What Should I Expect After DUI Arrest in California?
Driving under the influence (DUI) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or above is unlawful, according to California law vehicle code 23152(b). When a police officer pulls you over at a DUI checkpoint, it is obvious they must have suspected some reckless behavior on the road, such as swerving or unsafe left turn. It is unlawful for traffic policers officers to pull you over on the highway for no apparent reason. Soon after they pull you over, a DUI investigation will commence immediately to ascertain if you are under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. A DUI investigation does not always begin at DUI checkpoint. Other times, when there is a road accident, police officers who report at the accident scene may also conduct a routine DUI investigation to know if the drivers were DUI before the occurrence of the accident.
After a DUI arrest, the arresting officers will conduct some field sobriety tests and ask you to blow a breathalyzer to test the level of alcohol amount in your breath vapor. Some of these sobriety tests conducted at the DUI checkpoint are not always accurate. Therefore, you may have to go to the police station for another more accurate chemical test of your urine or blood to determine if you were DUI of alcohol above the legal limit.
Failure to take the chemical test may be an aggravating factor for the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) to suspend your driving license and lead to more severe DUI criminal penalties. Whether you’ve taken the chemical test or not, there is an automatic suspension of your driving license for 30 days.
However, in California, you can always apply for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), which will enable you to continue driving after suspension of your license. Alternatively, you can also file a hearing with the DMV to contest your driving license’s automatic suspension within ten days after a DUI arrest. When you receive a DUI charge in California, you will face two separate legal proceedings:
Both legal proceedings will have a negative and unbearable impact on your life if found guilty of the alleged DUI offense. Therefore, in both legal proceedings, it’s always advisable to retain a reliable DUI attorney for guidance in making informed decisions and for legal representation on the alleged charges regardless of whether it is your first DUI arrest or not.
Crucial Things You Should Consider Doing After DUI Arrest in California
You may want to do a few things after a DUI arrest. If you understand the impact of the charges on your criminal record. Apart from the criminal record, even suspension of your driving license by the DMV carries painful consequences, which will significantly affect your day to day life. Here are a few crucial things you can do after a DUI arrest to preserve California’s legal rights and interest:
Contact a Reliable DUI Attorney
Considering the complexity of DUI cases and the possible consequences of the offense in California, it would be in your best interest to consult with a DUI attorney for a comprehensive evaluation of your case soon after an arrest. Your DUI attorney will use the police report and maintenance reports of the instrument they used to validate your BAC test results to create a legal defense to use during the DMV and the court hearing. It’s upon you to find a reliable DUI attorney with significant experience in DUI matters in California for thorough legal representation. Avoid settling for mediocre services or services of professionals who are new in this career. Most of these legal proceedings require excellent knowledge of the law and how the court works, and you need an attorney with experience.
Request a DMV Hearing
Soon after the arresting officer releases you, he/she will give you a temporary driving license, which is pink in color that you will use for thirty days before the formal suspension of your driving license by the DMV. However, you can always request a DMV hearing within ten days after an arrest to safeguard your driving license and avoid this suspension if your DUI arrest is alcohol-related.
A driving license suspension will affect your day-to-day activities, especially if you are a busy person who often needs to move around. From 2019, the DMV would require most drivers to install the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle as a condition for driving with a suspended license depending on the driver's DUI records. An ignition interlock device is another type of breathalyzer gadget about the size of your cell phone, which is installed near the steering wheel area to prevent the car from ignition if there is alcohol in your breath. The experience of having an IID in your car is annoying and shameful. That’s why the DUI attorney you choose should fight for you aggressively during the DMV hearing to retain your driving license.
Fight the Court Case
A DUI charge court process is trickier than the DMV hearings because the evidence your DUI attorney will need to prove your innocence to a judge must be above a reasonable doubt. Your DUI attorney can use the evidence he/she used during the DMV hearing as a legal defense during the court’s DUI trial. If your BAC level exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%, the prosecutor might choose to charge your case as two separate misdemeanor offenses:
- Violations of California vehicle code 23152(a), which makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol even if the BAC level is below 0.08%
- Violation of California vehicle code 23152(b) makes it a crime to DUI with a BAC level of 0.08% or above. A person driving with BAC exceeding 0.08% is automatically guilty for DUI in California.
The penalties the judge will impose for a DUI offense depend on your criminal history, including DUI criminal records and whether there was an accident leading to injuries/death before the arrest. Typically, a DUI charge for the first time DUI misdemeanor offense carries the following penalties in California:
- Six months suspension of your driving license
- Mandatory installation of IID in your vehicle
- Attend a DUI school
- Six months confinement in the county jail
- A maximum fine amounting up to $1,000
- A probation sentence of three to five years
In addition to the above DUI penalties, a conviction can lead to higher car insurance rates, which will remain elevated for about seven years as long as you have the DUI charge on your driving record. Your attorney can fight these charges on your behalf even if you do not attend the court hearing by raising the following legal defense arguments:
- The chemical devices used to test the presence of alcohol in your breath, blood, or urine were not adequately maintained or faulty.
- You were not driving during the time of the arrest.
- The police officer(s) who administered field sobriety tests during DUI investigation gave improper directions.
- The police had no apparent reason for pulling you over.
- There was chemical contamination of your breath tests, which is possibly due to factors such as mouth alcohol triggered by belching or mouthwash.
- The police officers who arrested you conducted an unlawful search on your vehicle.
- The collection and storage of your blood used for validating your BAC level was inaccurate.
Regardless of your type of DUI charge, it’s wise to seek assistance from a DUI attorney within your location as soon as possible after an arrest when the evidence is still fresh for adequate preparation of a viable legal defense against the charges.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
The Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel is a reputable DUI defense firm with DUI experts who understand California DUI laws well and the consequences of a DUI conviction out of their many years of experience handling different DUI cases. If you’re in San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles County, we invite you to contact our office at 818-582-2350 to know what to do when you are arrested for any DUI offense. Our excellent DUI attorneys will advise you on the best-informed decision to make during this challenging time and offer you the legal representation you need to avoid conviction or negotiate lesser penalties.