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California DUI Laws

Anyone in Los Angeles, Long Beach, or any city in the state of California who has been arrested for driving under the influence may not be familiar with the DUI laws in California. We have provided information below that will be helpful in understanding these laws.

Basically, there are two drunk driving laws which can be found in Vehicle Code section 23152, sections (a) and (b).

According to Vehicle Code section 23152 (a), driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a misdemeanor offense. 23152 (b) states that it is a misdemeanor to operate a vehicle with an alcohol level of .08% or more in your blood.

Felony DUI may be charged in situations where someone is injured due to operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. In addition, an individual may be charged with vehicular manslaughter if a death occurs as the result of drunk driving. Information on felony DUI may be found in Vehicle Code section 23153.

Your Legal Rights

Every individual has certain legal rights; unfortunately, these rights are frequently violated by police. These rights include:

  • In order for you to be pulled over or stopped by police, detained, or arrested, there must be "probable cause." This means police must have reasonable grounds and not act merely on suspicion.
  • Police should advise you that your are not required by law to submit to a portable field breath test or field sobriety tests.
  • Police must advise you of your constitutional rights after you have been arrested; this is also known as the "Miranda" warning. You must be advised of these rights prior to any further questioning by police.
  • You have a choice between having a breath or blood test performed in order to determine blood alcohol content; police must offer you this choice. You have the right to refuse this testing, however police must advise you of the possible legal consequences in regards to "implied consent."
  • If you are given a breath test at the police station, be aware that these breath samples are not saved; therefore you must be given an opportunity to obtain a blood sample which will be used for independent testing by your defense lawyer.

It is important to note that in the majority of cases, defendants are charged with both 23152 (a) and (b) offenses. Under California law, a defendant may be found guilty of both offenses, however the punishment is identical for both so in essence you will only face punishment for one offense.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

The basic BAC limit for those who are adults is the same as in every state in the U.S., 0.08 percent. However, California also has a Zero Tolerance BAC limit for individuals who are underage, which is 0.02 percent. Individuals who have an "aggravated" BAC limit of 0.16 percent (twice the legal limit) or more may face enhanced penalties.

Common penalties for those who are convicted of driving under the influence include driver's license suspension or revocation, depending on whether it is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense. An individual's license may be suspended or revoked for six months, two years, or up to 10 years depending on the offense. Additionally, those found guilty may face mandatory alcohol education, assessment, and treatment and possible confiscation of their vehicle. You may also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle; this is mandatory for a 3rd DUI offense.

For more information regarding the DUI laws in California, contact The Justice Firm at 310-914-2444.

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