Personally, I consider DUI laws as one of the best pieces of legislation that this nation’s honorable lawmakers have contributed to the wealth of American jurisprudence.
As it is, a lot of vehicle owners really can’t wrap their minds on the idea that drunk driving is a big no-no, considering the danger it poses to their lives, as well as to the lives of others. Also, apart from the threat to people’s lives, drinking while driving also serve as security risks to private and government properties.
It is for these specific reasons that DUI laws were crafted and enacted—to (hopefully) deter people from mixing alcohol with driving chores in a bid to keep accidents from happening. But, as I’ve said, some drivers are just too hard-headed to think of this simple fact.
Now, if you’re a California resident and you’re not very particular about the state’s DUI laws, then it’s important that you read further and understand this piece. But first off, some important statistics from a report released by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs:
- In 2010, a total of 1,768 individuals died in alcohol- and drug-induced vehicle accidents;
- During the same year, some 24,343 cases of traffic-related bodily injuries were attributed to drunk driving;
- Male offenders comprised a staggering 77.6 percent of all recorded DUI cases;
- A whopping 197,879 drivers were slapped with a DUI charge;
- Among all offenders, drivers aged 21-24 were found out to have the highest blood alcohol content (BAC) level ranging from .08 (the California legal limit) and higher.
Add to all these statistics the fact that California also happens to be the US state with the most number of DUI arrests (with 214,828 recorded cases as of January 26, 2012), according to the list released by the State Justice Department.
Now, let’s focus on the salient points of California DUI laws that you must know and understand fully:
- California’s BAC limit is .08 percent for private vehicle drivers, while it’s .04 percent for drivers of public transportation;
- California’s unique DUI provision states that an offender may be slapped with not just one, but two, misdemeanor charges in a single incident—driving under the influence and driving with BAC of .08 percent or higher;
- Suspected DUI offenders are normally administered field sobriety tests (FSTs) to determine if they’re drunk or not. The good thing is that you are not legally obligated to take such tests; the bad thing is that should the apprehending officer asked you to take a chemical test instead (such as blowing into a breathalyzer or undergoing blood test), then you’re obligated to heed the order or face a one-year license suspension plus jail time;
- DUI cases in the state usually involves two processes: first is the criminal proceedings, where your guilt or innocence is ascertained by a trial judge; and second is the administrative license suspension proceedings, where the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) decides on whether or not to suspend your license for a year;
- Upon your arrest, the apprehending officer will take your license and then give you a pink slip, which will let you drive for 30 days. However, it is a must that you or your legal counsel contact DMV and ask for a hearing to be scheduled; otherwise, your license could be suspended for up to four months or longer depending on the specific circumstances concerning your DUI violation.
Now, as a piece of advice, I must tell you that in case you were pulled over for a suspected DUI violation, the trick is to politely and calmly talk to the apprehending officers. Should you be asked to undergo sobriety tests or answer questions, you have the right to refuse taking them or answering the questions. Instead, call your lawyer and ask for specific advice on what you should do. This way, you’d keep yourself from saying or doing anything that would worsen your predicament.
But the best advice that any lawyer could give you is, of course, this: do not drink and drive.
About the Author:
Jesse Whitten is known as a highly respected Bakersfield criminal defense attorney. He specializes in DWI, DUI, assault and battery, domestic violence and other criminal cases.