Driving under the influence in California includes operating a motor vehicle while impaired from the use of alcohol or drugs. Police officers must pull over any drivers who appear to be driving while impaired from the use of these substances. If a traffic stop results in a finding that the driver is intoxicated, he or she is likely to be arrested.
The officer at the scene will use field sobriety tests to confirm or disprove suspicions that a driver is intoxicated. However, criminal law mandates that a court provide proof that the driver was operating a motor vehicle under the influence before a conviction for DUI happens.
Motorists are often pulled over for suspicion of DUI after an officer observes them driving erratically. The types of driving that may alert a police officer to the possibility that a driver is intoxicated include driving too slow or too fast, or it may involve a driver’s inability to maintain a steady position in one lane.
Standardized field sobriety tests that the officer may use during the traffic stop include the walk-and-turn, one-legged stand and horizontal gaze nystagmus. A driver who performs poorly at these tests will likely take a ride to the police station where blood or breath tests might be administered. A blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or more will serve as evidence of DUI in court.
The consequences of a DUI conviction can include fines, loss of driving privileges and time in jail. First-time offenders may be able to avoid jail time by accepting a probated sentence. However, repeat offenders could find themselves in state prison for years of their lives.
Driving a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a threat to the safety of the driver. Drunk or impaired drivers also put the lives of motorists who share the road with them at risk. Court systems in the state have adopted stiff measures and punishments to deter this potentially dangerous behavior. Individuals arrested for suspicion of DUI may be able to minimize or eliminate the punishment they could receive by involving a criminal defense attorney as early as possible in the process.