Frequently Asked Questions


Does it matter where in California I am arrested for DUI?

The laws against drunk driving are the same throughout California. The principal statutes relating to drunk driving are found in the California Vehicle Code. However, there are procedural and practical variations in how DUI cases are handled in different counties and even between different superior courts county. For example, the caseload and calendar of in one county court and the judge will affect the time between events in your case. The first pre-trial conference might be set for 4 months out, while in another county court, it might be set for only 3-4 weeks out. 

Do I have the right to refuse the intoxication tests?

YES and NO. If you are 21 or over, you may refuse the roadside sobriety tests and the roadside breathalyzer test (also called a PAS, or “preliminary alcohol screening” test). However, if you are under 21, you may not refuse the roadside tests legally.

Once you are arrested, regardless of age, by law, you must submit to a chemical test. However, you have the right to choose between those tests made available by the arresting officers, i.e., blood test, breathalyzer, or urine test. Not all of these tests are available in all districts, and you may not refuse to be tested (without consequences, that is) just because the test you would prefer is not available. The blood alcohol test is considered the most accurate of the three tests, and the urine test the least accurate (for alcohol).

In California, the urine test is generally no longer used when only alcohol-related DUI is suspected (if other drugs are suspected, the police will probably insist on a urine or blood test).

Why was I charged with two offenses?

California and most other states have enlarged the original DUI (“Driving Under the Influence”) offense into two separate offenses: (1) driving while impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs (Vehicle Code §23152(a); OR (2) driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than .08% (Vehicle Code §23152(b). That is, In California, an adult is “per se” DUI if his or her BAC is .08% or greater, regardless of whether the person exhibits any sign of impaired driving ability.

These two separate offenses are usually charged in a DUI case. You may be convicted of both, but, in most circumstances, you will be sentenced for only one. So, generally, the main effect is just to give the prosecution two chances at conviction.

Does Age Matter?

YES, it does. If the driver is under 21 years of age, the driver is considered per se DUI if his/her BAC is .05% or greater. A driver under 21 is not allowed to refuse the roadside sobriety tests, including the inaccurate handheld PAS breathalyzer test. Furthermore, if you are under 21, the DMV will suspend your license if you had a blood alcohol concentration of only .01%. DUI drivers under 21 may also face other enhanced hurdles, which they should discuss with their attorney.

Should I Request the DMV Hearing?

YES. The result of the DMV hearing will not affect the outcome of the charges against you in Court, but it will determine whether your license to drive remains suspended pending the outcome at Court. If you fail to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the notice of suspension given you when your license was confiscated, the DMV will automatically suspend your license for the time set by law–regardless of the outcome of your DUI court case. As a bonus for requesting the DMV hearing, if the DMV sets the hearing for a date after the expiration of the 30-day temporary driving permit given you by the officer who confiscated your driver’s license, in most cases, your attorney will be able to get the permit extended until the date of the hearing.

Can I be found guilty of DUI if I was taking drugs prescribed by my doctor?

YES, if the medication affected your ability to drive. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that he or she is able to drive safely. For purposes of California’s DUI laws, “drugs” include over the counter and prescription drugs, including medications for colds and allergies. It is also no defense that the drug rendering the driver impaired was prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition. However, if the driver experienced an unexpected and/or unusual reaction to medication that a reasonable person would not have anticipated, that may in some circumstances, furnish a defense–consult with your attorney.

However, on a slightly different topic, many ingested substances that do not affect your ability to drive will affect the results of a breath test, causing it falsely to indicate that you are above the legal BAC limit. The same is true of certain medical conditions. Be sure to discuss these possibilities with your attorney.

Do the DUI laws only apply to driving an automobile on a public highway?

Driving while under the influence is generally prohibited whenever you drive any kind of vehicle. For purposes of the principal DUI statutes, a “vehicle” is defined as: “A device by which any person or property may be propelled, or drawn upon a highway, except a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” Vehicle Code § 670. That would include all motorized vehicles. Does that mean you are safe driving a human-powered bicycle while intoxicated? Not in California.  Vehicle Code section 21200 specifically states it is unlawful to ride a bike under the influence. Furthermore, California courts have interpreted the DUI laws to apply even when the driver is driving on a private road instead of a highway.

What about drinking while operating a boat?

Different statutes apply, but the offense is essentially the same. The California Harbors and Navigation Code section 655 provides:

(b) No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.

(c) No person shall operate any recreational vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more in his or her blood.

(d) No person shall operate any vessel other than a recreational vessel if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more in his or her blood.

The penalties for boating under the influence are similar to those for vehicular DUI. A conviction for DUI boating also counts as a prior conviction for purposes of subsequent vehicular DUI.

If I was stopped for DUI while driving a commercial vehicle, do the same laws apply?

