The DUI Process

The DUI process starts with the police officer looking out for signs of intoxication. Generally the police officer will look for signs such as severing from one lane to another, reckless driving, driving well very slow – for example doing 20 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone, sudden acceleration and deceleration, etc.

DUI Stop

Once the officer feels that you are displaying signs of intoxication, he will stop you. When he stops you, he will be looking for signs of intoxication like  smell of alcohol, open bottles of alcohol and other physical signs such as reddish eyes or blurred speech that can indicate intoxication.

Field Sobriety Test

After observing you, the officer will ask you to undergo certain field sobriety tests. These include the one legged stand, reciting the English alphabets A to Z, watching a pen like object which the officer will move from one side to another, etc. While conducting these tests, the officer will observe your physically behavior for signs of intoxication. If you fail these tests, the officer will ask you to take a breath test.

Breath Test

You must blow into a breath analyzer to determine if your blood alcohol content is higher than the legal limit. If your blood alcohol content is higher than the legal limit, the officer will arrest you and take you to the police station and subject you to a blood test. The results of your blood test will be noted. At the police station you may be allowed to go after posting bail or you may have to wait until you are produced in court.

Court Proceedings

You will be notified of the date of your court case. You should attend the court on that day. If you don’t, the case will proceed in your absence. You could also be guilty of jumping bail. At the hearing, inform the judge that you are pleading not guilty. The court will then schedule your case for trial.

Fighting the Charges

The trial will begin with the prosecution explaining to the court the circumstances under which you were arrested for DUI. The arresting officer will testify against you. Once the prosecution completes its side of the case, you will be given a chance to place your defense before the court. You will also be given a chance to question the officer who testified against you. After hearing both sides, the court will pass its judgment.

Administrative Action

Besides the court case, you will also face administrative action in the form of suspension of your driver’s license. The action will start immediately on your arrest. The outcome of the court case will not affect the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. You must deal with it by requesting a hearing against the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. The request must be made to the DMV.

Penalties for Conviction

Penalties for DUI include fines, jail term, probation, driving school and counseling. The penalties are enhanced for every subsequent conviction. In California, a DUI conviction can result in a single penalty or a combination of penalties.

First OffenseSecond Offense (within 10 years of First Offense)Third Offense (within 10 years of previous offense)
ImprisonmentMinimum 96 hoursMaximum 6 monthsMinimum 90 daysMaximum 1 yearMinimum 120 daysMaximum 1 year
FineMinimum $1000Maximum $1600Minimum $1000Maximum $1900Minimum $1000Maximum $2000
License Suspension6 months2 years3 years
Driving SchoolYesYesYes
Ignition InterlockMay be orderedMay be orderedYes
SR 22 Form to be submitted to insurance companyYesYesYes

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