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Understanding and navigating through a DUI case’s legal terminology is not nearly as intimidating or complicated as it may sound. In this guide, an attorney from San Francisco, CA breaks down the most common and important aspects of the process that he advises most clients to fully comprehend. The following is a A San Francisco DUI Lawyer’s Guide to Understanding the DUI Process:

1. BAC, BAL and Calculating Your DUI Limit:

A person is considered legally drunk when the alcohol in his or her body exceeds .08% BAC. The only way to find out your BAC is to get tested at a police station. If you do not submit to this test, then you are automatically convicted of the DUI. California has a three-tier system for DUI charges. The most serious of the offenses, a California blood alcohol level of .15% BAC or higher, is referred to as a “DUI”. If you are convicted of a DUI offense in California, you will be subject to fines, jail time and license suspension. The severity and penalties increase with the amount of BAC at which the driver was driving.

It is important for clients to understand that even if you are taken into custody after having .05% BAC or higher in your system, a DUI conviction will still apply. If a driver is convicted of a DUI, he or she can be sentenced to jail time and penalties ranging from $1000 to $12,000.

2. Legal Citation:

In order for law enforcement to make an arrest for a DUI, they must prove that the driver was in violation of a specific California traffic law. The arresting officer will write the person a ticket for the offense and notarize it as evidence that a DUI offense occurred. The citation will then go on your permanent driving record and could be used against you by insurance companies in connection with any future insurance claims related to the accident involved in your arrest.

3. Pending DUI Arrest

Before you are taken into custody, you will be given the opportunity to comply with a sobriety test administered by a police officer. You may refuse this test, but be aware that it is considered a refusal and you can be charged with an offense for this act. If you are not arrested immediately after failing an alcohol test, then you may still face alcohol-related penalties if your BAC is .08% or higher at the time of your arrest.

4. Sobriety Test:

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, officers may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test at the police station. Field sobriety tests are conducted by officers and have a series of questions designed to determine if you are intoxicated. These tests may be conducted in a variety of formats and may include an eye exam, a blood test, or a physical examination. Usually the arresting officer will try to minimize the length of these tests, but it will still take several hours for them to be administered and completed.

You can refuse this sobriety test in the same way that you refused the field test at your previous station or by refusing to submit to any further testing in front of law enforcement.

The DUI process can be intimidating, but with a knowledgeable attorney by your side, you will be sure to get through this difficult time in your life.