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California DUI Laws

Mill Valley California DUI Laws Attorney

Understanding Drunk Driving Laws in the San Francisco Bay Area

California has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Even a first-time DUI can incur heavy penalties and jail time, and the consequences for second and multiple DUIs are even harsher. If you have been arrested for DUI, it is important to understand California DUI laws and the most effective defense strategies to avoid jail time and minimize the negative consequences.

Since 1985, Burglin Law Offices, P.C. has successfully represented motorists charged with DUI in Marin County and throughout northern California. Attorney Paul Burglin co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide commonly known as "the Bible of DUI defense." Because of his in-depth knowledge of California DUI laws, Paul Burglin is frequently called on by judges, prosecutors, and DMV hearing officers when someone close to them is arrested for DUI.

California Drunk Driving Laws

California DUI laws can be found in Section 23152 of the CA Vehicle Code:

  • 23152(a): It is unlawful for an individual who is under the influence of alcohol to drive a motor vehicle.
  • 23152(b): It is unlawful for an individual who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 percent or above to drive a motor vehicle.
  • 23152(d): It is unlawful for an individual to drive a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .04 percent or above.
  • 23152(e): It is unlawful for an individual who is under the influence of a drug to drive a motor vehicle.
  • 23152(f): It is unlawful for an individual who is under the influence of a combination of drugs and alcohol to drive a motor vehicle.

In the majority of cases, drivers operating personal vehicles who are pulled over for DUI are charged under both section 23152(a) and 23152(b). Even if there is only one crime, the law says that a defendant can be convicted of both offenses, but only punished for one. If you had a DUI accident, and the accident resulted in death or serious injury, you may be charged with the crime of "DUI causing injury" under CA Vehicle Code 23153.

During a DUI arrest, you have certain legal rights that are not always adhered to by the police. These include:

  • There must be the existence of legally sufficient facts (i.e., probable cause) to detain and arrest you;
  • You must be advised that the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device test is voluntary, unless you are on DUI probation or under 21 years of age;
  • After being placed in custody, you must be advised of your constitutional "Miranda" rights before any further questions are asked, or your responses will be subject to exclusion from evidence;
  • Absent what the law refers to as "exigent circumstances," the police must generally obtain a warrant before having a sample of your blood drawn, unless you lawfully consent to the procedure. (This is no longer true with respect to breath-alcohol testing--the police may demand you comply with breath-alcohol testing without a warrant, so long as you were lawfully arrested).

California's "Implied Consent" Law

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23612, drivers who are lawfully arrested for DUI are required to submit to a chemical test (breath or blood) to determine the driver's blood alcohol concentration. This is known as "implied consent," meaning that when you drive in California, you are giving your consent for the chemical test if this situation ever arises. Penalties for refusing to take the chemical test start with a one-year driver's license suspension for the first refusal, which goes up to a two-year suspension for the second refusal, and a three-year revocation for a third refusal. Jail time is possible.

California's "Zero Tolerance" Law for Underage DUI

Drivers under the age of 21 who are arrested for drunk driving can be charged with a standard adult DUI if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 percent or above. However, even if their BAC level is under the legal limit, there are still consequences. Under CA Vehicle Code 23136, an underage driver with a (BAC) level of .01 percent or above is subject to a one-year driver's license suspension. This is known as the "Zero Tolerance" law. Under CA Vehicle Code 23140, an underage driver with a (BAC) level of .05 percent or higher can incur a $100 fine and mandatory alcohol education in addition to the one-year suspended license.

Speak with a Seasoned San Francisco California DUI Laws Attorney

Being arrested for DUI in California is a serious matter. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be looking at thousands of dollars in fines and penalties, loss of driving privileges, jail time, and other future consequences such as difficulty obtaining employment, housing, loans, or college admissions. Attorney Paul Burglin understands what is at stake, and he knows California DUI laws inside and out. If you retain his services, he directs full attention to your case and works hard to mitigate the situation as much as possible.

For a personalized consultation with attorney Paul Burglin, contact our office today at 415-729-7300. We serve clients throughout the Bay Area, including Marin County, Tiburon, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Larkspur, San Rafael, Novato, San Anselmo and Fairfax. We also assist locals and tourists cited in the wine country, Sonoma and Napa, as well as those cited in San Francisco, Oakland, and Martinez.
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