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Orange County DUI Basics


Do you indulge in alcohol from time to time? Do you have a California driver’s license? If your answer is “yes” to these 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 spend half the day researching the latest DUI laws. Even if you do read the state’s DUI legislation under Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code, 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 jail.

8. A drug-related DUI or felony DUI can lead to deportation.
While most DUIs will not affect immigration status, a drug-related DUI or a felony DUI involving serious bodily injuries or death can trigger removal proceedings.

9. Professional licenses can be DENIED because of a DUI.
Unfortunately, a DUI conviction, especially a recent one, can lead to the denial of many types of professional licenses.

10. A DUI can bar you from entering Canada.
Generally, a DUI conviction, even a misdemeanor DUI, can bar you from entering Canada for a solid 10 years.

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!