Commonly Asked Drunk Driving Questions
The following are commonly asked questions by
those arrested for DUI and Drunk Driving in California. Each
case is unique in its facts and circumstances. For a Free Drunk
Driving Case Consultation please contact us at (800)
Q. Will I need to attend
A. If you are charged with
a misdemeanor for drunk driving, your DUI Defense Attonrey,
can make most court appearances for you. In order to protect
your legal rights, your DUI Defense Attorney will always advise
you when or if it is in your best interest to attend court.
Q. What is an ignition
interlock device and when is it required?
A. The ignition interlock device
is an instrument which, when installed in an automobile, requires
the driver to blow into the device before the engine will start.
The device detects the presence of alcohol on the driver’s
breath and will disable the vehicle’s engine in that event.
The device is expensive and must be calibrated regularly. The
Court can order the device be installed in any vehicle owned
or operated by the defendant for up to three years. It will be
considered as a possible condition of probation whenever a defendant
has a prior conviction, or where a first offender’s breath
or blood alcohol reading is over .20 percent. An offense serious
enough to warrant such a sanction necessitates the aid of a
DUI defense attorney.
In addition, in circumstances where the licensee
has been suspended for two or more years by the DMV for a second
or subsequent offense, the DMV may require proof of installation
of the device before granting a restricted license after a year
of the suspension has elapsed.
Q. What is an arraignment?
A. The arraignment is your
first court appearance at which the Court will require you to
enter either a "guilty" or "not guilty" plea. Depending on the
circumstances of your case, your DUI defense
attorneys, will normally attend the arraignment for you or with
you and obtain a copy of the arrest report, enter a "not guilty" plea,
and continue your case for a pre-trial conference with the prosecutor
Q. Will I have to do
an alcohol education program?
A. Upon conviction of, for
example, Los Angeles or Orange County drunk driving or “Wet
reckless,” the Court will require, as a condition of probation,
that the defendant complete an alcohol education program. For
a first offense, the length of the program is usually three months,
involving weekly meetings of two to three hours in length. However,
a six or nine month program may be required if the breath or
blood alcohol reading is high (over .15% blood-alcohol). For
a second or subsequent offense, the length of the program is
normally 18 months, but may be 30 months in duration. There is
a limited 12-hour program for a conviction of “wet reckless.”
The programs are privately run, but licensed
by the state. The cost of the “wet reckless” program
is approximately $220.00. The programs vary from approximately
$450.00 for a three month program to approximately $1400.00 for
an 18 month program. If, for instance, you have been arrested
for Los Angeles or Orange County drunk driving, you should employ
the help of an experienced Los Angeles or Orange County DUI defense
attorney who may be able to mitigate your situation.
In addition, if a licensee is suspended by the
DMV for four months for a first-time California DUI arrest, the
DMV will require enrollment in a three month program (or a six
month program if the blood or breath alcohol content is over
.20%) before granting a restricted license.
Q. What is a "D.U.I."?
A. D.U.I. stands for "driving
under the influence," and typically involves two criminal charges.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (Section
23152(a), California Vehicle Code).
- Driving with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of
0.08% or more (Section 23152(b), California Vehicle Code).
Although DUI laws are state-oriented, local
knowledge of the court system and judges and prosecutors involved
can be of great benefit to your case.
Q. Should I take my
case to jury trial?
A. Imhoff & Assoicates,
will explore all available issues and defenses and advise you
at each stage of the proceedings. You will be given full advice
on the benefits of a jury trial, depending on the particular
circumstances of your case. We meticulously prepare every case
as if it were going to trial, and are ready to try your case
should you choose to do so. Additionally, this level of preparation
promotes the possibility of dismissal or reduction of charges
or other settlement before trial.
Q. What is my "B.A.
A. This is your Blood Alcohol
Concentration as measured by a blood, breath or urine test.
Q. What is a P.A.S.
A. A Preliminary Alcohol Screening
(P.A.S.) test involves the use of a small hand-held device that
indicates the presence of alcohol in your breath. If you blew
into a P.A.S. machine before your arrest, its reading may be
an important issue in your case. If necessary, we will challenge
the relevance and admissibility of the P.A. S. test reading.
Q. What does it cost
to hire an attorney for a DUI?
