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California DUI FAQs

Top Rated Los Angeles DUI Attorney

What is DUI?

DUI, or driving under the influence, is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, or while under the influence of legal or illegal drugs that impair your driving ability.

Who can be stopped for DUI?

Anyone can be arrested for DUI, regardless of the original reason that the police officer stopped the car. In general, a police officer has to have probable cause to stop a vehicle, meaning the officer must identify a traffic violation, vehicle equipment safety violation, or pattern of suspicious driving in order to stop the car. The exception is DUI checkpoints, where all motorists may be stopped and assessed for DUI without probable cause.

What factors are considered possible indications of DUI?

In addition to suspicious driving patterns, a smell of alcohol, slurred speech, red, bloodshot, or watery eyes, difficulty understanding questions, fumbling with your license and registration, and the presence of any alcohol containers, drugs, or drug paraphernalia are all factors that will make a police officer suspect you of DUI.

What should I do if I’m stopped for DUI?

Be polite and courteous to the police, but know that the law protects you from incriminating yourself. So if the police officer asks whether you’ve been drinking, you don’t have to admit it. You don’t want to lie either—your best bet is to say you want to speak to an attorney before answering any questions.

Do I have to take a field sobriety test?

No, there is no legal penalty for refusing to take a field sobriety test. You should definitely not take the test if you think you might fail, as this would only serve to create more evidence against you.

Do I have to take a PAS test?

No, you do not have to take a PAS (handheld breathalyzer) test unless you are under 21 or on probation for a previous DUI. However, if you refuse the test you can still be arrested and taken to the police station, where you will have to take a blood or breath test.

Are there penalties for avoiding a DUI checkpoint?

Read more about California DUI Penalties here... The act of avoiding a DUI checkpoint alone is not considered grounds for a police officer to stop you. However, if you display impaired driving patterns or commit a traffic violation in the process of avoiding the checkpoint, you can be stopped and assessed for DUI.

Can the police officer take my license?

State law in California gives police the authority to take your drivers license and issue you a notice of suspension if you fail a chemical test. Many people find this surprising because in effect a penalty is being assessed before you are proven guilty in court.

Do I automatically get a DMV hearing regarding my license suspension?

No. If you do not contact the DMV within 10 days of your DUI arrest, you will forfeit your right to a hearing and you will lose the opportunity to have your suspended license reinstated. It is highly recommended that you contact a DUI defense attorney in southern California to assist you with the process of requesting your DMV hearing and to represent you during this hearing.

What are the penalties for DUI?

The penalties for a DUI conviction will vary according to the particulars of your case. At minimum, you can expect:

  • DMV license suspension
  • A fine of up to $1,700
  • 3, 6, 9 or months of DUI class
  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • 90 day license restriction
  • 4 days to 6 months in jail

If your DUI led to an accident causing death or injury, or if you are a repeat offender, you will be subject to additional penalties. Sentencing enhancements may also apply if you are under 21, had a blood alcohol concentration over .20, had a child with you in the vehicle, or were driving 20mph over the speed limit. Your southern California DUI defense attorney can explain the penalties at stake in your case to you in detail.

How can a DUI defense attorney help?

A DUI defense attorney in southern California can help you defend your rights in a DUI case. Unlike a general attorney, a DUI defense attorney like Dan E. Chambers has specific experience in the technical aspects of DUI cases and knows how to successfully challenge the accuracy of field sobriety tests, blood tests, and breathalyzer tests through the use of hard evidence and expert witnesses. If the evidence against you is very strong, your attorney can still help by negotiating reduced penalties and sentences.