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Vehicle Code 23152e DUI for Hire

California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) VC is a DUI law that applies to drivers for hire, like taxi, Lyft, or Uber drivers. Drivers who are transporting passengers for money are held to a stricter standard when it comes to their blood-alcohol level. A driver for hire with a DUI of 0.04% BAC or higher can face charges under 23152(e) VC. If you were arrested on charges of 23152(e) VC, contact a local East Bay DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC Text 

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e):  

It shall be unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. 

Who is a Passenger for Hire?  

Under the code, “passenger for hire” means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed or expected as a condition of carriage in the vehicle, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vehicle.”

Drivers who may be covered by this restriction may include: 

  • Taxi driver
  • Limo driver
  • Party bus driver
  • Lyft driver
  • Uber driver
  • Other rideshare driver

California's DUI for hire law puts a similar restriction on drivers as those with a commercial driver's license (CDL). CDL drivers of a commercial vehicle are also subject to a limit of 0.04% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Elements of the Offense

In order for the prosecutor to get a conviction for a DUI for hire, the prosecutor needs to prove every element of the case, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is any doubt that even one element is not met, then the rideshare or taxi driver should be found not guilty. 

Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC

Under the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, to prove the defendant is guilty of VC 23152(e), the state has to prove: 

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle; 
  2. When he or she drove, the defendant's blood alcohol level was 0.04 percent or more by weight; AND
  3. When he or she drove, there was a passenger for hire in the vehicle. 

Defense Strategies for a Taxi or Rideshare DUI in California 

The per se limit for a DUI for hire is half that of a regular DUI (0.04% compared to 0.08%). With such a low limit, the margin of error for getting a DUI for hire is much smaller. If the chemical breath or blood testing machine is off by just 0.01% BAC, then you could face criminal charges and loss of your job. The best way to challenge a DUI for hire may be to challenge the chemical breath and blood tests.  

Operator Error in Chemical Testing

If the person performing the chemical tests is not properly following test requirements and protocols, it may result in inaccurate test results. Proper requirements for performing chemical tests include: 

  • Observation of the test subject,
  • Limited time window,
  • Sanitation,
  • Labeling,
  • Tracking,
  • Testing, and 
  • Recording.  

You DUI defense lawyer can recover police records, review videotape footage, and use the officers testimony to identify problems with the testing that could show the jury the test results may not be as accurate as the prosecutor claims. 

Blood or Breath Test Machine Error

The police and prosecutors like to pretend that the machines are almost 100% reliable. However, these machines do make mistakes and those mistakes should not be able to put you in jail. 

If the testing devices have a history of inaccurate results, improper testing, improper maintenance, failed calibration, or were not operated properly, this may cause doubt of the accuracy of the test results. 

What Causes False-Positives in Breath and Blood Tests?

Drinking alcohol is only one of the things that can trigger positive results in a breath or blood alcohol test. Other factors that can change blood or breath test results may include: 

  • Foods,
  • Drinks,
  • Gum or mints, 
  • Mouthwash,
  • Gastrointestinal problems,
  • Medications, and
  • Medical issues. 

No Passenger in the Vehicle at the Time  

Just because a Lyft or Uber driver was over 0.04% BAC does not mean they should be charged with a DUI for hire. Conviction for a DUI with a passenger for hire requires a passenger to be in the vehicle at the time. If the driver is on their way to pick up a passenger, they would not be considered to yet have a passenger for hire.

Defense Lawyer for 23152(e) VC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

A BAC of 0.04% can come after having a couple of drinks. It only takes a minor error in the breath or blood test to cause you to be convicted of a DUI and lose your ridesharing job. East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of DUI experience, and understands the consequences of a Lyft or Uber DUI for California drivers. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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