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FAQs About Driving Under the Influence

If this is your first time being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you certainly have questions. To help you better understand a California DUI, we are providing a series of frequently asked questions, along with their answers below. For further information, feel free to contact our DUI defense firm directly for assistance.

Is a DUI a misdemeanor?
Most DUIs are misdemeanor offenses; however, a fourth DUI within a 10-year-period, or a DUI that involves serious bodily injury or death is a felony.

Is a DUI accident (with property damage only) a felony?
Generally, if the DUI only involved property damage and no one was injured, it’s prosecuted as a misdemeanor. If someone was seriously injured in a DUI accident, it would likely be charged as a felony.

Will I go to jail for a first DUI?
It depends on the facts of the case and your criminal history. If it’s a client’s first DUI with no aggravating factors (e.g. not a high BAC, no accident or injuries), we can often get the prosecutor to agree to probation and no jail time.

Do I have to take the field sobriety tests?
Unlike the chemical tests (blood, breath and urine), there is no penalty for politely refusing to take the field sobriety tests. We do NOT recommend taking these roadside tests because they are used to gain probable cause to make a DUI arrest, and any evidence from the tests will be used against you in court.

Do I have to take the pre-arrest PAS test?
If you are 21 or older and not on DUI probation, you can politely decline to take the pre-arrest preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test (the roadside breathalyzer) without any consequence. However, if you are arrested for DUI and refuse to take a breath test thereafter, your license will be suspended automatically for one year regardless if you were drinking.

How long will a DUI show up on my driving record?
If you are convicted of DUI, it will show up on your driving record for 10 years.

Can a teen face the same DUI consequences as an adult?
If a teenager is found guilty of driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, then yes, he or she can face the same consequences as an adult, including jail time.

Can I get a DUI for prescription drugs?
Yes, you can! It’s against the law to drive a vehicle under the influence of any drug, including prescription medication. So, if the state can prove that your driving ability was impaired by prescription medication, you can be charged with DUI under VC 23152(f).

Looking for an Orange County DUI attorney? Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation with a board certified DUI defense specialist!