DWI Crimes Expanded

California has two basic drunk driving laws: (1) Under Penal Code 23152(a) it is a misdemeanor to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; and (2) Under Penal Code 23152(b) it is a misdemeanor to drive if your blood alcohol level is .08 or higher. Drivers licensed to drive in California are required to submit to a “chemical” test, which only means the official chemical breath, blood, or urine test.

Under California’s zero tolerance laws, drivers younger than 21 who have a blood alcohol reading of .01 or higher may be charged with a DUI. Where an underage driver has a blood alcohol level of .08 or above, they may be charged with DUI as an adult, as well as incurring the zero tolerance drunk driving penalties. Where an underage driver’s blood alcohol results measure between .01 and .05, the offense will typically be charged as a civil offense, while a blood alcohol of .05 or more will result in a criminal offense.

Owners or drivers of vehicles (including boats, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles) can be charged with violation of the open container law if law enforcement officers find an open container of alcohol in the vehicle they are driving. It is illegal for truckers to operate commercial vehicles if they have a blood alcohol reading higher than .04 percent.

A DUI may subject you to both a criminal court proceeding and a DMV hearing.

It is also important to note that if you work for the government or apply for a government position and/or have a license from the State of California (i.e., nurse, real estate agent, medical doctor, social worker, psychologist, attorney, teacher, etc.), the consequences of a DUI conviction can include termination of employment, denial of licensure, suspension, revocation, or probation.

When a person is charged with DUI/DWI, he or she may face two legal proceedings: one in the criminal court and one with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV hearing allows the person an opportunity to get their driver’s license back, and to avoid future suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.

Once a person is arrested for DUI, he or she has only ten days to contact the DMV and request a hearing to protest his/her license suspension. Thus, it is important to contact a lawyer immediately to help get you the best result at the courthouse, and also with the DMV.

The lawyers at Moran LLP understand the process of DMV hearings, and know how to move through the process efficiently and effectively. We will keep you updated on your case, answer your questions about the process, and help you protect your driving privileges.

A license suspension can range from 30 days to an indefinite period of time. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI, you can get your license reinstated if you make it through your mandatory suspension and/or complete your prison term, complete a DUI treatment program and file a Notice of Completion, and pay your court fines.

Even before you complete your mandatory suspension period, you may be eligible to obtain a restricted license from either the DMV or the court.

California law prohibits driving when you know that your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. Driving on a suspended or revoked license could subject you to county jail time and heavy fines.

If a death occurs due to drunk driving, reckless driving, speeding, gross negligence, or a hit and run, you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Most people think of “motor vehicles” as cars and trucks, but it can also include boats, ATVs, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles.

People charged with vehicular manslaughter may also be charged with other types of manslaughter.