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Basics of a California DUI

DUI is short for Driving Under the Influence. While each state has enacted its own DUI or DWI laws, sentencing and penalties, all 50 states made it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%. To be arrested for DUI in Orange County or anywhere else in California, it comes down to the following criteria:

  • You were driving or you were in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. This typically means you were in the front seat with the keys nearby or in the ignition. The engine does not have to be running.
  • You consumed either alcoholic beverages or drugs, or a combination of both. For the purposes of DUI, prescription drugs are included. The police have different ways to tell if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including field sobriety tests, blood tests, breath tests, and urine tests.

DUI Based on Your BAC

As we mentioned above, it’s illegal in all states to drive with a BAC of .08% or more. Even if you’re not “visibly” drunk and you didn’t break a traffic law, you can still get a DUI as long as your BAC registers .08% or above, especially if you’re pulled over at a DUI Checkpoint. For commercial drivers in California, the limit is just .04%.

The police measure drivers’ BAC through breath tests, blood tests, and occasionally through urine tests. If you refuse one of these chemical tests, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for one year whether you were drinking or not.

DUI with a Low BAC

A lot of California drivers think that as long as their BAC is below the legal limit, they’re fine to drive, but that’s not the case. You can get a DUI with a low BAC; you can also get a DUI if you’re driving under the influence of drugs, including lawfully prescribed medications. All the state has to do is prove that your ability to drive safely was “impaired” by drugs or alcohol.

If you’re pulled over, you’ll be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. You’ve probably seen these on TV before – the roadside tests. You are not legally required to perform these tests, which are often recorded on the patrol car’s dash cam, or on the officer’s body cam. If you’re ever asked to do these tests, our advice is to politely refuse since there are no consequences for declining them.

Penalties for a First DUI

The penalties for a first DUI in California, include:

  • 1 to 5 years’ DUI probation
  • DUI School (3 to 6 months)
  • Up to $1,500 in fines
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to 4-month license suspension

Facing DUI charges in Orange Count? Contact our firm to set up a free consultation with the DUI Queen! Attorney Landry is Board-Certified in DUI defense and ready to defend you!