The Law Offices of Donald A. Nobles provides the following answers to frequently asked questions regarding Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in California. If you have been arrested in the East Bay for DUI, contact our Walnut Creek offices right away for a free, initial consultation regarding how we can help you keep your license and keep a DUI conviction off your record.
Q. What are the penalties for drunk driving?
A. For a first offense, you can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail. In addition to any fine, the court imposes various assessments and surcharges which can make the DUI conviction quite costly. These penalties increase for any subsequent DUI conviction. You will also have to take alcohol education course, and you may be required to place an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Q. What happens to my driver’s license if I am arrested for DUI?
A. Your license will likely be taken from you at the time of your arrest. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will immediately move to suspend your license for four-months if this is your first DUI, or one year if it is your second. The DMV can suspend your license even if you are never tried, or tried but not convicted, in the criminal court proceeding.
You have a right to an administrative hearing before the DMV can suspend or revoke your license, but you must act quickly and request this hearing within ten days of your arrest. You have the right to be represented by an East Bay DUI lawyer at this hearing.
Q. Can I refuse to take a breath test?
A. Under California’s implied consent law, you are obliged to take a breath test when requested by the police. If you refuse, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. Compare that to a four-month suspension for blowing .08% on the breathalyzer. If you believe the officer doesn’t have the right to test, or that the testing equipment or procedure is faulty, your attorney can challenge these later and have the evidence suppressed or the case dismissed if significant errors are found.
It is important to distinguish between a breath test, blood test, or other chemical test and field sobriety tests. Field tests such as walking a straight line, tilting your head back and touching your nose with your eyes closed, or visually following a pen across your field of vision, are not covered under the theory of implied consent. You can lawfully refuse to take these tests, and in most instances you probably should.