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San Francisco DUI Process

Bay Area DUI Process Attorney

What Happens When you are Charged with Drunk Driving in the Bay Area?

You are enjoying some adult beverages with friends at your favorite Bay Area establishment. You realize that you have to be somewhere soon, and you are pretty sure you are okay to drive. While driving, you look down to read a text and find yourself swerving toward the edge of your lane. The next thing you see are flashing red lights and a San Francisco or CHP police car signaling you to pull over. At this point, you have no idea how to deal with the situation and what charges and penalties you might be facing if you are arrested for DUI.

The Stop and Arrest

If you were pulled over and have an odor of alcohol or marijuana on your breath, the officer likely suspected you of DUI before questioning even began. To confirm their suspicion, you were most likely asked to step out of your car and perform coordination tests on the side of the road (commonly referred to as field sobriety tests or FSTs). At the conclusion of those tests, you were probably asked if you would submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test.

Whether you submitted to these tests or not, the officer arrested you. You were most likely told you had to submit to a breath test or a blood draw, and maybe you did and maybe you did not submit to these tests. Either way, you were arrested and taken to the Intake and Release Center at 425 7th Street for booking into the San Francisco County Jail. After several hours, you were either released on your Own Recognizance (O.R.), meaning you signed a written promise to appear in court, or you posted bail.

After the Arrest

After being released from the San Francisco County jail, you have two legal proceedings to deal with:

  • An administrative proceeding before the California DMV regarding the suspension or revocation of your driver's license.
  • A criminal proceeding in the San Francisco County Superior Court for driving under the influence and/or driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. There may be additional charges, depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history.

The Administrative Driver's License Proceeding

Following a DUI arrest, the officer confiscates your driver's license and gives you a written notice stating that your license will be suspended after 30 days. If you are an out-of-state resident, your driver's license should not have been taken, but you are still facing a suspension of your privilege to drive in California. The length of your suspension depends on the totality of the circumstances in the case. For first-time DUI offenders, the administrative suspension period is four months (one year if you were under 21 or you refused a chemical test) with the possibility of obtaining a restricted driving permit after 30 days.

Important Note: After your San Francisco DUI arrest, you still have an opportunity to keep your driver's license and driving privileges. However, you must act immediately. You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing with the California DMV to challenge your license suspension.

The Criminal Process

The first court appearance after your drunk driving arrest is normally your arraignment. In San Francisco County, arraignments take place in the San Francisco Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant Street, usually in Department 17 on the second floor. At the arraignment, you or your attorney may enter a plea of "not guilty," "guilty," or "no contest." There is also a possibility of pleading guilty to a lesser charge or having the case dismissed. Sometimes the arraignment is continued to a later date or a motion challenging the sufficiency of the legal pleading is made (this latter action is referred to as a demurrer).

Before your arraignment, it is very important to speak with an experienced Bay Area drunk driving defense attorney to review your case. Being charged with DUI does not make you automatically guilty, and there may be weaknesses in the prosecution's case that can be used to have the charges reduced or dropped. A strong DUI defense lawyer can thoroughly analyze the specific circumstances of your case and formulate the most effective defense strategy to minimize the negative consequences.

Speak with a Board Certified San Francisco Bay Area DUI Attorney

If you are facing a drunk driving charge, the San Francisco DUI process can be frightening and confusing, and you may not know where to turn for help. Attorney Paul Burglin understands what you are going through. Since 1985, attorney Burglin has successfully defended thousands of motorists charged with DUI in the Bay Area. He is one of only five lawyers in the state that is Board-Certified by the National College of DUI Defense (as approved by the American Bar Association), and he co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide that is commonly referred to as the "Bible of DUI Defense."

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

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