California Driving Under the Influence - Basic Elements of the Case

California Vehicle Code §§ 23152 and 23153 make it unlawful for any person to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In order for a person to be not only charged, but convicted of a Driving under the influence , or DUI, Prosecution must prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The Los Angeles DUI Lawyers at Hoffman & Associates understand how difficult it can be when you are arrested for a DUI. That is why our lawyers, with over thirty years of experience, can help guide you through the process so that you are not stressed and worried about it.

What Must Prosecution Prove to Establish a Case for DUI?

First and foremost, who is the Prosecution? The Prosecution is the attorney that represents the government. It is their job to prosecute you, if you are suspected of having committed a criminal offense. Prosecution must prove that there was probable cause to arrest the person driving, that the person had in fact been driving, and they had a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) that demonstrated intoxication.

Probable Cause

Officers may not stop a person unless they have a reason to do so. Many times the reason is a simple and obvious one such as weaving in and out of lanes, speeding, or running a stop sign or red light. Other times the reason is more subtle such as a broken tail light or expired license tags. Either way, the officer has a right to pull over the person if there is a valid reason, or probable cause, to do so. Once the person has been stopped, the officer may ask the driver to take a field sobriety test if there are signs that the driver may be intoxicated; slurred speech, red eyes, odor of alcohol, etc.


In addition to driving, there must be proof that the person was driving at the time they were intoxicated. The easiest way to prove this element is for the officer to directly observe the person driving and then pull them over and administer a field sobriety test that indicates intoxication. It is a little more difficult when the person is pulled over on the side of the highway or in a parking lot. In those cases where direct observation does not meet the driving element, the prosecution will use circumstantial evidence to arrive at the conclusion that the person was driving. Key facts will play a crucial role in proving this element in those situations: where were the keys to the car, where was the intoxicated person sitting in the car, were there other people, how warm was the engine?

Blood Alcohol Level Indicating Intoxication

Last, but not least, the person must be intoxicated. Although case law has determined that a .08% of alcohol indicates that a person is intoxicated, the actual Vehicle Codes do not mention any specific percentage. This means that although the accepted BAC is .08%, a person who has a lower BAC may still be charged with a DUI.

If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, let our knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyers help you. Contact our office today for a free consultation, and we can review your case and discuss strategy with you as soon as possible!

Client Reviews
I can't begin to thank Mr. Hoffman enough for his extensive efforts throughout the entire case. He went absolutely above and beyond throughout the entire process. From day one he was immediately actively pursuing ways to prevent my case from ever going to court and once that was no longer an option, actively began working on getting the case ultimately dismissed. His communication was consistent and reassuring, despite my frantic worries all the time... Micaiah Botts
My family and I simply owe our life and future to Ron Hoffman. If you are looking for a lawyer that goes above and beyond the call of duty you can't find a better lawyer than Ron. He took my case head on from the moment I called his office. I was involved in an accidental hit and run where I was unaware of the injury. Every step of the way, Ron guided me through an almost two year long investigation and court settlement process and was constantly by my side through out every crossroad... Bill Martin
Ron Hoffman and his staff were Fantastic when dealing with such a serious issue of DUI. When I first Called Ron I was very nervous and worried for my daughter and her freedom. She had a failure to appear on top of her DUI and I knew just how bad this could be. Ron was able to immediately put me at ease and gave me the confidence that there was hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. Ron was able to get the failure to appear dismissed and also no jail time for my daughter... Claude Brown
I have been working with Mr. Hoffman for over 11 years. I have seen first hand his genuine dedication to his clients, and how his experience, knowledge and passion have gotten clients fantastic results. He treats each of his clients as his only client, and takes the time to develop detailed strategies and defenses for each individual case. I have never hesitated to refer Mr. Hoffman to anyone who has asked me for a good Criminal Defense attorney. He is a fantastic attorney!... Neeta P.
I had a DUI issue recently. I have never had a problem with the law as serious as this one. I did panic a bit after and knew I had to get a lawyer to help my future. I researched the Web and read the reviews for awesome DUI Lawyers. Hiring a lawyer can be intimidating. Ron's 30 years experience and step by step guidance helped me with my case. Jonie was amazing with keeping me calm. Ron Hoffman is a great lawyer and I would refer any friends or family to him... Manuel Gomez
Ron was so accommodating and professional. With a Firm like his you wouldn't expect him to be as accessible, but he immediately returned phone calls, was easy to communicate with and was very sympathetic to my situation. He went above and beyond and was able to get a better result than I'd hoped or expected. I highly recommend Ron Hoffman and his firm. He made a difficult and anxiety fueled process bearable and made me feel safe. He is a lovely man. One does not wish to need a criminal attorney, but if you do need one, Ron's the guy to call... Teri A.
Ron and his team were the perfect pairing for what I needed taken care of. Every step of the way he was extremely helpful and informative (not his first rodeo). His work ethic and attitude were exemplary and it showed with the results of using his services. I would recommend anyone I know to give Ron a call if they need help in his realm of expertise. Many thanks Ron and associates!... Donald N.
I didn't hire a lawyer for my first DUI... What a mistake! Ronald goes above and beyond with his art and knowledge of custom strategy according to your case. lawyer of the year (every year)... Adam R.
I hate lawyers. They are hard to get a hold of, greedy and unreliable. Ron is the opposite of all these things. He deserves 6 stars, and I very much recommend him. He helped me through my case with nothing but kindness, understanding, and knowledge and eventually got it dropped. Thanks for everything Ron!... Avi Z.