DUI Alcohol Overview 

If you have been arrested for an alcohol DUI, it may be your first experience with facing a criminal charge.  If convicted, you could face jail time, fines, suspension of your driving privileges and increased insurance rates.  Convictions can also have negative consequences on your employment, especially if you are a licensed professional or a commercial driver. 

DUI Alcohol Charges

23152(a) – Driving under the influence of alcohol

23152(b) – Driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher

DUI Enhancements

23578 – Driving with BAC .15%+

23578 – Driving with BAC .20%+

23577 – Refusal to take chemical test

23582 – Excessive Speed

23572 – Child under 14 in car

“Under the influence” of Alcohol Defined

Under the influence of alcohol is defined as “your physical or mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that you no longer have the ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances.”

You Have Two Cases 

If you are arrested for DUI, you have two problems – A DMV problem and a criminal court problem. The DMV and Court processes are separate, and each must be fought independently. The DMV case relates to your California driving privilege and license suspension. The Court case deals with DUI punishment and may include jail, fines, DUI classes, license suspensions, formal probation, vehicle impound, installation of an ignition interlock or a combination of these things. Sentencing enhancements increases punishment.

DMV License Suspension vs. Court License Suspension

There are two ways your California driving privilege can be suspended. If you lose or default on the DMV hearing, a 4 month to 1-year suspension can occur. If you get convicted in court, it will trigger a 6 month to 2-year suspension. In some cases, your license can be revoked. In most cases, you will be able to get your license reinstated immediately with the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Important – DMV Hearing Date MUST BE SET Within 10 days of arrest

To get a DMV hearing you must call DMV to request a hearing, it is not automatically set for you. If you do not request a hearing within 10 days, your license will automatically be suspended 30 days after your arrest. The number to call to set your DMV hearing is on your Temp License/Notice of Suspension.

Temporary License 

When you are arrested, the police take your license and give you a Temporary License/Notice of Suspension. Read the Notice because it lays out your legal rights. If you request a DMV hearing, you can drive until your DMV hearing. If you don’t set a hearing, your driving privilege will be suspended 30 days after your arrest.

Restricted Driver’s License

If your license was valid at the time of your arrest, you will be eligible to apply for a restricted license. On a first offense you can apply for a work restricted license with no ignition Interlock device or a IID restricted license. In multiple offender cases, you can apply for a restricted license with an IID. If there is a refusal, you will be ineligible for a restricted license.

First Court Date – Arraignment

After you are released from jail, you are given a court date for your arraignment. Arraignment is where you are told about the charges and punishment you face. If you hire an attorney, they can appear for you, so you don’t have to go to court. If you don’t get an attorney, you must appear at your first court date or a warrant will be issued.

Bail/Release Terms at First Court Date

In many counties the prosecutor will ask a judge to order extra conditions when there are prior DUI’s, DUI with injuries, enhancements, accidents, or a high blood alcohol level. You could be ordered to wear an alcohol monitoring device, do random testing, be supervised by probation, attend AA meetings, and/or GPS monitoring. In serious DUI cases, the court can increase bail. If you are not prepared for the bail motion, you will be taken into custody in court.

DUI Settlement Conferences

After the arraignment there will be multiple settlement conferences where your attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge talk about case settlement. In between court dates, your attorney is negotiating for a dismissal, lesser charges, or lighter punishment. This is where case investigation, forensic analysis, blood retests, medical defenses, forensic defenses, no driving or drink after driving defenses or rising alcohol defenses are presented to the prosecutor in an effort to get a dismissal, reduction of charges, or lighter punishment. Mitigation evidence including character letters, rehab treatment, job issues, professional license issues, immigration issues, and commercial driving issues are also presented to the prosecutor in an effort to get a better resolution.

Trial Setting Conference

The trial setting conference is when your trial dates are set. Continued settlement discussions occur all the way up to trial. Prior to trial, motions are filed to exclude evidence including Miranda and Suppression motions.

Pre-Trial Motion – Miranda Motion

If the officer didn’t read you your Miranda rights when he was asking you incriminating questions and you were in custody, a judge can suppress your statements and all evidence derived from those statements. In many cases, this is helpful especially if you made bad statements like admitting to driving or being impaired.

Pre-Trial Motion – Suppression Motion

Suppression motions are filed when there is unconstitutional police conduct in a DUI case. This includes illegal detention, arrest, or blood draws. Police can only detain someone based on a 911 call, observed vehicle code violation or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. If the officer cannot articulate why he detained you, a judge can suppress all the evidence in the case which means your case will usually get dismissed.

DUI Trial

You never have to take a deal you don’t want. If you can’t get the resolution you want, you can always try your case in front of a jury. You only need one juror to vote not guilty to win your case. In many cases, your best chance for a dismissal or reduced charges in a defendable case is before trial because the prosecutor knows you’re serious. In most cases, even if you lose at trial on a first offense, not much is going to happen to you over what the original offer was. So, you don’t have much to lose and everything to gain by going to trial.

DUI Expungement

Even if you are convicted of a DUI, you can still get your case expunged. An expungement allows you to lawfully answer that you have never been convicted of a crime. To be eligible, you must have successfully completed probation, paid all your fines and fees, and completed the terms of your probation.


We have successfully represented thousands of individuals accused of drunk or drugged driving. We have successfully obtained acquittals, dismissals and reductions of DUI charges and have had DMV suspensions set aside. Call our office today at (916) 939-3900 to speak directly to an attorney about your DUI case. We are open 24/7/365 to answer your questions.