs:

  1. Causing Injury or Death
    If another person suffers injury or death because you were driving under the influence and committed an additional vehicle code violation or drove in a negligent way, you can be charged with a felony DUI. A felony DUI can be charged one of three ways:

    • Driving under the influence causing injury
    • DUI vehicular manslaughter
    • DUI second-degree murder

  2. Multiple Convictions

    If you have three or more prior DUI convictions within the last ten years, you can be charged with a felony DUI. Prior offenses include any of the following:


    • California DUI
    • California "wet reckless"
    • Out-of-state conviction that, if committed in California, would be the equivalent of a DUI

  3. Prior Felony DUI

    If you have at least one prior felony DUI and commit another DUI, even a simple misdemeanor DUI, you will be charged with a felony. Common scenarios when this might occur include:


    • Prior DUI caused injury or death and was charged a felony
    • Prior DUI charged as felony because you had multiple prior DUI convictions

California Vehicle Code Section 23136, 23140

All states have a zero tolerance policy for underage DUI offenses. This policy means that if you are under the age of 21, you cannot be caught driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system. There are three basic types of DUIs for persons under 21 years of age depending on your blood alcohol content at the time: (1) 0.01% - 0.04%; (2) 0.05%-0.07%; and (3) 0.08% or greater. Possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a person under 21 years old is also an offense.

  1. California Vehicle Code § 23136: Underage driving with BAC of 0.01% or greater
    This is California's "zero tolerance law." Under Section 23136, it is an infraction to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in your system if you are under the age of 21. An infraction will not result in jail time, but will require you to pay court fines and fees, take a DUI class if you are over 18 years old at the time of the offense, and your license will be suspended for one year.

  2. California Vehicle Code § 23140: Underage driving with BAC of 0.05% or greater
    In addition to penalties imposed by zero tolerance laws, California Vehicle Code § 23140, often referred to as "underage DUI", makes it an infraction for any minor to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.05% or higher. An infraction will not result in jail time, but will require you to pay court fines and fees, take a DUI class if you are over 18 years old at the time of the offense, and your license will be suspended for one year.

  3. California Vehicle Code § 23152: Driving while actually impaired or BAC 0.08% or greater
    This is the standard DUI charge that adults also receive. A driver of any age may be charged with driving under the influence. You may be charged under either Section 23152(a) or Section 23152(b). These charges require that the district attorney prove you were (1) driving; and (2) while driving, you were driving under the influence or with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater.

    If you are convicted of either a 23152(a) or 23152(b), you will be required to do a DUI program, your license will be suspended, you will be facing jail time that can sometimes be done through a community work program. For more information on a standard DUI, please see our DUI section.

  4. California Vehicle Code § 23224: Possession of alcohol in vehicle by person under 21
    In addition to driving under the influence charges, a minor may also be charged with possession of alcohol in their vehicle. If you are under the age of 21, you may not drive a vehicle if you or your passengers are carrying an alcoholic beverage or knowingly possess an alcoholic beverage while in your vehicle. You are permitted to have alcohol in your vehicle only if you are accompanied by your parent or legal guardian, or you are working for someone with a liquor license and are carrying the alcohol for employment purposes during the course of your employment.

    A violation of Section 23224 is a misdemeanor and is punishable by:

    • Fine up to $1,000
    • Imprisonment in county jail for no more than six months
    • Both fine and jail time

Our defense lawyers at Hamasaki Law will guide you through the process from the moment we are contacted until your matter is resolved. Our lawyers will take the time explaining your various options, and we will work together to determine the best approach to fighting your case. Contact us now to discuss your case and let us help you through the process.

If you are convicted of a DUI, the penalties vary depending on if you have prior DUI convictions in the last ten years. The penalties for a first, second, third, and fourth offense are below. If you are charged with additional DUI enhancements like driving with a minor in your vehicle or refusal to submit to a chemical test, this may increase your penalties. For the effect of enhancements, please see the enhancements section below.

Unlike most other criminal offenses, DUIs have both consequences in criminal court, and through the DMV. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Hamasaki Law can represent you in both proceedings.

Penalties for Standard DUI

First DUI

  • Probation: If you are convicted of a first time DUI, courts generally impose a three year term of informal court probation. Court probation means that you will not have a probation officer to report to. A condition of your probation is that you cannot drive with any measureable amount of alcohol in your system. If you are pulled over while on probation, you will have to submit to a chemical test if requested.
  • Fines and Fees: Court fines fees and vary between counties. These fees can be at once or overtime through payment plans.
  • Driver's License Suspension: Your license may be suspended for 6 months on a standard first time DUI. You may be eligible for a restricted license after 1 month.
  • DUI School: You may be required to attend a DUI school.
  • Jail Time: Up to six months in the county jail.

Second DUI

  • Probation: A second DUI within 10 years can result in formal or informal probation, generally from three to five years. Court probation means that you will not have probation officer to report to. If you are granted formal probation, you will be assigned a probation officer and be required to check in with probation.
  • Fines and Fees: Court fines and fees vary between counties. These fees can be at once or overtime through payment plans.
  • Driver's License Suspension: You may lose your driver's license for 2 years, and are eligible for a restricted license after one year.
  • DUI School: You will be requi