California Law Regarding A DUI Arrest


In my last post, I discussed your rights when you are pulled over for suspected driving under the influence of alcohol. As I discussed in that post, you are free to decline the field sobriety tests but whether you stumble on those tests or don’t submit to them at all, if the officer believes you are under the influence of alcohol, he or she will arrest you for DUI. At that point, your rights are diminished. You must submit to the chemical test for blood alcohol content (BAC), which will most likely involve blowing into a breathalyzer device. If you decline to submit to this test, you will still be under arrest and subject to more severe penalties.

At the time of your arrest for DUI, you will be required to surrender your driver license. The arresting officer will provide you with a temporary paper license that is goof for only 30 days at which time your license may, and most often will, be suspended by the DMV. In a later post I will discuss the license suspension process. You will obviously not be allowed to drive your car and unless there is a sober person who is immediately available to drive your car, your car will be towed and impounded. You will have to pay a hefty impound fee to recover your vehicle. And you will get a ride to the police station in the back of a police car.

You may be subjected to a subsequent breath or blood test at the police station. If your BAC is over .08%, you will be charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level above .08%. If your BAC is over .15%, you face an additional charge for driving with an excessive BAC and if convicted, you will face additional penalties. If your BAC registers under .08%, you can still be arrested for driving under the influence if the officer has probable cause to believe that your driving skills were compromised by alcohol or drugs.

You will be booked at the police station and will likely spend some hours or overnight in a jail cell. Assuming this is your first DUI arrest and that you are not on probation or parole for any other crime, you will probably be released on your own recognizance. In some cases, depending on the circumstances, you may be required to post bail before being released. In cases where there are additional factors surrounding your DUI arrest, such as an accident you caused while DUI, or other serious circumstances, you will in all likelihood be required to post bail.

A DUI arrest does not always mean you will be charged with DUI, although in most cases that is a certainty. The officer submits his or her arrest report to the district attorney who then decides whether charges should be filed. If your chemical test registered .08% or above, you can be sure that DUI charges will soon follow. It is only on those arrests where the driver did not show a BAC of .08% or more and the evidence presented by the officer in support of the arrest is flimsy that the district attorney may decide not to file charges.

But even if the district attorney does not file charges, you still have to contend with the DMV. Remember, your license has been suspended by the DMV. How a situation such as this is handled by the DMV will be discussed in a later post.

William Weinberg has extensive experience defending those who have been charged with driving under the influence. Please feel free to contact him to set up a confidential consultation without charge at or by phone at (949) 474-8008.Cali