What You Need to Know About DUI/DWI
Driving under the influence is one of the most common crimes in Los Angeles; but don’t let that give you a false sense of security. Although common, these crimes are stringently prosecuted and can have ramifications that could affect you for years to come.
What Is DUIA common defense we hear is that "I only had a few drinks!" Although you may not think you've been affected, California's DUI laws do not depend on your ability to handle the alcohol, but on the amount of it in your system at the time of your arrest. The statewide legal limit is 0.08; however if you drive a commercial vehicle this drops to 0.04. If you are between 18 and 21, the legal limit is a mere 0.01, while drivers under 18 can have no trace of alcohol in their system - even from common over-the-counter medications. If you are pulled over for any legitimate reason and the officer suspects you may be intoxicated, you may be required to have a breath or blood test to determine your alcohol content. If you're above the legal limit for your category - even if only by a little - you will be arrested for a DUI.
DUI PenaltiesThe exact penalties for a DUI vary, but jail time, fines, and license suspension are always part of the sentence. Exactly how much and how long depend in part upon how well your attorney presented your case, including any potentially mitigating factors. Because DUIs stay on your record for 10 years, it's essential to get an experienced attorney involved from the very beginning - even if its only your first offense.
Below is a summary of the mandatory penalties, regardless of where the arrest took place. If you were arrested in Los Angeles county, you may also have to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle, which will prevent you from driving until you have successfully passed a breath test.
Offense Offense Type Jail Fines License Suspension
1st Misdemeanor 0 days to 6 months Up to $1,000 30 days to 1 year
2nd Misdemeanor 4 days to 1 year Up to $1,000 90 days-2 years
3rd Misdemeanor 120 days to 1 year Up to $1,000 3 years
4th Felony 16 months Up to $1,000 4 years
Order of Suspension & DMV HearingsWhen you're arrested for a DUI, your license will be immediately confiscated. However, given your need to return home, find an attorney, appear in court, and make other important arrangements, you will be given an Order of Suspension, which will be good for 30 days. After those 30 days are up, your suspension period will begin unless you can save your license in the hearing with the DMV.
Your DMV hearing is separate from your court trial and must be requested within 10 days of receiving your Order of Suspension. If you do not request your hearing, your license will automatically be suspended. Even if you do receive the hearing, whether or not the suspension is overturned or upheld has a lot to do with how you represent your case. Hiring an attorney to represent you at this hearing can be the difference between keeping your license and losing it.
Call An AttorneyIf you've been arrested on DUI charges, whether it's your first offense or your fourth, its vital to have the best representation possible to ensure your best-case scenario in the courtroom.
In California driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. If you are stopped by a police officer you can be arrested for DUI (driving under the influence). First, the officer will need to determine whether or not you are under the influence by performing one or more of several field sobriety tests. The tests can range from a walk and turn test to a more extensive test such as a blood, breath or urine test. Refusal to perform any of these tests when asked by the officer will most likely result in your immediate arrest and being booked in a county jail for DUI. A DUI charge and conviction can have dramatic affects on your future. An attorney experienced in defending people charged with driving under the influence will be able to help keep you out of jail.
Find an attorney that is committed to providing creative and zealous representations, with only their clients' best interests in mind, and promises to make every effort to obtain the best result possible.
6 Tips For Preventing DUI ChargesTip #1 - Don't drink & drive!
While this is the most obvious of all the tips, it's by far the most important. A large number of our DUI clients consumed just 2 or 3 drinks and truly believed they were sober enough to drive. Regardless of how much you've had to drink, the only definitive way to avoid a DUI charge is to not drive at all. Take our advice and call a Taxi/Uber.
Tip #2 - Keep your license & registration in an easily accessible place
When a police officer stops you, one of the first things he or she will ask for is your license and registration. If you're fumbling around trying to find them or hand the officer the wrong documents by mistake, this will be taken as a possible indicator of impairment. If possible, have your California drivers license and registration ready to give the officer by the time he approaches your window.
Tip #3 - Politely refuse to perform the roadside sobriety tests
If the officer believes you've been drinking, there are 2 types of tests you will likely be asked to perform on the side of the road. The first type are called field-side sobriety tests, which include things like walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, and checking your eyes. The second type of test is a portable breath test, which you must blow in to. Some officers will try to convince you these tests are required, but the truth is, they are completely optional and will almost never help you. Unless you've consumed absolutely no alcohol in the past 24 hours, we strongly recommend that you politely refuse to perform either of these 2 types of tests. Although you may still be arrested, without the evidence from the roadside sobriety tests, it will be much more difficult for the police to make a case against you.
Tip #4 - The Breathalyzer
Once you're arrested for a DUI, you'll be taken to the police station or mobile police unit and asked to take another breath test on the Breathalyzer machine. Up until this point, we've advised you to politely refuse to perform any sobriety tests, but whether you should refuse to blow into the Breathalyzer is a much more complicated issue. The Breathalyzer test results will be the strongest piece of evidence the police have of your guilt. However, the consequences of refusing the Breathalyzer are harsh. For one, you will automatically lose your license for a year and won't even be eligible for a limited driving privilege for at least 6 months. Furthermore, even if you refuse the breath test, the police could still get a warrant to have your blood drawn for testing. Therefore, unless you've had a prior DUI conviction in the last 10 years, which puts you at significant risk of jail time, you should probably take the Breathalyzer test.
Tip #5 - You have the right to remain silent, so use it!
From the time you're stopped to the time you're booked, the police will be asking you questions about your drinking. Anything you say to them can and will be used against you, so we do not recommend you answering any questions or volunteering any information. You should remain polite and respectful throughout the entire process, but you always have the right to remain silent, so use it!
Tip #6 - Call an attorney!