Drunk driving charges can lead to very serious penalties. California has some of the strictest laws for impaired driving. Anyone who’s planning on going out for a few drinks should make sure they have a reliable way home so they don’t have to take the chance of driving themselves home.
Police officers usually watch closely for signs of drunk drivers. They’re likely to pull over any driver that’s displaying some common signs of drunk driving. The officer will try to determine what’s going on with the driver. This can entail talking to them, conducting a field sobriety test or administering a breath test.
#1: BAC limits vary
Many people focus on .08% as the limit for drunk driving, but this isn’t the only limit in California. Drivers who have a .16% can face an aggravated charge. Underage drivers have a .02% limit and commercial drivers have a .04% limit.
#2: Some penalties are mandatory
California law has some minimum penalties for people who are convicted of drunk driving. On a first offense, a license suspension of 6 months and mandatory alcohol education, assessment and treatment is required. The license suspension term increases for each drunk driving conviction after the first.
#3: Implied consent applies
Implied consent is a concept that means that anyone who has a driver’s license has agreed to chemical testing for alcohol. Failure to comply when an officer wants a breath test can result in automatic driver’s license suspensions.
#4: DUI/DWI courts exist
DUI courts provide an alternative to incarceration for drivers who have multiple DUI or DWI convictions. These programs combine the criminal court system with treatment for addiction. Strict criteria determine who can take advantage of this program.
#5: Types of chemical tests vary
Breath tests administered at the traffic stop, which are known as preliminary breath tests, aren’t considered reliable enough to be part of a criminal case. Blood and urine tests, as well as breath tests administered on stationary machines, may be admissible in court.
Your defense strategy directly impacts what type of sentence you’ll face if you’re convicted. Working with someone who’s familiar with these matters is helpful because you can draw from their knowledge to learn about the options you have.