by Richard D. Freiman on Oct. 28, 2018

Criminal Criminal  DUI-DWI Motor Vehicle  Traffic 

Summary: California DUI Law

Let me start by stating that the only way to avoid getting arrested for DUI and not causing injury or death to an innocent victim or victims or yourself, is not to drink and drive. Let me repeat that, don’t drink and drive.

However, people do drink and drive. Very few people drive after they have had too much to drink and if they feel it’s not safe, but many times people do feel it’s safe to drive when it isn’t. 

You may be at a party, a business lunch, or a family celebration, and have a few beers, some wine, or other alcoholic beverages. You may feel and appear to be fine, no one around you thinks you shouldn’t drive, so you go ahead and get in your car.

You start the engine and drive, still feeling like you’re in complete control, and the next thing you know, you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer.

The officer appears more serious than for a usual traffic ticket situation, and you’re wondering what you did wrong. The officer asks you to get out of the car. Get out of the car, you think, for what?

The officer will be paying close attention to your breath, your eyes, to determine whether they are bloodshot, the way you speak, to determine if you’re slurring your words, and to other physical manifestations of the effects of drinking.

And before you know it, you’ve been arrested for DUI.

The California Vehicle Code states as pertinent:

23152(a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle. 

(b) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

Under Section 23152 (a) “under the influence” basically means that due to your drinking your physical and mental abilities are impaired and you no longer have the ability to drive with the same caution as a prudent ordinary sober person under the same or similar circumstances.

Under Section 23152 (b), you are prohibited from driving, if you have 0.08% of alcohol by weight, in your blood. You break the law simply by having that blood alcohol level or higher. 

Once lawfully arrested (the officer had “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over and “probable cause” to arrest you), under Vehicle Code Section 23612, you are required to submit to a chemical test of your blood alcohol level. 

The testing should be administered under the direction the officer who arrested you who has “reasonable cause” to believe that you were driving under the influence. The officer has to inform you that your failure to submit to or complete a chemical test will lead to the suspension of your driver’s license for one year (for a first offense).

When you are arrested, the officer will take your driver’s license. The officer will give a temporary license that is good for 30 days, and a notice that your license will be suspended in 30 days.

Once you get the notice, you have 10 days to request a DMV Hearing regarding the suspension of your license. Without the hearing, your license will be suspended for four months, and under certain conditions, even longer.

The maximum penalties for a first offense DUI under either or both of the Vehicle Code sections stated above can include: 6 months in the county jail; penalties and fines; a license suspension of 6 months (under certain conditions, longer); impoundment of your car for 30 days; and the attachment of an “interlock ignition” device to your car that won’t allow you to start the engine if it detects alcohol in your breath.

The penalties for a second and third conviction for DUI are far more severe.

If you are arrested for DUI, like any other criminal case, you are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of every element of the alleged offense as stated in the statute. It is important that you contact an attorney immediately to protect and preserve your rights and also make sure that you schedule the DMV Hearing within the 10 day period.

Your attorney can plea bargain with the prosecutor for the chance to plead guilty to a lesser offense or for less severe penalties for DUI. However, any plea agreement is subject to approval by the court.

The information is this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute nor is it intended to constitute legal advice.

For a free consultation:

Contact Richard D. Freiman at (310) 917-1021 or

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