DUI Classifications in California Law
California law defines driving under the influence offenses under several distinct categories, each with specific legal implications.
- Standard DUI (Vehicle Code § 23152)
- Aggravated DUI (Vehicle Code § 23578)
- DUI with Prior Offenses (Vehicle Code § 23580)
- DUI with License Suspension (Vehicle Code § 14905)
- DUI Causing Injury (Vehicle Code § 23153)
- Enhanced Penalties for Refusal to Test (Vehicle Code § 23577)
- Excessive Speeding and Reckless Driving During DUI (Vehicle Code § 23582)
- Underage DUI (Vehicle Code § 23502)
- Multiple DUI Offenses (Vehicle Code § 23552)
Definition of DUI in California
In California, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have severe consequences. A DUI is typically characterized by the following:
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): It’s illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. This percentage decreases to 0.04% for those who possess a commercial driver’s license and is 0.01% for individuals under the age of 21.
DUI of Drugs: Apart from alcohol, being under the influence of drugs (whether legal, prescription, or illegal) can also result in a DUI charge if they impair your ability to drive safely.
You Only Have 10 Days to Request a DMV Hearing
If you’re arrested for DUI in California, it’s crucial to act quickly. You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV hearing. This hearing is your sole opportunity to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. Failing to request this hearing within the 10-day window results in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges. If no request is made, your license will be automatically suspended in 30 days.
Rights During a DUI Arrest
Understanding your rights during a DUI arrest is crucial:
- Right to Remain Silent: You’re not obligated to answer questions that might incriminate you. Politely inform the officer that you wish to remain silent.
- Right to Legal Representation: After being arrested, you can request to contact an attorney before answering further questions or participating in further tests.
- Right to a Chemical Test: If you are arrested for a DUI, under California’s implied consent law, you are required to submit to a breath or blood test. Refusing can result in more severe penalties, including a longer license suspension.
- Right to a DMV Hearing: If you are arrested for DUI and your BAC is above the legal limit, or if you refuse a chemical test, the arresting agency will issue an order to suspend your driver’s license. You have a limited time to request a hearing with the DMV to challenge this suspension.
- Protection from Unlawful Searches: Without your consent, a warrant, or probable cause, officers cannot search your vehicle. If they do, any evidence obtained may be deemed inadmissible in court.
- Right to Due Process: You are entitled to a fair trial and to challenge the evidence against you.
Immediate Steps After a DUI Arrest
Being arrested can be an overwhelming experience, especially for a DUI charge. Here’s what you should do immediately following a DUI arrest:
- Stay Calm and Compliant: Respond politely to law enforcement. Making a scene or becoming combative can only make your situation worse.
- Know Your Rights: While you should provide your name and basic identification details, you are not obligated to answer questions about where you were, what you drank, or any other details about your evening without a lawyer present.
- Avoid Self-Incrimination: Politely decline to perform field sobriety tests or answer any questions that might incriminate you. You may also decline a preliminary alcohol screening test unless you are under 21 or on probation for a previous DUI.
- Document the Details: As soon as you are able, write down everything you remember about the arrest – from what you had to drink to how the officer behaved. These details can be invaluable for your defense.
- Secure Legal Representation: Before any formal questioning or hearings, consult with a criminal defense attorney experienced in DUI cases. An attorney can provide guidance, ensure your rights are upheld, and offer the best possible defense strategy.