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San Francisco, California DUI Laws

San Francisco DUI Laws Attorney

Drunk Driving Laws in California Impose Harsh Penalties

The San Francisco District Attorney's office prosecutes drunk driving charges aggressively. If you are charged with drunk driving in the Bay Area, you need an experienced attorney who thoroughly understands California DUI laws, how these laws are prosecuted in San Francisco County Superior Court, and the most effective defense strategies to mitigate the situation as much as possible.

California has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Even a first-offense drunk driving conviction can result in a jail term, a 10-month driver's license suspension, fines, and other penalties. Multiple DUI offenses are punished even more harshly. Here is a closer look at the drunk driving laws in the Golden State.

California Criminal DUI Statutes

California DUI laws are found mostly in section 23152 of the CA Vehicle Code. When a motorist is arrested for drunk driving, they are usually charged with two criminal offenses:

  • VC 23152(a) Driving under the influence of alcohol; and
  • VC 23152(b) Driving with a .08 percent or more alcohol content in his or her blood or breath.

The following additional (or alternative) charges may be filed in a non-injury DUI case:

  • VC 23152(d) Driving a commercial vehicle with a .04 percent or higher alcohol in his or her blood or breath;
  • VC 23152(e) Driving with a 0.04 percent or more alcohol content when having a passenger for hire in the vehicle (this is aimed at Uber and Lyft drivers); [This statute becomes effective July 1, 2018]
  • VC 23152(f) Driving under the influence of any drug;
  • VC 23512(g) Driving under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug;
  • VC 23136 Driving with a .01 percent or more alcohol content while under the age of 21 (commonly referred to as the "zero tolerance" law);
  • VC 23140 Driving with a .05 percent or more alcohol content while under the age of 21; or
  • VC 23154 Driving with a .01 percent or more alcohol content while on probation for a DUI conviction.

Aggravated circumstances can lead to enhanced charges and tougher penalties. For example, a DUI with bodily injury (VC 23153) could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, and if you caused an accident with death you may be facing a gross vehicular manslaughter charge under Penal Code 191.5 or second degree murder under Penal Code 187.

The DMV Administrative Proceeding

California authorizes an immediate "per se" suspension of driving privileges for motorists charged with drunk driving. The suspension is administered through the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV administrative proceeding is separate from the criminal case and imposes an automatic suspension of your driver's license after 30 days. This is commonly referred to as the "stop and snatch" law, and the only reason for this 30-day waiting period is because the guarantee of due process (right to be heard) necessitates it. You have only 10 days to request an administrative hearing to challenge your suspension. If you fail to act within this 10-day window, there is usually no further opportunity to prevent the suspension from taking effect.

Speak with an Experienced California DUI Laws Attorney

Motorists have certain rights when they are stopped for drunk driving that the police do not always adhere to. For example, they must have a legal basis to initially pull you over (referred to in the law as "reasonable suspicion" that you have committed an offense). Then, before they may lawfully arrest you, they must have "probable cause" to believe you have been driving under the influence. Once arrested, you must be advised of your constitutional "Miranda" rights before any questions are asked, or your answers to questions will likely be deemed inadmissible at trial. Attorney Paul Burglin has extensive knowledge of California DUI laws and the U.S. Constitution, and is very experienced at cross-examining police officers on these issues.

Since 1985, attorney Paul Burglin has successfully represented more than 5,000 clients in the Bay Area who have faced drunk driving charges. He co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide commonly referred to as the "Bible of DUI Defense," and he is one of only five attorneys in the state of California who is Board-Certified by the National College of DUI Defense (as approved by the American Bar Association). His depth of experience and proven track record have made him the "go to" attorney for prosecutors, judges, and DMV hearing officers when one of their family members or friends is arrested for drunk driving.

For a personalized consultation with attorney Paul Burglin, contact our office today at 415-735-3995. We serve clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding northern California communities.

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