Additional laws setting higher standards apply to drivers of commercial vehicles. For example, a driver of a commercial vehicle is considered DUI if found to have a blood alcohol concentration of only .04 percent. If you were charged for DUI while driving a commercial vehicle, be sure to discuss the ramifications with your attorney as soon as possible.

What if I need to drive to work or school, but my license was suspended?

If you need to drive to work or school, you may be able to obtain a restricted driving license if certain conditions are met. Consult your attorney regarding your particular circumstances.

Should I take a Plea Bargain or go to Trial?

That will depend on the evidence against you weighed against the deal that the DA’s office is willing to offer. After investigating the evidence, we will always press the DA’s office for an offer of the best plea bargain possible, advise you of your chances at trial, and let you make the decision.

If the DA’s office sees that you are represented by counsel who are scrutinizing the evidence for procedural and other defects, who are willing to take the case to trial, it is likely at some point to offer you a fairly attractive deal (compared to the possible sentence that you could receive) to avoid the risk of an outright acquittal at trial. Conversely, if we think the evidence against you is weak, or if we find serious technical defects in the prosecution’s case, we may advise you to reject all offers and go to trial. In all cases, it will be your informed decision.


What is the Ignition Interlock Device Program?

Effective January 1, 2019, California DUI law changed. 
All repeat DUI offenders and all injury-involved DUI offenders are required to install an ignition interlock. First time DUI offenders will receive a 30-day temporary license after an arrest. To keep driving beyond the 30 days, install an ignition interlock as soon as possible.

We at the ACADEMY OF DEFENSIVE DRIVING – can assist you with the installation of this Ignition Interlock Device. Check with the Office Staff for details.

Are Ignition Interlock Devices trusted devices?

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) ensures the driver successfully passes a breathalyzer test before starting the vehicle.

How do you cheat on an ignition interlock device?

When you have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, you cannot start the car after you have been drinking. If it detects alcohol on your breath, the device will not allow the car to start. But we know — you have somewhere important to be! Knowing how to get around ignition interlock devices could make it easier for you to get to where you need to be. The reality, however, is that attempting to use an Ignition Interlock Device hack could cause more problems than you expect.

Academy of Defensive Driving, Inc

The Most Common Hacks Simply Do Not Work

1.) Try using compressed air to 'blow' into the device.

(A.) Compressed air, according to the popular theory, should give the impression of air that does not have any hint of alcohol. However, it also has a drastically cooler temperature than your breath. Not only that, but the device camera will also note you were using something other than your breath to start the car, which could lead to trouble later.

2.) Have someone else blow into the device for you.

(A.) Sure, you could have a friend blow into the device and start your car. Of course, you are then making your friend an accessory to a crime. The camera on the device will note that you are not the one attempting to start the car and record the other party’s face. Then, if you are stopped for drinking and driving or involved in an accident, the camera will provide evidence that will implicate your friend.

(B.)  Not only that, but the device may ask for a rolling retest, checking your breath alcohol concentration (BAC) while you are driving. If you attempt this ignition interlock hack, you will likely end up having to stop halfway to your destination — and that is if the device allows you to start the vehicle in the first place.

3.) Just disconnect the device.

(A.) Tampering with the interlock device could result in expulsion from the program, which means you will lose your provisional license and your ability to drive altogether. These types of violations could also be subject to additional criminal charges , including jail time.

4.) Try hiding the alcohol on your breath.

(A.) There are numerous methods across the internet for hiding the alcohol on your breath to fool the ignition interlock device. This hack, however, does not work. Modern technology senses the alcohol on your breath regardless of what else you have tried to eat or drink.

Do interlock devices mess up your car?

Because the ignition interlock device is installed into the wiring of the vehicle, it will do no damage, assuming you have it removed by a reputable installer. ... Ignition interlock devices are designed to work with your vehicle to prevent you from driving after you have been drinking.

How Long Will 2 beers show up on a Breathalyzer?

Generally, a breathalyzer test can test positive for alcohol for up to 12 hours after consuming one alcoholic drink. The average urine test can also detect alcohol 12-48 hours later. If your BAC is 0.08, it will take approximately 5 hours to metabolize the alcohol completely before you can become “sober” again.

How often does interlock stop?

It will likely be several times an hour. When your device alerts you through sounds, lights, or screen messages (or all 3) that it is time for a rolling retest, you have about 5 minutes to submit the breath sample.

Does the interlock drain your battery?

The answer is no: under normal conditions, an ignition interlock will not cause any excessive drain on your car's battery. An interlock does use current to monitor certain aspects of your vehicle at all times. ...Even a brand-new battery needs charging with regular driving.

What if my battery dies with the Ignition Interlock Device?

When your car's battery dies or is disconnected, your interlock device will record the event as a potential violation, since tampering with the car's battery could occur when someone tries to bypass their interlock device.

We at the ACADEMY OF DEFENSIVE DRIVING – can assist you with the installation of this Ignition Interlock Device. Check with the Office Staff for details.