Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC sets forth California’s DUI “per se” law for taxi, limo and ride-sharing drivers. These motorists are prohibited from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04% or higher while a paying passenger is in the vehicle.
California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) reads:
Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC is the California statute that prohibits rideshare drivers of driving under the influence of any alcoholic beverage and drugs. Any drug, whether illicit or prescribed, can lead to DUI charges if it impairs the person’s driving ability. Most convictions under California law are misdemeanors. However, some can be felony DUI offenses.
The law makes the “legal limit” for ride-sharing drivers the same as for commercial drivers in California. It contrasts with California’s legal limit of .08% BAC for most drivers age 21 and over.
The .04% legal limit for California ride-sharing drivers will also apply under California Vehicle Code 23153(e) – DUI causing injury
Until the new law takes effect, California’s .08% legal limit will continue to apply to taxi, limo and ride-sharing drivers.
Who does 23152(e) VC apply to?
Vehicle Code 23153(e) VC applies to drivers who have a “passenger for hire” in the vehicle at the time of the offense. A “passenger for hire” is someone who is expected to pay for the ride as a condition of being driven, including:
- Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing passengers;
- Taxi passengers; and
- Passengers in limousines with fewer than 10 people in the vehicle (including the driver).
The compensation need not be paid directly to the driver. A passenger is “for hire” if: (1) Money is paid to a company (for instance, through the Uber or Lyft app), or (2) Compensation is given directly to the driver in the form of cash, a credit card or otherwise.
Note that “passenger for hire” does not include passengers in carpools or rides in which friends simply contribute gas money for the trip.
When is a ride-sharing driver deemed to be under the influence?
As of July 1, 2018, a taxi, limo or ride-sharing driver is considered “under the influence” in California if:
- The driver’s physical or mental abilities are impaired to the extent that he or she can no longer drive as well as a cautious sober person, or
- The driver’s “blood alcohol content” (BAC) exceeds:
- .04% if paying passengers are in the vehicle, or
- .08% at other times,
BAC levels are determined by a DUI breath test or DUI blood test given after a lawful arrest and within three (3) hours of driving.
PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING 23152(E) VC
DUI penalties for ride-sharing drivers under Vehicle Code 23152(e) are the same as for “regular” DUIs. A first DUI offense is a California misdemeanor that can be punished by:
- Up to 6 months in county jail, and/or
- A fine of $390-$1000.
The driver may also face an administrative DUI license suspension hearing at the California DMV.
The following chart summarizes the basic criminal penalties for a non-injury California DUI:5
|Type of California DUI||Imprisonment and/or Fine|
|1st offense misdemeanor DUI||Up to 6 months$390-1000|
|2nd offense misdemeanor DUI||96 hrs.-1 year$390-1000|
|3rd offense misdemeanor DUI||120 days-1 year$390-1000|
|Felony DUI||16 mos.-3 years $390-1000|
|DUI with injury (misdemeanor)||5 days – 1 year$390-5000*|
|DUI with injury (felony)||16 mos.-16 years$1015-5000*|
|*Plus possible criminal restitution to injured parties.|
In addition to (or instead of) court-imposed criminal penalties for DUI, the California DMV may impose:
- A license suspension or revocation (though in some cases a restricted California driver’s license may be available, or defendants may be able to continue driving with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed), and
- Mandatory DUI school.
These administrative penalties are indicated in the following chart:
|Type of California DUI||Term of Suspension / Revocation & DUI School|
|1st offense misdemeanor DUI||6 to 10 months, plus3 or 9 months DUI school|
|2nd offense misdemeanor DUI||2 years suspension, plus18 or 30 months DUI school|
|3rd offense misdemeanor DUI||3 years, plus30 months DUI school|
|DUI with injury (misdemeanor)||1 to 3 years, plus3, 18 or 30 months DUI school|
|DUI with injury (felony)||5 years, plus18 or 30 months|
|Felony DUI||4 years, plus18 or 30 months|
DEFENSES FOR VIOLATING OF 23152(E) VC
Legal defenses for ride-sharing drivers charged with California DUI can include (but are not limited to):
- The driver was not carrying a paying passenger;
- The police did not follow proper procedures when they stopped or arrested the driver;
- The police did not follow proper procedures in administering the DUI breath test or DUI blood test; or
- There were laboratory errors that made the DUI chemical test results unreliable.
HELP YOU NEED
If you have been charged with a Los Angeles DUI offense it is very important to consult with an experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney as soon as possible. There are tight deadlines in every DUI case, especially in regard to driver’s licenses, and retaining an attorney early on can make a significant difference.
With many years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles DUI Attorney Chris Nalchadjian is highly effective at fighting all aspects of DUI charges. Mr. Nalchadjian understands the consequences a DUI conviction can carry and works hard to ensure his clients receive the best representation possible.
For more information about driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles DUI Attorney Chris Nalchadian at KN Law Firm. We can be reached 24/7 at 888 950 0011 or through this contact form.