Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can cost you more than just the loss of your license. If you ever find yourself charged with DUI, you should know you have only 10 days to contact the DMV Driver Safety Division to request a hearing. Otherwise your license will be suspended 30 days after the date of arrest. We can help with this and mitigate any suspension or penalties you face. Video explanation of DMV administrative hearing.
The Specifics of California's DUI Laws
Like other states, California DMV has stern laws regarding DUI.
- California observes implied consent laws, meaning drivers should agree to abide by the state's regulations and conditions to be given the privilege to drive—refusing blood, urine, and/or breath tests when asked for could result in penalties such as lengthy suspensions or license revocations, whether you're convicted or not.
- The state also observes an “open container law” or “public drinking law”, wherein drivers are prohibited from possessing and drinking alcohol from inside their automobiles. While this law often refers to only the motorists in some other states, California extends the scope of the law to include passengers as well.
Can bars, liquor stores or social hosts be held liable for a drunk driver who causes injury?
One of the most commonly asked questions is “if I have a party and serve alcohol, what would happen if one of my guests drinks too much, gets into an accident and hurts someone or causes property damage to occur to someone?”
A recent article in the July, 2015 issue of California Lawyer magazine by Brian Kabet and Douglas Rochen discusses this issue and surveys the case law in California. This was often referred to as “Dram Shop Liability” when it concerned bars or liquor stores who dispensed alcohol to a person later involved in a drunk driving accident. Although the law has shifted somewhat in its development, the simple answer is that there is no liability for a bar, restaurant or individual serving alcohol to an adult, even if that adult is already intoxicated.
This is not the case for serving alcohol to a minor, particularly an obviously intoxicated minor. California Civil Code Section 1714 expressly permits claims against a “parent, guardian, or another adult” who “knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence” to a person whom the provider knows, or should have of known, is under 21 years of age and when the furnishing of the alcohol is the proximate cause (legal cause) of substantial injury or death. This state of the law, however requires actual furnishing of the alcohol. It is not enough, for example, to simply leave a liquor cabinet at one's house unlocked while a party is going on with minors present.
The summary reached by the authors of the California Lawyer article is that “broad civil immunity remains in place for commercial providers of alcohol, as well as for social hosts. The sole exception is for commercial purveyors who supply, and social hosts who sell (intentionally furnish for some consideration), liquor to an already intoxicated minor.
The Immediate DMV Consequences Following a DUI Charge
In California, motorists arrested for drunk driving are subject to DMV sanctions. For the first offense, arrested drivers my have their licenses suspended for four to six months and are required to attend mandatory alcohol education classes to regain their license. Motorists with a second offense may have their licenses suspended for up to two years and mandatory education classes and could serve compulsory jail time. Drivers with a third offense may be suspended or revoked of their license for up to four years, must serve the aforementioned penalties from previous offenses, and may have their vehicle confiscated as a result.
Fines and Costs Following a DUI
Fines for a first offense conviction total approximately $2000.00 in California.
Should you be instructed to undergo mandatory alcohol education classes, you should be prepared to pay for sessions and treatments, as well as any additional insurance coverage you are responsible for. You will also be fined for the tests you undertook to determine your alcohol levels, and another charge to release your vehicle out of impound.
Other expenses may include the purchase and maintenance of an ignition interlock device, and restitution for damages you may have caused. It goes without saying that being charged with DUI will cost you and is considered expensive.
Negotiating for Dismissal or Reduced Sentences and/or Charges
It can be difficult to negotiate for a reduced sentence following an arrest for DUI, or ask for charges to be dismissed. You will need superior representation and support of a seasoned lawyer, particularly one that specializes in DUI cases. Your attorney should be able to help you navigate through the difficult parts of the legal process, and if he cannot have charges dismissed, he would push for your sentence or charges to be reduced.
Call (831) 624-5000 for more details.
From Salinas Valley, call 424-9900.
Attorney Tom Nash