A first-time DUI offense in California may result in penalties ranging from misdemeanor probation to jail time. Offending drivers who are granted an “IID restricted license” may continue to drive in California. This requires a driver to keep an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle for four months.
Those first-time offenders who are not granted an IID restricted license may receive up to a 6-month suspension of their driver’s license unless they prevail at a California DMV hearing and are not convicted of a DUI in a California court.
A California DUI arrest typically begins at a traffic stop by a law enforcement officer. A law enforcement officer may pull a driver over for a traffic violation or because of something relating to the driver’s vehicle, such as a broken headlight. The arrest may result from the police called to the scene as the result of a traffic accident or because the driver was stopped at a DUI checkpoint. Of course, a police officer may simply notice a motorist driving erratically suggesting intoxication or impairment.
Once an officer suspects the possibility of intoxication beyond the legal limit, he or she may ask a driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests, including blowing twice into a handheld breathalyzer. An officer may also request that a driver perform an on-the-spot breath test, known as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test.
An arrest is then made depending on the officer’s observations. Officers will usually describe suspects as observed having the odor of alcoholic beverages emanating from their breath and displaying objective signs of intoxication. The law enforcement officer will then make the arrest while reading the motorist his or her rights.
After an arrest, the suspect will be asked to take a blood or breath test at the police station, jail or hospital to measure his or her blood alcohol level. While breath test readings are available immediately, blood samples are tested and analyzed at a laboratory so the results usually take a minimum of more than a few days.
Drivers are required by law to take this test and their refusal may result in a more severe penalty for DUI and a one-year suspension of their driver’s license. For most suspects arrested for misdemeanor DUI, they will be released within a few hours of arrest and booking whereas persons charged with felony DUI or involved in an accident may have to post bail.
Drunk drivers in California face a double-edged sword if accused of driving while intoxicated. Drivers who fail a blood alcohol test and have a BAC of .08 or higher may be charged with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol) and violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher).
When the police release a driver charged with DUI, the driver receives a citation to appear in court and a temporary license. Law enforcement will usually take a suspect’s California driver’s license and mail it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In contrast, drivers charged with a DUI in California who are from out of state will not physically lose their license.
John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan has represented California motorists charged with DUI for over 40 years. He is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.