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Can you still drive after a DUI arrest in California?

If you plan a nice evening out with friends in California, you likely expect that, barring any major complications or unforeseen circumstances, you'll safely arrive at your destination, enjoy a few hours of good food, drink and conversation, then travel back home, toting memories of good times and good friends. There's obviously no way to predict the future, however, and sometimes things don't always go as planned, especially if the "good drink" portion of your evening involves alcohol.

Have you thought ahead to what would happen if police pull you over on your way home and charge you with DUI? You might scoff at such an idea, especially if you know you'd only imbibe a drink or two because you're a responsible driver. You might be surprised how many people wind up in such situations, some who never even touched a drop of alcohol before getting behind the wheel!

What does the law say about driving after DUI charges?

Life can change on a dime if a police officer suspects you of drunk driving. You may wonder whether you'd even be able to drive to work, providing you were released from jail after your arrest. Following are ways a DUI can affect your driver's license and ability to operate a motor vehicle:

  • If it's the first time you've been arrested on a drunk driving suspicion, charges would likely be misdemeanors.
  • If you were involved in a motor vehicle collision that injured or killed another person, you may face felony charges, even if it's a first offense.
  • The level of charges affects the potential penalties carried under conviction.
  • In this state, you may incur administrative or criminal suspension of your driver's license in various circumstances. The former is an automatic suspension that comes from refusing to take a chemical test, registering .08 blood alcohol content if you're over age 21 or registering .01 BAC if you're under age 21. The latter is a suspension a judge may include as part of a sentence following conviction for DUI.
  • You may be required to install an interlock breath test device in your car as a stipulation for operating a motor vehicle if the court convicts you of drunk driving. The length of time the device must remain installed varies according the details of your case, such as whether it is a first offense or whether it is a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

It's understandable that you or anyone facing DUI charges might worry about possible long-term consequences, such as how a particular situation may limit the ability to travel, work or perform simple life functions, such as grocery shopping, going to school or visiting friends. There's no need to panic if police file charges against you, however, as many California motorists are able to avoid conviction by presenting strong defenses in court.

A logical step to take if your night on the town lands you in handcuffs is to reach out for support within the criminal defense community. Acting alongside a personal legal advocate may be your best bet to staying out of jail and getting life back on track with minimum negative repercussions.

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