Everything You Need To Know About DUI LawTed Burgess
Everything You Need To Know About DUI Law
In Los Angeles, DUI is one of the most common arrests made. This could be a function of all the DUI checkpoints, the number of drivers on the road, or just an ignorance of the law. I am going to try to get rid of that last one for you. Once you understand how the law works and what your options are, you’ll be better equipped to handle a situation where you are face to face with an officer.
The first thing you need to know about DUI is what the legal definition is. Depending on your age and the type of license you have, the legal blood alcohol percentages (BACs) are different. If you are a typical driver, over the age of 21, with no special license provisions, the legal limit is .08%. If you have a commercial license, the limit is half of that – .04%. For underage drinkers, the limit is 0.00%. This zero tolerance policy means that taking cough medicine could technically land you with a DUI.
Police Procedure and Your Options
If you are pulled over by an officer or stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you have options. The very first thing you can do if the officer starts asking you questions that you are uncomfortable answering is state in a very polite way that you refuse to answer any more questions without the presence of a lawyer. You may also refuse a field sobriety test because they are not required by state law.
If you are under 21, this is the end of your options. If you are provided with a breathalyzer test you must take it. At 21 years of age you may decline this particular test. Keep in mind, the court may feel that your refusal to take a sobriety test is an indication of guilt, and that if you are found guilty the judge may come down with a harsher penalty due to your uncooperative nature at the time of the incident.
Officers may decide that you are unable to drive and take you into the station to await an arraignment. You can post bail at this time and have someone else pick you up from the station. Your car will normally be impounded and there will be a fee to release it back to you. If there is another person in the car with you, they may be asked to drive and you will be released on your own recognizance.
At your arraignment you may choose to plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. If you choose guilty or no contest you forfeit your right to contest the charges and you will be sentenced there on the spot. If you plead not guilty, you will be scheduled for a future court date.
At the time of your arrest for DUI, the officer is required to take your license and give you a notice of suspension and a temporary 30 day license. The suspension begins 30 days from your arrest date. If you are pleading not guilty in your DUI case, you should also challenge this administrative suspension to ensure you do not have your license suspended. You must request a hearing within 10 days of receiving your temporary license or the suspension will be considered no contest and go into effect.
If you are found guilty of a DUI in Los Angeles, the penalty will depend on your past record. If this was your first offense you will get a mandatory 6 month suspension on your license, up to 6 months in county jail, sentenced to attend 3 to 9 months of alcohol classes and have to pay fines of between $390 and $1000. You will also have 2 points added to your license and your insurance rates will go up.
A second DUI within a 10 year period will result in a 2 year suspension of driving privileges, 4 days to 1 year in county jail, 18 months of alcohol classes and a $390 to $1000 fine.
A third DUI in 10 years will get you a 3 year license suspension, 4 months to a year in county jail, 18 months of alcohol classes and another $390 to $1000 fine.
By Ted Burgess