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FAQ - Driving Under the Influence

If the police pull me over and ask if I had been drinking, what should I say?

By law, you are not required to make a statement or answer any questions that could incriminate you.  If you tell the officer that you have been drinking and you are then arrested for DUI, your statement will be used against you.

I've just been arrested for DUI. What now?

California law requires the arresting officer to immediately forward to the Department of Motor Vehicles a copy of a completed Notice of Suspension or Revocation, any driver’s license seized, and the sworn officer’s report.  The DMV will then conduct a review.  If the suspension or revocation is upheld following the DMV administrative review process, the driver will be entitled to a hearing before a DMV hearing officer to contest the suspension or revocation.  A DMV HEARING IS AVAILABLE ONLY IF A REQUEST FOR A HEARING IS MADE WITHIN TEN (10) DAYS OF THE DUI ARREST.

For how long will DMV suspend my driver’s license?

If you are 21 years of age or older, the result of your blood, breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test, showed 0.08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or more, and you were not successful at the DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing:

  •  • A first offense will result in a 4-month suspension.
  •  • A second or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 1-year suspension.

If you are under 21 year of age, took a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test and results showed 0.01% BAC or more, your driving privilege will be suspended for 1 year.

Can I get a restricted license to go to and from school and work?

Maybe.  You may apply for a restricted license at any DMV field office.  However, the DMV will only grant a restricted license once a 30-day “hard suspension” has passed.  In addition, the person requesting the restricted license must not have had a DUI in the last 10 years.

Can my case be dismissed if the officer did not read me my rights?

Probably not. T his is a common misconception.  Miranda warnings are only necessary for custodial interrogations.  That is, you must be in custody, and the officer must be asking you about the crime they suspect you of committing.  If those two things happened and you weren’t first given a Miranda warning, then whatever you said can be suppressed at trial - not allowed as evidence.  That being said, the United States Supreme Court has held that a traffic stop is not considered custody and normally doesn’t trigger the Miranda protections, so the officer is not required to recite Miranda before asking if you had anything to drink.

What are the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol?

Many different factors affect each individual case, so there is no one simple answer.  While each county differs with respect to DUI penalties, generally a first offense (with no “enhancements”) will include:

  •  •  A fine between $1,500 to $2,000,
  •  •  3, 6, or 9 months of enrollment and attendance in a DUI class,
  •  •  Probation up to three years,
  •  •  A jail sentence of 4 days to 6 months,
  •  •  90 day license suspension (Note: this is in addition to the DMV suspension you may receive).  If the DMV suspension is over before the criminal case is over, the DMV might additionally suspend the license when it receives the abstract of judgment.

Second and subsequent offenses will trigger longer jail terms and longer license suspensions or revocations.  Additional penalties can include community service, AA meetings, and ignition interlock devices.

What if I already have a conviction for DUI on my record?

California has enhanced penalties for individuals considered to be "repeat offenders."  Multiple DUI convictions eventually can result in a felony charge.  It’s critical that you seek legal representation at once if you have an earlier conviction for the offense on record.



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