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DUI Laws & Penalties in California

Over 30 Years of Experience in Your Corner

DUI charges can be serious and should not be taken lightly. If you have been accused of drinking and driving in California, it could jeopardize your professional license, damage your reputation, and potentially lead to jail time. At The Chastaine Law Office, our Sacramento County DUI attorneys have successfully defended thousands of DUI clients over the past 30 years.

Defining California DUI

In California alone, there are over 160,000 DUI arrests annually. A DUI is considered a criminal charge and should not be taken lightly. You could be arrested and charged with DUI if you are found operating a vehicle under the following conditions:

  • BAC at or above .08% - 21 years old, operating a non-commercial vehicle.
  • BAC at or above .04% - 21 years old, operating a commercial vehicle.
  • BAC at or above .01% - under 21 years old.

The BAC levels are different for those operating a commercial vehicle, due to the nature of driving such vehicles. Driving buses and tractor-trailers takes specific skills. These vehicles are much larger than a passenger car and can cause more harm to other passenger vehicles on the road. If you have been arrested for commercial DUI, it is imperative you contact a Sacramento County DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

A zero-tolerance policy is also in effect across the state of California. Any persons under the age of 21 found operating a vehicle with a BAC at or above .01% can be accused of underage DUI.

Understanding Implied Consent

California is an “implied consent” state, which means drivers are required to submit to some form of chemical testing if a police officer suspects the suspect has been drinking and driving. If you choose to refuse to submit to blood, breath or urine test, you could face mandatory suspension of your driver’s license.

That state law also calls for police to immediately suspend the driver’s license of any driver who is suspected of drinking and driving. This law is called Admin Per Se. At the time of arrest, law enforcement confiscates a suspect’s license and sends it to the DMV, where the license stays until the driver is no longer under suspension or they are found not guilty of DUI.

DUI Penalties in California

The penalties and charges for DUI can vary and are highly dependent upon circumstances of your arrest. They can change depending on how old you are, if this is your first offense, if you are operating a commercial vehicle, and even by how high your BAC levels were at the time of testing.

If convicted of a DUI in Sacramento County, you could face the following penalties:

  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Fines and fees
  • Community service
  • DUI education classes
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

Defenses for DUI Charges

Michael Chastaine, a Sacramento County DUI lawyer, literally authored a book titled How to Survive a DUI Arrest: What You Need to Know. He was able to write the book because he has defended thousands of clients throughout his more than three decades as a DUI defense lawyer. Attorney Chastaine has transferred that expertise and knowledge to other lawyers in his office, and they work together to help you achieve the best outcome possible. Clients are frequently surprised to learn about the many possible defenses for DUI charges.

Our legal team utilizes any number of effective defenses for DUI, including:

  • There was no voluntary movement of your vehicle
  • You were not the driver of the motor vehicle in question
  • Your blood sample was improperly stored and that tainted the results
  • The arresting officer did not have probable cause to pull over your vehicle
  • Your nervousness caused your poor performance during your field sobriety tests
  • The breathalyzer was improperly maintained or malfunctioned, resulting in an error
  • A medical condition resulted in an incorrectly recorded BAC during your breath test
  • The arresting officer did not adhere to the relevant laws and guidelines when making your arrest and handling your detainment
  • A phenomenon called "rising blood alcohol" means your BAC could have been below the legal limit at the time you were actually driving and increased by the time you completed the chemical test

Typically, the specific facts of your situation determine whether or not you have a viable strategy for defense. In the case that you do not have an obvious defense strategy, it’s still critical that you strive for the best plea agreement possible. By achieving the most favorable outcome, you mitigate the damage and are put in a position to achieve future success.

We Can Help You Get Your Life Back on Track

People are only human and humans make mistakes. Oftentimes, DUI offenses are the result of using poor judgment. It does not signify that you are a bad person. Let our Sacramento DUI lawyer help you get your life back to normal.

Contact us today for a FREE consultation. We can be reached at (916) 943-4487.

Contact The Chastaine Law Office

Proven DUI & Criminal Defense Team Ready to Fight for You
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