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Basic California Drunk Driving (DUI) Law - The California Vehicle Code:

California has two basic drunk driving laws, found in Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b):

    • 23152(a) It is a misdemeanor to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
    • 23152(b) It is a misdemeanor to drive with .08% or more of alcohol in your blood.


Note: In most cases, both the 23152(a) and (b) offenses will be charged. Even though there is only one act, the law says that a defendant charged with drinking and driving can be convicted of BOTH offenses — but can only be punished for one (the punishments are identical). Vehicle Code section 23153 sets forth the "felony DUI" provisions where an injury results from the drunk driving, while Penal Code sections 191.5 and 192 describe the crime of "vehicular manslaughter" where there is a death.

For further information, visit the following sites:

Basic DUI Law
Verbatum presentation of the basic misdemeanor DUI law, California Vehicle Code sections 23152.

DUI-Related Statutes
A broader range of California laws applying to drunk driving cases — misdemeanor, felony, prior convictions, etc.

AAA Guide to California's DUI Laws [cached version]
A good overview of the state's criminal and license supension laws, from the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Legal FAQs
Answers to the 20 questions most frequently asked by those arrested for DUI, from the attorney who wrote the legal textbook "Drunk Driving Defense, 5th edition".

California Vehicle Code
The main Vehicle Code sections which apply to misdemeanor drunk driving cases, along with explanations of their legal terms.

California's DUI Vehicle Impound Laws
How to get your car back if it is impounded as the result of a DUI arrest — either of yourself or of another.

California Vehicle Code
Verbatum collection of sections of the Code which apply to drunk driving criminal and license suspension cases.

AAA Punishment Chart
A chart of statutory sentencing ranges for misdemeanor drunk driving, from the Automobile Club of Southern Californias.

Clearing Your Record
Discussion of post-conviction procedures for setting aside a plea or verdict of guilty and obtaining a dismissal.

California Department Of Motor Vehicles Penalties:

In most cases, the person arrested for drunk driving will have his driver's license confiscated by the officer if he (1) takes a breath test showing .08% blood-alcohol or higher, (2) gives a blood or urine sample which will be analyzed later, or (3) refuses to be tested. He will also be given a pink sheet of paper which serves as both a notice of suspension and a 30-day temporary license. (For out-of-state drivers, the license will not be seized and the suspension will only be of the privilege to drive within California.) It is critically important to CALL THE CALIFORNIA DMV WITHIN 10 DAYS OF THE ARREST to request a hearing to contest the suspension; failure to do so will result in the suspension taking effect 30 days after the arrest. Requesting a hearing will also result in an extension of the 30-day temporary license, usually for another month or two depending upon when the hearing is held. Nothing is lost by requesting a hearing and a good DUI attorney has a fair chance of getting the suspension thrown out.

The division of the DMV responsible for the "APS" suspension of licenses is the Drivers Safety Office (DSO), with branch offices located around the state. It is at these offices that the hearings will take place, presided over by a "hearing officer" — a DMV employee without legal training who will serve as both prosecutor and judge.

The following resources will provide information about the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the laws that largely govern their reponsibilities: the California Vehicle Code.

California DMV
Home page of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Driver's License
General information about about driver's licenses.

Guide to the DMV
Unofficial website providing plain-English information about the DMV and its services.

DUI Suspensions over/under 21
DMV's overview of license suspensions for drunk driving for adults and drivers under 21.

DUI Suspensions
The DMV's summary of provisions for administrative ("APS") suspensions and restrictions of licenses for drunk driving; also included is information about "negligent operator" point-count suspensions

Impairment Chart
The DMV's simplistic chart of impairment based only upon weight and consumption.

AAA
The Southern California Auto Club's guide to the DMV.

Forms
Download Department of Motor Vehicle forms online, including Driver Safety forms.

Vehicle Code
The DMV's online access to the entire Vehicle Code.

Publications
Download such DMV publications as the "California Driver Handbook" online.

Administrative Hearings
Information from the Department of Motor Vehicles about challenging the officer's confiscation and suspension of your license.

DMV FAQs
The Department of Motor Vehicle's answers to frequently-asked questions about DUI license suspensions.

Get a Copy of Your California DMV Record
The Department of Motor Vehicles (California DMV) keeps your driving record for about ten years. You can obtain a copy of your California driving record by following the instructions on this site.

Procedural Overview For California Drunk Driving Cases:

The DMV procedure (explained above) and the court procedure are two separate and distinct procedures. The court process consists basically of three hearings:

The Arraignment
This is your first court hearing. You'll be given the opportunity to plead "guilty" or "not guilty". It is raraly advisable to plead guilty at this stage of the proceedings. The second hearing - the "pretrial conference" is the time for you to negotiate the disposition of your case if a disposition is going to be possible.

The Pre-Trial Conference
This is a conference set usually 2 to 3 weeks after the arraignment to allow you and/or your attorney to negotiate a settlement of the case with the district attorney. If a negotiated disposition can be reached at this stage of the proceedings, you'll enter a plea or the matter will be dismissed. If there is no disposition, you'll be given a trial date.

The Trial
If no disposition of your case is reached at the Pre-Trial conference stage, your case will be set for jury trial. DUI trials typically take between 2 and 3 days.

- Gene Kinsey

Attorney Fees:

$250 per hour against a $2,500 minimum fee to be paid in advance

 

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