California takes driving under the influence as a serious offense. Every year, more than 200,000 motorists are arrested for suspicion of DUI. If you or someone you know is facing similar charges, here’s what you need to know.
Getting stopped for DUI
If you are driving and a police officer suspects that you are under the influence, they can pull you over. That police officer will ask you to perform a sobriety test to evaluate your attention abilities and skill in operating your car. These tests include standing on one leg, walking-and-turning, and eye tests.
Field sobriety tests are not mandatory. You can refuse to do them and won’t face any penalties. You can be sober and fail a test, but the police will still arrest you.
Under California law, it is your legal duty to agree to take a chemical test if the police have lawful reasons for a DUI arrest. The law requires you to consent to urine, blood or breath tests to determine drug content in your body.
Penalties for DUI in California
If it is your first offense, you will pay a fine of $390 to $1000, spend 48 hours to 6 months in prison, and have your license temporarily suspended. The court can also order you to attend a treatment program and install an ignition interlock device in your car.
For a second offense, you will spend 96 hours to 12 months in prison, pay fines of $390 to $1000, and face three to five years of probation and 18 months of license suspension. On top of that, you must take an alcohol or drug program for 18 to 30 months.
The third offense can result in up to one year in prison, a maximum of five years probation, and a 3-year license revocation. If you are caught again for the fourth time within 10 years, the court will charge you with a felony.
The police can also arrest you for driving when under prescription medication. Therefore, before taking any substance, make sure that it won’t affect you when behind the wheel.