Questions About DUI in San Diego

Answers from San Diego DUI Defense Lawyers

California has strict DUI laws and the penalties for DUI offenses are harsh. It is important for all defendants to be aware of their rights and also know what to expect in the DUI process. Our firm wants to provide you with a convenient FAQ to familiarize you with all aspects of DUI crimes in California.

If you have been charged or arrested for any type of DUI offense, be sure to speak with a San Diego defense attorney from The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC. We have years of experience helping clients fight their charges, and we may be able to help you as well.

Can I legally refuse the intoxication tests?

The answer is "it depends." If you are 21 or older then you can legally refuse the field sobriety tests and the roadside Breathalyzer test. If you are under age 21; however, you cannot legally refuse the roadside tests. After you have been arrested, regardless of your age, you have to submit to a chemical test by law. You do have the right to choose between a blood, breath or urine test, but you have to perform at least one chemical test.

Should I request a DMV hearing?

You should request a DMV hearing in order to fight against your license suspension. The results of the hearing do not affect the charges you are facing in court, but it can help you keep your license. With the help of a skilled attorney, you may be able to challenge the evidence against you or the performance of the arresting officer.

If the officer did not give me a "Miranda" warning, can my case be dismissed?

Not necessarily. The arresting officer is supposed to give a 5th amendment warning after arresting you, but this is not required. If they do not give the warning, they cannot use any answers that you give to their questions, but that is the only consequence. More importantly, if they do not warn you of the implied consent law in CA, then you have an argument against your license suspension.

What are the penalties of a DUI?

The penalties vary depending on your offense and if you have any previous DUI convictions. For a first DUI offense, you may be facing: up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,500, probation for up to five years, licenses suspension for up to four months and up to six months of alcohol classes. If it is an aggravated offense or a multiple DUI, the penalties may be harsher.

How long will my license be suspended if I refused to perform a chemical test?

If you did not take a chemical test, the arresting officer will take your license on the spot and it will be suspended for one year. If it is your second time refusing the test, your license could be revoked for two years. If this is the third refusal, your license may be revoked for three years.

Do I have to appear in court?

If you are not able to appear in court, your attorney can appear on your behalf in most cases. You do not necessarily have to be present if you are represented by a lawyer.

What is the "rising BAC defense"?

This is a defense that an attorney can make when fighting against your DUI charges. The thought behind this defense is that it takes time for alcohol to be absorbed in the body. It is against the law to have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level above the legal limit while driving. However, oftentimes it takes about an hour to administer a test when arresting a driver suspected of DUI. This means that when the test is administered, the BAC may be different than when the person was actually driving. It takes between 30 minutes and three hours for alcohol to be completely absorbed into a person's system so while waiting for the test, the BAC could rise. If your test results show that your BAC was .10%, there can be an argument that it rose to that point after you were arrested. Your BAC while driving could have only been .07%, and your attorney can argue this point in court.

What does the term "mouth alcohol" mean?

This term refers to the presence of alcohol in your mouth when performing a breath test. If a driver has mouth alcohol, the breath test results will appear higher than normal results. The Breathalyzer machine assumes that the breath starts from the lungs, but the existence of mouth alcohol can create a discrepancy in the results. Some reasons that a person may have mouth alcohol include: breath fresheners that have trace amounts of alcohol, hiccups or burps can bring up vapors of alcohol from the stomach, dental caps can capture alcohol, chronic reflux conditions and hiatal hernias. If any of these reasons apply to your situation, your DUI attorney can argue that the results of your breath test are inaccurate.

If you have further questions regarding the DUI process or would like to discuss your unique case, contact a San Diego DUI lawyer from our firm. The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC has an online case analysis form that you can fill out to get started. We may be able to help you fight to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.