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The DUI Arrest Process: From Stop to Booking


What is a DUI?

Most of us know what a DUI is. We are all aware that if someone is pulled over when they have been consuming alcohol, there is a chance they can receive a DUI. But do you know how the State of California defines a DUI?

California’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws apply to both alcohol and drugs. In California, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or any drug that impairs your ability to operate a vehicle safely. California does not see a difference between legal and illegal drugs. If your ability to operate your vehicle is impaired, even by a medication prescribed by a practicing doctor, you may face a DUI.

In California, regardless of age, it is illegal to drive after overindulging alcohol of any form. This includes medications like cough syrup. You could also face a DUI for taking any drug that affects your ability to operate your vehicle. This includes prescription or over-the-counter medications.

It is important to read your medication’s warning labels in order to understand the effects of your medication.

Possession of Alcohol or Cannabis While Operating a Vehicle

California law is very strict when it comes to carrying alcohol or cannabis in your vehicle with you. It is illegal to consume alcohol or cannabis products while operating a vehicle. It is also unlawful to consume these products even if you are a passenger in a vehicle. Alcohol and cannabis products must be sealed if they are in your vehicle. If they are not sealed, those products must be stored in the trunk of your vehicle or somewhere passengers do not sit. You can not keep an open container of alcohol in your glove box.

How Much Can You Drink Before It Is Illegal to Drive?

This is a tricky question with an answer that is different from individual to individual, case to case. The legal driving limit is determined by testing a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, not everyone is affected by alcohol the same. Some medications can affect a person’s tolerance. As people age, their tolerances decrease, and you can end up with a higher BAC with fewer drinks.

In California, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if you have a BAC of:

  • 0.08% or higher as an adult of legal drinking age.
  • 0.01% or higher if you are under the legal drinking age of 21.
  • 0.01% or higher if you are on DUI probation.
  • 0.04% or higher if you operate a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license.
  • 0.04% or higher if you are driving a passenger for hire.

What Is The DUI Arrest Process?

When you drive in the State of California, you consent to a breath, blood, or urine test if a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that you may be driving while under the influence.

A traffic stop is the very first step of the DUI process. This will often be a person’s first contact with a government official when facing a DUI charge. If the stopping officer has reasonable suspicion that you are driving while under the influence, they may ask you to leave your vehicle to conduct a field sobriety test.

A field sobriety test is a collection of several physical and cognitive tests that law enforcement uses to confirm their suspicions that a driver may be driving while under the influence. This can be balancing tests, counting tests, hand-eye coordination tests, and more.

After a field sobriety test, the law enforcement officer may decide to ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer is a mobile device that law enforcement uses to test blood alcohol concentration while in the field. They will give you instructions on how to take the test, which usually involves blowing a steady stream of breath into the device until you hear a click.

Some people believe they can avoid a DUI arrest by refusing either the field sobriety test, a breathalyzer test, or both. This is not the case. California has an implied consent law, which means the act of driving a motor vehicle in the state is a form of consent to be tested. Denying the officer’s request can actually make your situation worse.

If you refuse the test, the officer must inform you that your refusal is punishable by a fine and immediate imprisonment. You can also lose the ability to operate a vehicle for up to a year or two years if this new charge occurs within ten years of a separate vehicle-related conviction, like a DUI or reckless driving.

Using the information from these tests, the officer may place you under arrest for DUI. A person arrested for a DUI will immediately be brought into a detention center or jail.

What Comes After the Arrest?

Once you are arrested for a DUI and detained, you may be further tested with a blood or urine test. This is where you will be booked. During booking, information, such as your personal information, will be collected. Your criminal record will be checked. Your fingerprints and mug shots will be documented. You will be further searched, and your personal items will be collected and stored. The last step is being placed in a holding cell or local jail. You will eventually be allowed to contact a family member or attorney.

This Is The Time to Get a Lawyer

Do not wait to hire an attorney. An experienced attorney can be the difference between a conviction and a complete dismissal of charges. The lawyers of Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, are experienced with DUI cases and can help ensure the justice you are owed. Do not wait to find out what you are charged with, and do not wait to get advice from anyone else other than your lawyer.

Call 909-798-1500 to schedule your free consultation and to find out more about your options.

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