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DUI Arrest in California

Affordable Coverage after a DUI

Procedures for DUI Arrests in California

Anyone who appears to be driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance may be arrested and charged with DUI in California. California takes DUI very seriously. Most of the time, a DUI arrest will follow a breathalyzer, but not always. If you have been arrested for DUI, there are certain things you can expect will happen.

Getting arrested for anything is scary. Cost-U-Less Insurance can help you understand what happens when you get arrested for DUI, how to find affordable car insurance and what the next steps are.

How Does a Police Officer Know I’ve Been Drinking?

Law enforcement officers are trained to detect driving behavior that seems suspicious. If an officer suspects you are driving under the influence, they will pull you over and initiate a traffic stop. If they smell alcohol on your breath, if you are slurring when you speak, if your eyes are red or you exhibit any type of abnormal behavior, the officer might ask you to perform a field sobriety test or blow into a breathalyzer.

What is a Field Sobriety Test?

It’s a number of tests the officer will require you to do, including walking and turning in a straight line, following a pen with your eyes, standing on one leg and others. If your test results are questionable, you may be asked to do a breathalyzer.

What is a Breathalyzer?

It’s a little machine you blow into that measures the amount of alcohol in your blood (Blood Alcohol Content). Anything over a 0.08% BAC is an automatic DUI. If you are a commercial driver in your rig, anything over 0.04% is a DUI. If you are under the age of 21, anything over a Bac of 0.01% is a DUI

If you refuse to take a breathalyzer, the officer may get a warrant for a blood draw. You will lose your license for one year.

A driver faces a field sobriety test.

What Happens After an Arrest for DUI in California?

Anytime you are arrested for DUI, you will be taken to jail (or a hospital if necessary). As part of the arrest process, the officer will provide you with a completed notice of suspension of your driver’s license and will take physical possession of your license.

What To Expect After a DUI Arrest

  • The officer will provide you with a temporary driver’s license (pink form).
  • Your vehicle will be towed and you will need to pay to get it out.
  • You may have to stay in custody until a certain number of hours have passed and you have sobered up. In other cases, you may be able to bond out immediately.
  • You will be released once you “post bail” (pay a certain amount of money) or are released on a “personal recognizance” bond, which includes no money, but a signed promise that you will appear in court at the assigned time.

DUI Arrest Report

The police report, which lists the details of the arrest, including test results and the suspension order, will be sent to the local court where a decision will be made on whether to decline to file charges or formally charge you with a DUI.

DMV Hearing

You must request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days after you have been arrested. At this hearing, you can challenge the suspension. If it is determined at your hearing that there is not a basis for the suspension, your driver’s license will be returned to you.

Keep in mind that just because you “win” your suspension hearing, your case will still be filed in the California criminal court system.

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The Process for Getting Your License Back

After the DMV receives your confiscated driver’s license, it will suspend your license in 30 days if you have not requested a hearing or if you requested a hearing but lost your challenge.

In this case, you may lose your license for some time. The length of time will be based on factors including any prior DUIs, as well as whether you refused a test to measure your BAC. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer, you will automatically lose your license for one year.

Your driver’s license will be returned to you at the end of the suspension after you pay a $125 fee and you file proof of car insurance. The reissue fee is $100 if you were under age 21 and were suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law.

What Happens After My Case is Filed?

There are three possible steps after your case is formally charged. The first is an arraignment, next is pretrial proceedings and finally, if warranted, a trial.

The Arraignment

You will need to show up for your appearance in court at your arraignment. At this time, you will be able to plead guilt, not guilty or no contest. If you plead guilty, you will be sentenced. If you plead not guilty, you will enter the next phase, the pretrial proceedings. A no contest plea typically proceeds to sentencing.

Pretrial Proceedings

During this phase, evidence is examined and your attorney if you hire one will file any motions that could affect your outcome. The prosecutor may respond by offering a plea deal or lowering the charge to a lesser offense. If they are unsuccessful, the case will proceed to the trial phase.

The Trial

If you go to trial, a jury will decide your fate. A DUI trial may take a few days and a jury must be convinced beyond a “reasonable doubt” that you committed the offense with which you are charged. Part of the trial phase is sentencing, where you will learn your fate.

Young man driving with a bottle of beer.

Penalties for a First-Time DUI Offense

Even though a first-time DUI is generally a misdemeanor, you may still face serious consequences. This includes:

  • DUI school for three months
  • Fines and penalties between $1,500 and $2,000
  • Six-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Up to 6 months in jail

This is a general list of legal consequences you may face if you are found guilty of DUI in California. Depending on your circumstances, you may have more requirements.

The Cost of DUI

Whether you get a DUI in California or some other state, it’s an expensive mistake. Some reports set the total cost at between $10,000 and $15,000. And that’s if you just got a DUI with no aggravating factors, such as a car accident. You’ll be paying for your car being towed, the fines and fees associated with your case, attorney’s fees plus the more expensive insurance you’ll be required to purchase afterwards.

Once you are convicted of DUI, insurance companies rightly view you as a high-risk driver who is liable to behave irresponsibly behind the wheel and end up filing a claim. You may also be required to file an SR-22 certificate with the DMV, which lets them know you have the required amount of insurance.

Some insurance companies refuse to handle drivers who need an SR-22, but at Cost-U-Less, we work with “high-risk” drivers all the time. Our experienced agents can help find insurance you can afford.

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Hiring an Attorney after a DUI Arrest in California

Should you hire legal representation after you’ve been arrested for DUI in California? There are different schools of thought around the subject.

In the past, an attorney might get your charges downgraded to something a little less harmful to your record and your future, such as reckless driving. However, that is no longer the case. All 50 states have passed laws making it mandatory for intoxicated drivers to be judged for DUI.

Here are some things to consider when deciding if legal counsel is necessary.

Are You Truly Innocent?

There are some circumstances where a person may blow a 0.08% or greater on a BAC test and still not be under the influence of alcohol. Likewise, in the case of drugs, such as marijuana or a prescription medication, the officer may have used his discretion in determining you were DUI. If there are true mitigating circumstances to your DUI and you are innocent, you will want to hire an attorney.

What is Your Financial Situation?

Being arrested and convicted of a DUI in California is already an expensive proposition, even without attorney’s fees.

If you truly cannot afford to hire an attorney and this is your first DUI with no aggravating circumstances (a misdemeanor charge), you may be better off taking your lumps and taking steps to make some life changes.

If however, you feel an attorney is worth the cost, then by all means hire one. If nothing else, an attorney will help you navigate the processes you’ll be experiencing. In the end, whether or not to seek legal counsel is an entirely personal decision that you have to make for yourself.

Find Cheap DUI Car Insurance in California Today

If you’ve found yourself in the position of having to find insurance after a DUI in California, Cost-U-Less can help. We know you still have to drive to work or to take the kids to school, so give us a call at 800-390-4071, check us out or stop by one of our locations to find out how we can help get you back on the road.