DUI Defense

Have You Been Arrested for a DUI in California?

Our Oakland DUI Lawyer Can Strengthen Your Defense

The Law Offices of William Walraven understands the devastating consequences a DUI arrest or conviction can impose on your life. If you are facing a DUI, we recommend that you have an experienced DUI lawyer on your side. One decision should not ruin the rest of your life. Our Oakland DUI attorney could be able to help.

What Happens When You Get a DUI in California?

In California, you can be arrested for a DUI while driving or riding any motor vehicle. You can even get a DUI while on an electric scooter.

At the time of arrest, the officer may take your license and give you a suspension or revocation order, called a DS-367. The officer will give you a 30-day temporary license and send yours to the DMV.

The DMV will suspend or revoke your driving privileges automatically if you do not request a DMV hearing shortly after you are served with the DS-367. In California, you only have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV to challenge your license suspension.

You must request an in-person hearing or it will be held over the phone. Beginning in 2019, a first-time conviction for DUI can now be penalized with an ignition interlock device (IID). Convictions for repeat offenders or DUIs involving injuries will continue to be penalized with an IID.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, we recommend that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible, to avoid an automatic license suspension. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities under California law and can request a DMV hearing to keep you driving while your Court case and DMV hearing are pending. A lawyer can gather critical evidence that can be used for your defense.

California DUI Penalties

When you are arrested for a DUI, you will face two parallel proceedings: an administrative action with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and a criminal case with the California Superior Court in the County where you were arrested. The DMV can impose administrative penalties, such as license suspension, and the court can impose criminal penalties, including jail time and fines. 

The penalties of a DUI depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your situation. These factors could include:

Breath/Blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in California is 0.08% BAC. However, age and license-type can lower the legal limit to as low as 0.01% BAC. A DUI conviction with a BAC of .15% or higher, or .20% or higher, can result in more severe penalties, including additional jail time or a longer DUI First Offender Program (6 month DUI school for .15% BAC and 9 month DUI school for .20% BAC).

Age. Your age at the time of DUI arrest can affect the consequences if convicted. California has the Zero Tolerance Law for drivers under the age of 21. An under-21 DUI conviction will result in an automatic license suspension of one year.  This is a hard suspension, meaning an under-21 DUI convicted driver would be prohibited from driving for a period of one year.

Refusal of a chemical test. California has an implied consent law. If lawfully arrested for a DUI, the California implied consent law requires you to submit to a chemical test.  The officer must properly admonish you of the consequences of refusing to submit to a chemical test; these consequences vary depending on whether this is your first DUI arrest, or if you have a prior DUI conviction, or if you are currently on DUI probation.

A chemical test refusal leads to much harsher penalties than a simple DUI conviction.  For example, on a first offense DUI, a chemical test refusal will result in a hard license suspension of one year.  A refusal on a second offense will result in a hard suspension of two years.

Injuries. If the DUI involved injury or death, penalties are much more severe. You could be charged with a felony, vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide.

Repeat offense. The severity of DUI consequences largely depends on whether it is your first DUI offense. A second-offense DUI in California will have greater consequences than a first-offense DUI, with more jail time and higher fines.  For example, the maximum jail sentence is 1 year on a second-offense DUI compared with a maximum of 6 months for a first-offense DUI.

A DUI conviction will count as a prior offense for a period of 10 years from the offense date, and the DUI will stay on your driving record for 10 years.

Consequences of a DUI in California

Between administrative penalties and court penalties, a DUI could result in:

  • Jail time;
  • Fines and restitution;
  • Completion of DUI Program (first offender program or multiple offender program);
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for a minimum of six months;
  • Obtaining “high-risk” auto insurance policy; and
  • Probation (three to five years of informal court or supervised probation).

How to Beat a DUI in California

An experienced DUI lawyer can examine the evidence against you and determine the best defense strategy for your case. A few examples of defense strategies include:

Challenging the stop. An officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is violating the law in order to conduct a traffic stop. In order to lawfully arrest the driver for a DUI, however, the officer must have probable cause to believe the driver is driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Officers will typically form probable cause to arrest from a driver’s performance on Field Sobriety Tests, including the results of a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test.

If the officer lacked probable cause to arrest you, then an experienced DUI lawyer can file a motion to suppress evidence (such as any chemical test results) which if granted could lead to the dismissal of your case or reduction of charges.

Challenging the breath test. A breath test samples and analyzes the concentration of alcohol contained in your deep lung air. It does not measure the amount of alcohol in your blood. Many outside factors can influence the results of a breathalyzer.

The results of a breath test could be influenced by other substances in a person’s mouth that contain alcohol, such as mouthwash or chewing tobacco. A breathalyzer can also malfunction or be improperly used by an officer.

Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations lays out the procedure for administering a breath test. If the breath test was administered incorrectly or the machine was not properly calibrated, then the results may be inaccurate and can be challenged.

Challenging the blood test. Blood tests may not be accurate either. Again, the Government must follow proper procedures when administering a blood test. Results can be affected by improper testing, collection, storage and contamination.

Can You Expunge a DUI in California?

At the Law Offices of William Walraven, we understand that life after a DUI in California can be complicated. Unfortunately, the consequences of a DUI can extend beyond the penalties of your conviction. A DUI conviction can adversely affect your employment, education and immigration status.

Our Oakland DUI defense lawyer can determine your eligibility for California DUI expungement and help clear your record.  Expungement is the process of having a DUI retroactively dismissed from your criminal record.  

Generally, you must meet these basic criteria for DUI expungement:

  • You have completed all the terms of your probation for your DUI offense;
  • You have paid all fines ordered as a probation term;
  • You were not sentenced to state prison for your DUI offense;
  • You have not been charged or convicted in a new case; and
  • You are not on probation for a separate offense.

Have You Been Charged With a DUI in Oakland?

If you need Oakland DUI defense, contact the Law Offices of William Walraven to discuss your situation. Our Oakland DUI attorney can help you understand your legal options and determine the best defense strategy for your case.

We represent clients in Oakland and all counties throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Solano, Sonoma, Napa, Santa Clara and Marin. Call us at (650) 204-3879 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.