DUI ATTORNEY VENTURA
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in California
In California in 2007, over 200,000 people were arrested for Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol, also known as a “DUI” offense. A DUI offense can result in serious and severe penalties that may have a significant impact on your day-to-day life; as a result, it is critical that you understand what rights you have when suspected of driving under the influence.
PAS and Chemical Blood or Breath Tests
If a police officer pulls you over, the officer may ask you to breathe into a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device to detect the blood alcohol content of your breath. If you are 21 years of age or older, you can refuse to breathe into this device. However, if you are under the age of 21 or on probation for a prior DUI conviction, you must submit to the PAS test or face suspension of driving privileges for up to one year, or revocation for up to three years.
Although you can refuse the PAS if you are 21 or older, be aware that if you do refuse, the California Vehicle Code allows the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your driving privileges for a year, or revoke them for two years if your refusal occurred within a decade of a previous DUI conviction. If you are 21 or older and do submit to the PAS, you are considered to be driving illegally if your blood alcohol level is .08 or higher. If you are under 21 or on probation for a previous DUI charge, your blood alcohol level may not exceed .01.
In California, a person who has been lawfully arrested for a DUI offense is deemed to have given his or her implied consent to have his or her blood, breath, or urine chemically tested for alcohol content. Accordingly, if you are arrested and refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, you face strict consequences. Under California Vehicle Code section 23612, if a person refuses to submit to a breath test, it may result in a longer suspension of the person’s driving privileges and mandatory jail time if that person is later convicted. Additionally, the fact that you refused a chemical test can be used against you at trial.
DMV Administrative Hearing Process
If you are arrested for a DUI, the arresting officer will issue you an Order of Suspension/Revocation, which serves as a temporary driver’s license for a 30 day period, at the end of which your license will be suspended. The DMV allows you to request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension of your license, and also allows you to request to see the DMV’s evidence prior to the hearing.
You must request an administrative hearing within 10 days of your arrest or you forfeit your right to a hearing. If you do not request a hearing, your license will be suspended for four months for a first-time DUI offense.
If you are charged with a DUI, consult with an attorney before you decide to plead guilty. If you are convicted, you may face jail time, substantial fines, probation, or driver’s license suspension or revocation. There are also adverse consequences that can result from a DUI conviction, such as increased car insurance rates and potential difficulty in getting hired or continuing in your current profession. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a guilty plea to a DUI charge may also affect your immigration status.