Our San Jose DUI Lawyer Answers Your Questions
A drunk driving conviction in California can lead to major legal consequences. You could face fines, professional license suspension or even incarceration. However, there are possible defense options that can help fight DUI charges. There are also actions you can take during a DUI stop or while in police custody to reduce the chances of a conviction. Below, our San Jose DUI lawyer answers common questions about DUI laws in California.
Do I Have to Take a Field Sobriety Test?
There are different types of field sobriety tests an officer may conduct during a DUI stop. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFT) is a series of tests designed to determine whether a person is inebriated. During an SFT, the officer may ask you to walk in a straight line and turn or stand on one leg and count to 30.
Fortunately, you do not have to take these tests, nor should you take these tests. You could very easily fail an SFT even if you are sober. Worse, the officer’s dashboard camera will likely record a failed SFT, and the footage could be used against you in court.
There are roadside DUI tests you may have to take, such as the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). During this test, you may have to blow into a breathalyzer. However, you only have to take a PAS if you are on probation for a prior DUI or are a minor suspected of violating California’s Zero Tolerance Law. You can refuse a PAS if neither applies to your situation. However, it is possible the officer will arrest you and require you to take a chemical test.
There are DUI chemical tests that you must take while in police custody. Refusing to take this test could result in additional penalties.
What Are the Penalties for a California DUI?
The penalties for DUI conviction depend on the circumstances. Factors that can influence the penalties include:
- Minors under the age of 14 were in the vehicle
- Multiple prior DUI arrests
- Injuries or deaths that occurred during a DUI-related crash
- Your BAC (blood alcohol concentration/content)
- Refusing a chemical test after an arrest
- Speeding or driving recklessly
- Whether you are over the age of 21
As you can see, there are a number of possible aggravating factors that can worsen the outcome of a DUI case. Penalties can include fines, license suspension, professional license suspension, probation and incarceration. You may also have to take a substance abuse course and may have to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Can I Avoid a DUI Checkpoint in California?
There are no penalties for avoiding a DUI checkpoint in California. However, avoiding a checkpoint may arouse suspicion. An officer cannot pull you over and arrest you for avoiding the checkpoint if you are not breaking any laws.
Police may temporarily detain you if they have reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime. Additionally, police may pull you over for traffic violations, such as an illegal U-turn or a broken taillight.
Can Police Take My License During a DUI Stop?
If police place you under arrest during a DUI stop, then they may confiscate your California driver’s license. You may receive a temporary or restricted license.
If the DMV upholds the decision to suspend your license, then you have the opportunity to request a hearing to contest the license suspension. Our San Jose DUI attorney can represent you during a DMV license suspension hearing.
Are There Defense Options for a DUI?
There are ways to potentially fight a DUI charge in California. Scenarios that may help with a DUI defense include:
- Faulty sobriety test equipment, such as a breathalyzer
- Medical conditions or medication that caused you to fail a sobriety test
- The officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over
- The officer conducted a faulty field sobriety test
- Improper administration of a PAS or chemical test
- Improper police conduct
These are only a few examples of situations where a DUI lawyer may be able to fight against a conviction. However, it is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Should I Talk to the Police While in Custody?
There are a number of mistakes you could make while in police custody that may increase the chances of a conviction. Talking to the police while in custody is one of the worst mistakes you could make. You should request to have a lawyer present and say nothing else.
Additionally, after your release from custody, you should avoid talking about your arrest on social media. Keep in mind, anything you say to the police or on Facebook may be used by a prosecutor. It is better to play it safe and allow your attorney to do the talking.
Do I Need a San Jose DUI Attorney?
There are multiple advantages to having a criminal defense attorney, some of which we discussed above. An attorney may be able to gather and protect evidence that proves your innocence. If necessary, an attorney can represent you during a DMV license suspension hearing or before a judge. Additionally, a DUI attorney may be able to work with the prosecutor to reduce your penalties.
Although public defenders provide an extremely valuable public service, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney that focuses his or her practice on DUI defense in California.
Contact Our San Jose DUI Lawyer for More Information
Have additional questions about DUI charges? We encourage you to reach out to our San Jose DUI lawyer for assistance. Nick Cvietkovich has extensive experience with DUI cases in California. You can schedule a free initial consultation with Nick by dialing (408) 898-9653 or by using the contact form on our site.