For the millions of Americans who have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the DUI arrest process can be a very stressful ordeal. On top of the physical and emotional toll an arrest takes on you, you will also have to deal with the legal, professional, and social consequences of this arrest.
Any criminal defense attorney will tell you that you are innocent until proven guilty, but that won’t stop the news from reporting your DUI arrest or showing your photo on the new outlets. Every two minutes someone will be injured in a drunk driving car accident; some of them will even lose their lives. Not only that, but some drunk driving defendants make a bad situation worse. According to the National Safety Council, anywhere from 50% to 75% of convicted drunk drivers will eventually drive with a suspended license, which can make it more difficult for a Riverside criminal defense attorney to plead your case in court.
While a minority of DUI defendants are chronic, repeat offenders, and alcoholics, most people arrested for a DUI are ordinary people who made a mistake. Fortunately, with the help of the Riverside, California, DUI attorneys at Greenberg, Greenberg & Kenyon, APLC, first-time offenders can sometimes have their charges reduced or dropped. Few people ever expect to get arrested for drunk driving, so they often have a number of questions about what will happen next. Right now, it is important to arm yourself with all the information you can find.
Understanding the California DUI Arrest Process: Charges, DMV, Driver’s License Suspension, and Court
1. The Arrest, Booking, and Charges
There’s a reason the DUI arrest process can feel so humiliating: it’s designed to feel that way.
The entire process of arresting and booking people in the United States is designed to dehumanize them and make them more complacent while behind bars. It is a stressful experience that can take a serious emotional toll on a person, but it is also just the first step in a long legal process—one that can end with a trip to jail.
If a police officer has reason to believe you are driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they can pull you over and question you. For instance, if the officer smells alcohol, they may want to search the car for open containers. If a driver is pulled over for erratic driving, the officer may submit them to a roadside sobriety test. If you fail a preliminary chemical test, roadside sobriety test, or refuse to submit to chemical testing, then the officer may inform you that you are under arrest and take you to jail for booking. From there, you will be taken to a local jail or police station, where you will be searched, fingerprinted, and photographed. The amount of time you would spend behind bars can depend on overcrowding in the jail and your criminal history, as well as the circumstances of your drunk or drugged driving arrest.
Eventually, the police will release you and inform you of your specific charges. Additionally, they may confiscate your driver’s license and issue a Notice of Suspension.
Still have questions on the possible DUI penalties you’re facing? See our DUI Attorney Riverside FAQ for more information.
2. The California DMV DUI Process
After someone is arrested for a DUI in Riverside, CA, the arresting officer will forward a report to the California DMV, which will then review the documents and either reject or approve your driver’s license suspension. Remember: the DMV will notify you ONLY if the suspension is set aside. You have 10 days after receiving a driver’s license suspension to request a hearing with the DMV. At this hearing, you will have an opportunity to show that the revocation of your license is not justified.
Unlike in other states, the driver’s license suspension in California is not automatic. That is why it can be beneficial to find an experienced Riverside DUI attorney following an arrest.
3. California Driver’s License Suspension
How long will your driver’s license be suspended in California for a DUI offense?
For drivers under the age of 21, a preliminary blood alcohol content test of just 0.01% or more will likely result in a one-year license suspension. For drivers over 21, a BAC of 0.08% or more will likely result in a four-month driver’s license suspension. A second or additional DUI offense within 10 years may also result in a year-long suspension. After the suspension period is over, you can pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV to get your license back. If you refused to take a chemical or breath test, then you will face an automatic suspension of at least one year.
However, many people do not realize they may be able to request a restricted driving license to go to and from work. Contact the Riverside DUI lawyers at Greenberg, Greenberg & Kenyon, APLC for help navigating this complex process.
Still have questions about a driver’s license suspension in California? The CA DMV has some useful information.
Finally, there’s the court. This is where a DUI arrest can potentially become a DUI conviction, which can stay on your record for 10 years and result in jail time, additional fines, legal fees, probation, and more. Despite what you may have heard, San Bernardino and Riverside judges do not always go easy on first-time offenders, which is why so many people choose to hire local DUI lawyers to fight for them in court.
In some cases, DUI charges are reduced or dismissed without going to trial, but there are many factors that will affect the ultimate outcome of your case.
If you want to start developing a DUI defense before your day in court, then please don’t wait to contact the Riverside DUI attorneys with Greenberg, Greenberg & Kenyon, APLC. Our San Bernardino and Riverside DUI attorneys represent clients for first DUI charges, multiple DUIs, and even DMV hearings. Contact us today.