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California DUI Frequently Asked Questions

The skilled Southern California drunk driving defense lawyers at Shouse Law Group have years of experience defending the legal rights of clients who have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Southern California, it is important to hire aggressive legal representation right away, because you have a lot at stake. Our DUI defense attorneys have a thorough understanding of all relevant California DUI laws, as well as a variety of drunk driving defenses. Contact a Los Angeles drunk driving defense attorney at Shouse Law Group to discuss your case today.

What are some signs that law enforcement officers look for when suspecting that a driver is under the influence of alcohol?

Some signs that an officer looks for when they think that the driver may be drunk include: making wide turns, not staying in one lane, swerving, weaving, driving the wrong way down a one way street, driving with headlights off at night, following other vehicles too closely, stopping for no reason, making illegal turns, signaling one direction and turning the other, driving more than 10mph below the speed limit, quick acceleration, quick deceleration, and drifting.

What are some signs that may lead an officer to think that a driver is under the influence of alcohol?

There are a variety of symptoms of intoxication, which may include: smell of alcohol on breath, slurred speech, red or bloodshot eyes, swaying or unsteadiness, poor fine motor skills, incapable of following directions, displaying an inappropriate attitude, appearing disorderly, poor comprehension of what the officer is saying, and stumbling or difficulty walking. Although these may be signs of intoxication that is not the only reason that a person may exhibit these symptoms.

If I am pulled over by an officer and asked if I have been drinking alcohol, what should I do?

By law, you do not have to inform a law enforcement officer as to whether or not you have been drinking alcohol. If you do answer, there is a chance that you may incriminate yourself. You should tell the officer that you would like to speak to your lawyer, and then answer no other questions.

Can I speak to an attorney prior to submitting to a field sobriety test?

Unfortunately, no. In California, you may not contact a lawyer before taking a urine, blood, or alcohol test.

If I choose not to submit to a chemical test what are the consequences?

If you refuse to take a chemical test (blood, urine, or breath) for a suspected DUI in California there are severe consequences, including the suspension of your driver's license for one year and additional jail time.

What is a field sobriety test?

A field sobriety test is a test used to assist an officer in determining if a person is intoxicated. The officer will typically ask the suspected drunk driver to perform between three to five tests, which involve the suspect's coordination, alertness, balance, and ability to follow directions. Some common field sobriety tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, recitation of the alphabet, the Rhomberg test, the divided attention test, and the stationary balance test.

If an officer pulls me over and asks me to take a field sobriety test, what should I do?

If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you are not legally required to take a field sobriety test. You have the choice of submitting to the test, which in some cases the results may be used against you, or you may politely refuse to take the test.

What happens if the police officer did not give me a Miranda warning?

If the police officer did not give you a Miranda warning the prosecution will most likely not be able to use any of your answers to the officer's questions against you.

Am I allowed to choose which chemical test I submit to? If so, which is the best choice?

In the State of California you may choose between a blood test, breathalyzer test, and a urine test. In most cases a blood test is the most accurate at determining your BAC, or blood alcohol content. Therefore if you are certain that you are sober it would be a wise decision to choose to submit to a blood test. Breathalyzer tests are not 100% accurate and the results of these tests may not be saved. Therefore many results of breathalyzer tests are disputed at a later date. In California a urine test is a last resort, and only used when blood or breath test are unavailable or unable to be used by the suspect.

After I was pulled over and submitted to a breathalyzer test the officer took my license and gave me a notice of suspension? Is that legal?

Yes. In the State of California if you are caught driving with a BAC of 0.08% your driver's license can and will be suspended immediately and taken away. If your license is suspended, you have only ten days to request a DMV hearing regarding the suspension and other important driving matters.

I was arrested for driving under the influence, so why am I being charged with committing two crimes?

In California, along with being charged with a DUI, you may also be charged with a per se offense for driving with a BAC over the legal limit. Each of these acts is a violation of the law and each is a crime for which an individual can be convicted.

What is a sentence enhancement in a drunk driving case?

A sentence enhancement is a factor that may result in increased penalties and punishments. Some factors that may lead to a sentence enhancement include previous DUI convictions; if there was a child in the vehicle at the time of the arrest; if your BAC was over 0.20%; if you refused to submit to a chemical test; if you were under the legal drinking age of 21 at the time of the arrest; and if you were speeding more than 20mph above the speed limit.

What types of defenses are available in DUI cases?

There are a variety of defenses that a qualified and experienced DUI defense attorney may choose from when representing a client who has been accused for driving under the influence.

If I have been arrested for a DUI, am I allowed to represent myself?

Yes, you are allowed to represent yourself if you have been arrested for a DUI, but it is not recommended. This area of the law is very complicated and you are facing serious repercussions, which is why it is a good idea to hire an experienced and aggressive drunk driving defense attorney to represent you. With the representation of a DUI attorney at Shouse Law Group you can be assured that you are receiving accurate legal advice from an experienced professional.

If I am convicted of a DUI in California, what will my punishment be?

If you are convicted of a DUI in California, your license will likely be restricted or suspended, you will most likely have to pay a monetary fine, you may have to attend mandatory DUI classes, and you will be put on probation. There is a chance that you will have to spend time in jail, perform community service, and attend alcohol abuse classes as well.

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The police arrested you for DUI. You gave a blood or a breath sample. The DUI officer confiscated you drivers license. The police released you with a notice to appear in court in a few weeks. Where do you go from here? Our lawyers are here to guide you step by step.