DUI Stop in California? Here’s What to Expect

California! With all the beaches, nightlife, beautiful cities, and tourism, this state seems like it could be one of the laxest states in the nation. While California can definitely be easy going, one thing it is far from relaxed on is DUIs. With Fresno, California being in the news for the strict consequences that the city has for DUIs, it brings up a few questions. What exactly happens during a DUI stop in California? What are the consequences? We're going to address these very questions right now!

Pulled Over DUI Stop

A California DUI CHeckpoint

In Fresno alone, there are 94 checkpoints for drunk driving! The state of California has many more. With over 200,000 DUI arrests a year, California has proven itself to be one of the toughest states on those that drive under the influence. If you are pulled over by an officer who suspects that you are under the influence, there are a few things you can expect, testing chief among them.

First, the officer will most likely assess the situation. If the officer does suspect you are under the influence, he/she will look for signs (slurred speech, glazed eyes, smell of alcohol on breath). If the officer still thinks that you are under the influence, the officer will ask you to step out of your vehicle and undergo “field sobriety tests.” According to The California Highway Patrolanyone granted the driving privilege is presumed to have given consent to law enforcement to conduct chemical testing of the motorist’s blood or breath.

Having a BAC of .08% or above constitutes driving under the influence for those twenty one years of age and above. If you are a commercial driver, then .04% and above is considered driving under the influence. For those that are younger than 21 years old, there is a no tolerance policy, and your license could be immediately revoked and suspended.

Types of DUI Testing

California has three types of typical "field sobriety" testing:

  • HGN Testing - Also known as the gaze test, this is a test where the officer observes whether or not the person’s eyes can follow a slow moving object (a pen).

  • Divided Attention Testing - In this test, the suspected person is required to listen and follow a simple set of directions, such as walking a straight line or standing on one foot.

  • Alternative Testing Methods - These tests may include counting aloud or reciting the alphabet.

A word of warning, refusing to take a blood, urine, or breath test in California has a minimum penalty of license suspension for at least one year. This is due to California’s implied consent law. Just because you refuse the test does not mean that you cannot be convicted by law. Be sure to consult an experienced California DUI defense attorney if you are pulled over and tested.

With hundreds of checkpoints in California, it is very important that one knows what to expect during a DUI stop. How will you ensure that you are not stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence?


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