Dispelling Common DUI Myths
Prior to the pandemic lockdown in 2020, more than 127,000 people were arrested in one year for DUI in California. Although a significant decrease in that number was expected while people sheltered in place and worked from home, the state is in now the process of reopening. This increases the potential for DUI arrests.
If you have been charged with a DUI, you might be wondering what to do next. What you should not do is attempt to navigate the legal process on your own or believe the myths you have heard about DUIs. A DUI is a serious charge that could have a permanent, negative effect on your life, so you need to get the facts.
At McCready Law Group, I have represented clients arrested for DUIs for more than 15 years. If you have been arrested and live in the Long Beach, Cypress Hill, or Lakewood areas of California, call my office today.
How Tough Are DUI Charges in California?
California has no tolerance for those who operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any controlled substance. Every California driver gives “implied consent” to undergo a blood alcohol test if legally stopped by law enforcement. The prosecution needs no proof that you were impaired if your blood alcohol content was at least .08%. That percentage alone can result in a DUI conviction, and it usually does.
5 Common Myths & Facts About DUI Charges
As with any complex legal matter or criminal charge, there are many common misconceptions about DUIs. Understanding them will give you more knowledge about your situation.
A California DUI charge isn’t worth fighting. Just take the hit and move on.
Myth - You can take this route, but it’s a bad idea. Any criminal charge is worth fighting, including a drunk driving charge. Even a first offense with a BAC of .08% can result in six months of probation, up to a $1,000 fine, a six-month license suspension, and the mandatory use of an ignition interlock device for up to six months. Penalties for second and third offenses within a 10-year period (and for those with higher BACs) are even greater. A good criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the traffic stop or prove that the tests were improperly conducted. Furthermore, a DUI conviction can result in temporary or permanent loss of a professional license. That can destroy careers in healthcare, construction and trades, law enforcement, education, and government, as well as the careers of lawyers, accountants, and other professionals.
I am not required to answer questions asked by the law enforcement officer.
Fact - While you should be polite and respectful to the officer who pulls you over, you do not have to answer questions. In fact, because you will be nervous, it is better that you simply tell the officer that you will not answer any questions until you have spoken with your attorney. You are, however, required to give the officer your name, license, and registration information upon request.
I must submit to a field sobriety test.
Myth - You are under no legal obligation to submit to a field sobriety test. These tests are unscientific and unreliable as evidence of impaired driving. Eye responses can be affected by flashing lights or headlights. Balance tests can be affected by uneven pavement or rough ground. Many people have difficulty saying the alphabet in reverse order even when stone-cold sober. Moreover, if you take the field sobriety test and do not perform well, the officer will note it in the report, and that can work against you. Simply tell the officer that your attorney has advised you to not submit to a field sobriety test.
You have to submit to a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test.
Fact - As long as the stop is justified, you have given “implied consent” as a California driver, so you must submit to these tests. Refusal results in the immediate suspension of your license and may result in more severe punishments than those incurred had you taken the tests. Under certain circumstances, a good criminal defense attorney can challenge even these results.
You can’t be arrested for a DUI unless you’re driving.
Myth - You can be arrested if it can be presumed that you were driving the vehicle. For example, if you are seated in the driver’s seat in a parked vehicle with the keys in the ignition, there is a presumption of driving. However, if you are sleeping in a parked vehicle in a parking lot and there are no keys in the ignition, there may not be that presumption. Again, an experienced DUI defense attorney can challenge the circumstances if you were arrested even though you were not actually driving.
DUI Defense Attorney Serving Long Beach, California
Perhaps the greatest myth is believing that you should represent yourself if you have been charged with DUI. The criminal record that will follow you can devastate your life. Although the conviction will not remain on your record forever, it will be there for 10 years. Even after you complete your punishment, the DUI could mean losing jobs or promotions, causing financial stress, straining personal relationships, or even affecting custody of your children.
At McCready Law Group, I deal in facts with clients who have been arrested and charged with DUI offenses in Long Beach, Cypress Hill, and Lakewood, California. I spent eight years as a law enforcement officer with the Los Angeles Police Department before choosing to become a criminal defense attorney. My background provides unique insights into DUI offenses and using the law to defend those charged with them. Call my office now and get the facts about California DUIs.