Do you indulge in alcohol from time to time? Do you have a California driver’s
license? If your answer is “yes” to these two questions, it’s
important that you are familiar with California’s driving under
the influence laws.
DUI laws can get confusing, especially if you’re not the type of person
to sit in front of your PC, laptop or smartphone and spend half the day
researching the latest DUI laws. Even if you do read the state’s
DUI legislation, it can be hard to understand unless you’re a law student.
So, to make things a little easier on you, we’re going to give you
a brief overview of DUI in California – these are some basic facts
that every California driver should know!
1. Not all first DUIs mean you have to install an Ignition Interlock Device.
Most first-time DUI offenders are not required to install an
Ignition Interlock Device unless they live in one of the following pilot counties: Alameda, Los
Angeles, Sacramento, or Tulare.
2. Field sobriety tests are “optional.”
Field sobriety tests (e.g. horizontal gaze nystagmus and one-leg-stand) are roadside tests
used to give the officer probable cause to make an arrest. These tests
are optional and there are no penalties for politely refusing to take
these tests. We recommend that you do not take them.
3. You should not tell the officer if or how much you drank.
If an officer asks you if you’ve been drinking, it’s better
to resist the urge and answer, because whatever you say will be used against
you. Instead, say that you respectfully decline to answer the question.
4. If you refuse a chemical test, your license will be automatically suspended.
Under California law, if you refuse to submit to a chemical test after
an arrest (blood, breath or urine test), your driver’s license will
be automatically suspended, even if you didn’t have anything to drink.
5. You can be convicted of DUI for sitting in a parked car.
Is it possible to get a DUI, even if you weren’t driving? Yes, it
is. If the police catch you sitting in a parked car with the keys in the
ignition or nearby and you’re under the influence, it is possible
to get convicted of DUI.
6. You CAN refuse a pre-arrest PAS test.
You can refuse the “optional” preliminary alcohol screening
test (PAS), which is the roadside breathalyzer test, without suffering
any adverse consequences providing it’s
before the arrest and you are:
- 21 or older
- Not on probation for a previous DUI
However, if you are
arrested for DUI and you refuse a chemical test, then such a refusal would lead
to the automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
7. A first DUI doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go to jail.
If this is your
first DUI offense and there were no aggravating factors, such as an accident or
a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, you
may be granted probation in lieu of time behind bars. If it’s your second
or third offense within 10 years, you face up to 1 year in
The above information is only the tip of the iceberg about California DUI.
If you’re facing DUI charges in Orange County,
contact our firm to be represented by a
Board Certified DUI defense specialist!