Criminal Defense: General Overview of a DUI Arrest

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Criminal Defense: General Overview of a DUI Arrest


DUI Arrest: General Probable Cause


Driving Under the Influence (DUI) occurs in California when a person is driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.  To pull you over, the officer must have witnessed you violating some law.  This means that the cop must have seen you violate a Vehicle Code, or some other law.  He or she cannot pull you over without reason.  If the cop didn’t see you driving, but a civilian witness did and reported it to the police, this is often enough for the police to conduct an investigation.  For example, if you were driving and hit another car, and the other driver called the police, there will be enough probable cause for the responding officers to investigate whether you have been drinking.  Though they did not see you behind the wheel, the fact that a civilian did, and reported it, can be enough for them to prove you were driving.


Proving a DUI Arrest


The prosecution must prove that the person was driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.  This means that, if the person is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, the prosecution must prove that at the time of driving, the defendant had a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.  This does not necessarily mean that it was .08 or higher at the time of the test after the arrest, when the person wasn’t driving.  This means they actually were driving with a .08 or higher.  To be found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs, this means the prosecution must prove that there was enough intoxicants in your system to affect you, and that you were under the influence of them.


Tests Cops Use for a DUI Arrest


There are many varieties of field sobriety tests (FST) that cops use in determining whether a person is under the influence.  The most common is the breathalyzer.  A person suspected of DUI will be asked to breathe into a portable breath test which will give the cops a preliminary read on your blood alcohol level.  If you do this test, it can then be compared to tests taken after your arrest at the station.


Other FST tests include balance tests, counting tests, alphabet test, eye tests, etc.  The officers have been trained in these tests to look for objective signs of intoxication.  If you have any physical problems which would cause you to do poorly on these tests, such as balance or sight issues, you should tell the officer.


You DO NOT have to do any of the FSTs, including the preliminary breath test in the field.  You are not required to take any tests in the field, however, you will likely be arrested if the cop has enough to go on in the way of other evidence.  Once you are placed under arrest and taken to the police station for testing, you are then required to do a blood alcohol test.  You may do either a breath test or a blood test.  Urine tests are no longer used, generally speaking.  If the cops suspect that you are under the influence of a drug, the cops will do a blood test.


After the DUI Arrest

After a person has been placed under arrest for a DUI, the cops will generally hold the person until they are sober.  This generally means 4 to 12 hours.  Once the cops feel the person is ready to be released, they will issue a citation which a promise to appear.  The person will sign the citation before being allowed to leave.  This indicates that the person will appear at a court on a specified date and time to answer to the DUI charges.  If the DUI rises to the merits of a felony, bail will be set for the person, and they will not be able to leave on their own recognizance.  Once released, it is important that the person consult an attorney.  DUI charges are never definite, and can be won.  Further, the person only has 10 days to contact the DMV to request a hearing, or else they will automatically lose their license.  This is another area where an attorney can be of assistance.


Contact the Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache, a criminal defense firm, if you have any questions about DUI arrests or have been arrested for a DUI.

Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache

A Criminal Defense Firm

PO Box 3297

Palm Springs, CA 92262

Office: (760) 237-8295

Cell: (760) 668-8295

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