California DUI Basics

Do you indulge in alcohol from time to time? Do you have a California driver 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 statutes can be confusing for the average person, especially if they’re not one to spend half the day researching the latest DUI laws. Even if you do locate 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 require 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 optionaland there are NO penalties for politely refusing. We recommend that you nicely say “no” to the field sobriety tests because they’re even hard for sober people to pass.

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 to answer because whatever you say will be used against you. Instead, say you respectfully decline to answer the question.

4. If you refuse a chemical test, your license will be suspended.
Under California law, if you refuse to submit to a chemical test after an arrest(blood, breath or urine test), your driver license will be automatically suspended for one year, 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 and not on DUI probation. If you refuse a chemical test after a DUI arrest, your license will be automatically suspended for one year under California’s Implied Consent Law.

7. A first DUI doesn’t necessarily mean 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.

Facing DUI charges in Orange County? If so, contact our firm to meet with a Board-Certified DUI defense specialist!

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