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What to Expect if You Are Arrested for a First-Time DUI

 Posted on March 01,2019 in DUI

Santa Cruz first time DUI defense lawyerAnyone can be pulled over while driving, and if you are DUI of drugs or alcohol, a routine traffic stop can lead to an arrest. A DUI arrest can be a scary experience, and you may not know what to expect. However, understanding what will happen if you are pulled over and arrested for a first-time DUI will make the experience easier to handle. 

Even if you feel under control behind the wheel, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than .08% this is considered drunk driving, and you can be arrested on DUI charges. In many cases, a driver will be pulled over for a different reason, such as having a tail light out or speeding. If the police officer who pulls you over has reasonable cause to believe you are under the influence, they can ask you to take Field Sobriety Tests. These tests consist of being asked to get out of your car and performing tasks meant to assess your cognitive functions and ability to operate your vehicle safely, such as reciting the alphabet or walking in a straight line (whether these tests accurately assess alcohol influence is another subject altogether). You may also be asked to take a Preliminary Alcohol Screening, which is also known as a breathalyzer test. This test will measure your BAC, and it often determines whether an arrest can be made.  

If you fail (or as the report may state “did not complete as explained and demonstrated”) or refuse these tests, the police officer will likely arrest you for DUI, and you will be transported to jail or a sobering center and formally charged. You will be asked to take a chemical BAC test of your breath or blood. If you refuse the post-arrest “chemical test” of your blood or breath, or fail to complete it, this can lead to a lengthy suspension of your license – even if you are under the limit. The officer will likely take your driver’s license and issue you a pink temporary license, which kicks off an administrative process at DMV that is separate from the court process.  If you do not request an administrative hearing with the DMV within 10 days, your license will be automatically suspended.

In most cases, a first-time DUI offense is considered a misdemeanor. A conviction or guilty plea will usually result in your license being suspended for at least six months, although you may be able to regain your driving privileges if you agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. You will be required to pay a fine and participate in an alcohol education program, and you will typically be placed on probation for up to five years. While the law allows for a jail sentence of up to six months, first-time offenders are often given alternatives to actual custody. 

Contact a Santa Cruz DUI Attorney

If your first time DUI charges lead to a criminal trial, you will need an experienced Santa Cruz DUI lawyer who knows how to challenge the prosecution and the case against you. Call our offices at 831-426-5800 for a free consultation. 


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