DUI Overview

Driving Under the Influence cases can be complex. Such cases are often referred to as DUI cases, DWI cases, drunk driving cases, or "deuces." For the purpose of this DUI information page the term DUI will be used to refer to all DWI or driving under the influence charges.

In most cases, if you are arrested for a DUI, you will be booked, and released within 6 to 14 hours. You may however be kept longer if you have prior DUI convictions, are on probation or the facts of the current offense are more serious. If you are not released on O.R. (own recognizance) bail will likely be set. You will then be given a court date to appear for your arraignment where your charges will be read out loud. In most DUI misdemeanor cases an attorney can appear on your behalf. After negotiations with the District Attorneys office, the case will either resolve, continue, or be set for trial (or Preliminary Hearing in felony cases).

Generally, as long as no injuries are involved, DUI cases are charged as misdemeanors. These cases can nevertheless be complicated. Experienced Sacramento DUI lawyers at the Law Firm of Bonilla & Cintean, LLP. are thoroughly familiar with scientific and medical evidence applicable to such cases, rules of evidence, examining expert witnesses, using admissible documentation, hearsay rules and the applicable law.

DUI Arrest And Release

Most arrests for misdemeanor violations of Vehicle Code section 23152 are made without a warrant when

a police officer observes an individual driving erratically, or observes signs of intoxication in a driver stopped for another Vehicle Code violation.

If you are arrested for a DUI, you should be admonished under Vehicle Code section 23612, the "implied consent" statute, that you will be given a chemical test and have a choice of (1) a blood test; (2) a breath test; or, if arrested for driving under the influence of any drug or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, (3) a urine test. If you are uncooperative, the police agency may compel you to submit to a blood test conducted in a reasonable manner. Most times they will videotape this forcible blood draw.

Generally, you will be held until you have sobered up. A six to fourteen hour hold is not out of the ordinary. When released, you will be given a citation and promise to appear (i.e., on O.R.). A citation will inform you of the date, time, and place to attend court. If you are not released in this manner, bail will be set according to the local bail schedule.

Potential DUI Charges

Unless a special circumstance exists, if you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both you will be charged with violating Vehicle Code section 23152(a), commonly referred to as the "DUI count," and will be prosecuted for a misdemeanor.

If under the influence of alcohol with a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) measured at 0.08 percent or more, you will also be charged with violating Vehicle Code section 23152(b), commonly called the "0.08 per se count."

Depending on the circumstances, you may also be charged with:

  • Drunk driving of a commercial vehicle if you have a BAC of 0.04 or above. Vehicle Code section 23152(d).
  • Driving while addicted to any drug. Vehicle Code section 23152(c).
  • Drunk driving resulting in injuries to others. Vehicle Code section 23153(a)-(b).
  • Child endangerment. Penal Code section 273a.
  • Driving with any measurable amount of alcohol (typically BAC of .01 or greater) if you are on probation for DUI. Vehicle Code section 23154.

A DUI that results in a death may be prosecuted as a vehicular manslaughter or even a second degree murder. While second degree murder charges are rare in DUI cases, prior DUI convictions may be used to show that the person charged knew the dangers of drunk driving.

Upon any DUI conviction in California, the courts are now required to read the following advisement under Vehicle Code section 23593(a):

"You are hereby advised that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If you continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and, as a result of that driving, someone is killed, you can be charged with murder."

Juvenile DUI

Juveniles who drive while under the influence are subject to prosecution. In addition charges can also be brought against adults who lend their cars to such juveniles. See Vehicle Code section 23140; Penal Code section 193.8. The minimum required BAC for a person under age 21 to be DUI is only 0.05. Vehicle Code section 23140.

DUI Enhancements

Some of the various enhancements that apply specifically to DUI cases:

  • Felony charges if you have three or more prior DUI or "wet reckless" violations within the last 10 years that led to convictions.
  • Felony charges if you have a prior felony DUI conviction within the last ten years.
  • Felony charges if you have a prior felony conviction for a DUI related vehicular manslaughter.
  • Reckless driving and speeding.
  • Passenger under age 14.
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical test.

DUI Vehicle Impoundment

If you are convicted, the court may order that your car be impounded for a period of 1 to 30 days, or longer if you have prior DUI related convictions. Vehicle Code section 23594.