California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

709. Driving Under the Influence (Veh. Code, §§ 23152, 23153)

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709.Driving Under the Influence (Veh. Code, §§ 23152, 23153)
The statute just read to you uses the term “under the influence.” A
driver is not necessarily “under the influence” just because he or she
has consumed some alcohol [or drugs]. A driver is “under the influence”
when he or she has consumed an amount of alcohol [or drugs] that
impairs his or her ability to drive in a reasonably careful manner.
New September 2003
Directions for Use
This instruction is designed to supplement a negligence per se instruction on
driving under the influence.
The presumption of intoxication based on a 0.08 blood level applies to criminal
prosecutions only. There is no statutory or case authority supporting the conclusion
that the presumption applies in civil cases. (Hyatt v. Sierra Boat Co. (1978) 79
Cal.App.3d 325, 334 [145 Cal.Rptr. 47].)
For a definition of “drug,” see Vehicle Code section 312: “The term ‘drug’ means
any substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which could so
affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an
appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinarily
prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care,
would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions.”
Sources and Authority
• Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. Vehicle Code sections
23152(a), 23153(a).
• “All of the decided cases on the subject recognize that it is negligence as a
matter of law to drive a vehicle upon a public highway while in an intoxicated
condition.” (Zamucen v. Crocker (1957) 149 Cal.App.2d 312, 316 [308 P.2d
384], internal citations omitted.)
• The term “under the influence” was first defined in People v. Dingle (1922) 56
Cal.App. 445, 449 [205 P. 705], as follows: “[I]f intoxicating liquor has so far
affected the nervous system, brain, or muscles of the driver of an automobile as
to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to operate his car in the manner
that an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in the full possession of his
faculties, using reasonable care, would operate or drive a similar vehicle under
like conditions, then such driver is ‘under the influence of intoxicating liquor’
within the meaning of the statute.”
• “One is not necessarily under the influence of intoxicating liquor as the result of
taking one or more drinks. The circumstances and effect must be considered;
whether or not a person was under the influence of intoxicating liquor at a
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certain time is a question of fact for the jury to decide.” (Pittman v. Boiven
(1967) 249 Cal.App.2d 207, 217 [57 Cal.Rptr. 319].)
• Driving while “under the influence” under Vehicle Code sections 23152 and
23153 is not the same as “being under the influence” of a controlled substance
under Health and Safety Code section 11550. Under the Vehicle Code
provisions, “the defendant’s ability to drive must actually be impaired,” while
the Health and Safety Code provision is violated as soon as the influence is
present “in any detectable manner.” (People v. Enriquez (1996) 42 Cal.App.4th
661, 665 [49 Cal.Rptr.2d 710].)
• Courts have also distinguished the “under the influence” standard from the
“obvious intoxication” standard used in Business and Professions Code section
25602.1. (Jones v. Toyota Motor Co. (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 364, 368 [243
Cal.Rptr. 611]: “ ‘Under the influence’ is defined by a person’s capability to
drive safely, whereas ‘obvious intoxication’ is defined by a person’s
appearance.”)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 883, 884, 886
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 4.25
2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, § 20.02[3][b] (Matthew
Bender)
2 California Civil Practice: Torts § 25:28 (Thomson Reuters)
MOTOR VEHICLES AND HIGHWAY SAFETY CACI No. 709
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