Your Legal Rights

Chances are that if you have arrived at this page, you or someone you know is facing DUI charges. With that in mind, knowledge is power and we want to advise you of the rights you have under the California laws with regard to a DUI arrest.

California refers to a DUI as “driving” or being in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle while you are “impaired to the slightest degree” by alcohol or drugs. Simply put, that means sitting in your parked vehicle with the engine running could constitute “actual physical control” and you could  face DUI charges. So, if you think it is merely drunk driving, you have to understand that it is not.

Although the process is far from simple, there are some easy steps that will be instrumental toward your defense if you are stopped by the police because of suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

  • Be cordial and polite
  • Do not answer any questions or admit to anything
  • If asked to get out of the car, do so
  • Do not agree to a field sobriety test (coordination or eye test)
  • Ask to contact your attorney
  • After submitting to a blood test ask for a sample of the blood for your own independent testing

California is known to be one of the strictest states when it comes to DUI convictions, so it is important to be totally aware of your constitutional rights. One of the most important is the right not to talk about the case to the police. That is to insure that you give them nothing they can use later in prosecuting your case. Even admitting to “only” drinking a few drinks is an admission, and can cause a problem for your DUI lawyer when he is defending you.

No matter when you are arrested, most DUI attorneys are available. It is helpful to speak to your attorney before making the decision to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test. In most first offense cases, your attorney will advise you to take the test since refusal brings harsh penalties from the Motor Vehicle Division, like a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Knowing your options not only comes from your knowledge but also the expertise of the DUI attorney you choose.

The possible penalties for a first time DUI offender are usually based upon many factors, including the alcohol level, accident, injuries and prior DUI convictions.  These costly charges begin at $2500-4500.  The other penalties imposed are a minimum of 47 hours and a maximum of 6 months in jail, license suspension, attendance at a DUI school and the installation by a professional of an ignition interlock device with a cost incurred by you.

It will be very helpful to your DUI attorney that you document the entire process from the time you got into your automobile through the arrest. This will assist your defense team in investigating whether any of your legal rights were violated. Some questions your DUI team will need to know are:

  • Was there a sufficient reason for the stopping of your vehicle? (If the officer observed your automobile swerving or you did not stop at a red light these are considered “probable cause.” If you just walked out of the bar and got into your vehicle but did not start driving, that is not.
  • What was the reason you were given for the arrest?
  • Were you advised that it was not mandatory to submit to a roadside sobriety test?
  • Were you advised of the consequences of refusal to submit to a breath or blood test of your alcohol level?
  • Did you request a sample of your blood for an independent test?
  • Were you read your Miranda rights upon the arrest?
  • Did you request a hearing with the Motor Vehicle Department?

We live in a society that gives us the freedom to choose to drive and drink. It is your right. The best advice any DUI attorney can give you is not to drive after drinking. If you are beyond that advice and you have been pulled over, it is important that you show respect to the officer and not deal with him or her belligerently. Always ask to speak to your attorney and remember not to take any field sobriety tests. If you are arrested, always agree to take a blood test and request a sample for independent testing.