A. Fees vary depending on the
law firm or attorney, the facts and seriousness of the case and
whether the case is settled or tried. However, for a first offense
without aggravating factors, fees will generally range from as
little as $2000.00 (typically charged by an attorney with limited
experience and no expertise in drunk driving defense), to over
$7,500.00 (for attorney/s with extensive experience
in the defense of Driving
Under the Influence cases). However, since the out come of your
Drunk Driving case can significantly impact many if not most
areas of your life, we urge you to consider that it is the quality,
not the cost, of your legal representation that should be of
your greatest concern when retaining an attorney. Remember, the
decision you make today in choosing your
DUI defense lawyers will affect your rights, driving privileges
and lifestyle for years to come, in that a Court conviction and
DMV suspension due to a Drunk Driving conviction will remain
on your Court and DMV records for the next ten years (California).
If you’ve just been arrested for
Drunk Driving, the most important decision you make is the
selection of your DUI Attorney!
Q. What is "discovery"?
A. Discovery is the process
by which we obtain all relevant documents, evidence and witness
details from the prosecution that may assist in your defense.
Q. What is a DMV "APS
A. In addition to court proceedings
that involve your DUI defense, a California DUI arrest triggers
a Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) administrative action to
suspend your privilege to drive. The Administrative Per Se Hearing
(APS) is your opportunity to challenge the DMV's attempt to restrict
or suspend your license. It is essential you contact us within
ten (10) days of your arrest to enable us to obtain a hearing
for you with the DMV. We will advise you of the issues to be
addressed at the hearing and will use our best efforts and all
of our skill and experience as to protect your privilege to
drive. We may be able to present your case solely upon the written
documentation in your case, but occasionally it may be necessary
for witnesses to testify, including yourself, the arresting officer
and our blood alcohol expert.
Q. What is a "blood
A. This is the process by which
we obtain a portion of your blood sample to enable us to independently
re-analyze the accuracy of your blood test results, and to measure
the level of chemical preservative in the sample.
Q. Could I go to jail?
A. Although jail is always
a possible penalty for DUI in California, avoiding custody is
our priority in every DUI defense case. In some cases,
particularly if you have prior convictions, a residential or
outpatient treatment program may be an effective alternative
to jail time.Imhoff & Associates is experienced in working with
such programs to present rehabilitative treatment recommendations
to the court.
Q. Can I drive while
awaiting my DMV hearing?
A. A DUI Attornace can often
obtain a "stay" (postponement) of any driver's license suspension
pending the result of the DMV hearing. However, you must contact
us within ten (10) days of your arrest to enable us to petition
the DMV for your stay.
Q. What is a restricted
A. You may be entitled to a
restricted license, which will enable you to drive to, from and
during work, and to and from your home and alcohol program. We
will assist you in applying for the restricted license, if it
is available to you.
Q. What are the usual
Court penalties for a California DUI?
A. The penalties imposed by
the court for a California DUI conviction vary considerably depending
on the facts of the case, the defendant’s individual circumstances,
and whether there are any prior convictions for DUI. Factors
that increase penalties and result in county jail time include
prior convictions, a traffic accident, excessive speed combined
with reckless driving, a high blood or breath alcohol content,
refusal to submit to a chemical test or the presence of young
children in the vehicle. In addition, penalties can vary from
county to county and from court to court. Courts in some counties
routinely impose jail time even on a first-time California DUI
with none of the referenced aggravating factors.
The following is a summary of the minimum and
maximum penalties for DUI depending on the presence of any prior
convictions for DUI, or “Wet Reckless,” within 10
years of any new offense. The following penalties assume that
the Court grants “probation.” Probation is a period
of Court supervision during which time you must not commit any
new violations of the law and must comply with all Court-ordered
terms and conditions. Probation may be “formal” or “informal.” Formal
probation requires active supervision by a Probation Officer.
If probation is denied, lengthy jail time should be expected.
Minimum penalties include three years of informal
probation, a fine of $390.00 plus penalty assessments (additional,
punitive court assessments) and mandatory fees (totaling approximately
$1500.00), and a three month alcohol education program.
Maximum penalties include five years of informal
probation, a fine of $1000.00 plus penalty assessments and mandatory
fees (totaling approximately $3000.00), a six or nine month alcohol
education program, a six month license suspension and six months
in county jail.
Minimum penalties include probation as above,
a fine as above, an 18 month alcohol education program, 96 hours
of county jail.
Maximum penalties include probation as above,
a fine as above, a 30 month alcohol education program, a two
year license suspension and one year in county jail.
In addition to the probation, fines and alcohol
programs that may be imposed for a second offense, a third offense
conviction mandates minimum county jail time of 120 days up to
one year in custody. There will also be a three year license
A fourth offense may be filed as a misdemeanor,
but is more typically filed as a felony. The penalties for a
felony California DUI include probation, fines and alcohol programs
as above, but will include a four year license revocation and
180 days county jail, or up to three years state prison.
It should be noted that the Court can always
impose additional penalties, including the following: forfeiture
or impoundment of a vehicle used in the commission of the offense;
a requirement that any vehicle owned or operated by the defendant
be installed with an ignition interlock device for up to three
years; CalTrans or Community service; attendance at the county
morgue or hospital (Hospital and Morgue, a.k.a. HAM program)
or attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings or meetings
of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
If a defendant is involved in an accident involving
personal injury, or if a defendant has been convicted of a felony
California DUI within ten years of the present offense, the case
may be filed as a felony, with the possibility of state prison
being imposed. The court will also report the conviction to the
DMV. The DMV will then suspend the defendant’s privilege
to drive in California as follows:
First offense: Six months with eligibility for
a restricted license for the full six-month period upon receipt
by the DMV of proof of insurance (SR-22), proof of enrollment
in an alcohol education program and payment of a reinstatement
Second offense: Two years with eligibility for
a restricted license after one year upon receipt by the DMV of
proof of insurance (SR-22), proof of enrollment in an alcohol
rehabilitation program and payment of a reinstatement fee.
On a third or subsequent offense, there will
be a minimum revocation of three years.
Q. Do I need an attorney?
A. Failure to retain an experienced
DUI defense attorney makes acourt conviction and a license
suspension much more likely. The prosecutor is not your attorney
and has no obligation to counsel or be fair with you. Defending
yourself in the criminal court system is a very stressful experience
and a potentially hostile environment. Not hiring a DUI defense
attorney may lead to severe penalties. Obviously, no DUI Defense
Attorney can guarantee a result or outcome in your case, but
Imhoff & Assoicates will fully investigate and prepare your case
for your best possible defense, and we will work to minimize
or avoid court penalties and protect your driving privileges.
Q. What is a “Wet
A. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor.
It carries penalties of informal probation, a fine and the possibility
of up to 90 days county jail. Depending on the facts, this offense
can be negotiated as an alternative to a California DUI conviction
in the settlement process. A conviction for “wet reckless” and
dismissal of DUI charges can be a hard-fought victory, depending
on the circumstances, but the following should be understood:
There is an important difference between a “dry” and
a “wet” reckless. The term “wet” or “dry” denotes
whether alcohol was involved in the commission of the offense.
A conviction for a “wet reckless” will typically
require the completion of a 12 to 32 hour alcohol education program,
depending on the circumstances. More importantly, a “wet
reckless” is still considered a “prior conviction” for
California DUI charging purposes, so that if a person is convicted
of another DUI in the next 10 years, the penalties will be increased
as if the defendant has had a prior conviction for a California
Q. Will my insurance
company cancel my auto insurance or substantially increase
my premiums if I am convicted of a California DUI?
A. According to the Automobile
Club of Southern California, a driver convicted of a first time
California DUI can expect an increase in insurance premiums of
up to $6,600.00 over three years. However, policies and rates
vary, and it is possible that an insurance company may choose
to cancel insurance coverage, depending on individual circumstances.
Q. What “penalties” can
the DMV impose?
A. The DMV has power to revoke,
suspend or restrict a licensee’s (driver’s) privilege
to operate a motor vehicle because of an arrest
for DUI (rules varry between States). This procedure is separate
from the court proceedings in the case, and any “penalty” imposed
is in addition to any court penalties.
If a licensee has no prior convictions for DUI
and no prior suspensions for a California DUI arrest, the period
of suspension will usually be three to six months. However, it
is possible to petition the DMV for a restricted license, enabling
a licensee to drive to and from work, during the scope of work,
and to and from an alcohol program. An DUI defense attorney properly
experienced in DMV procedures will advise you how best to secure
just such a restricted license.
If the licensee has one or more prior convictions
for DUI, or “Wet Reckless,” within 10 years of the
present offense, the DMV will suspend driving privileges for
at least one year.
If a licensee is under the age of 21, or has
refused to submit to a chemical test, there is a mandatory period
of suspension for at least one year.