The Holiday Season & Driving Under The Influence (DUI)

December 24, 2008

The holiday season is filled with celebration, good times…and of course, plenty of alcohol. It is no wonder that this time of year experiences some of the highest arrest rates for driving under the influence (DUI). Police agencies often set up check points during this time of year to catch potential violators. One should never drink and drive. But if you or a loved are arrested, understanding the complex legal system related to this area of law is crucial.

Women should be aware of the differences between themselves and men with respect to alcohol consumption and DUI. The difference is not in the law, or how it’s applied, but rather in the fact that women absorb alcohol faster than men because they generally weigh less. A two-hundred pound man, for example, may not be over the legal limit after 2 drinks, whereas a 120 pound woman may very well be. This is not to say that a heavier woman has a free pass to consume more alcohol. There are other important factors such as food intake, metabolism, and duration between drinks, among others, that also play a crucial role in determining blood alcohol level.

In California, fines and penalties for DUI have steadily increased. The California legislature has determined that a DUI violation is a serious violation of the law and has established a complex legal framework for handling these violations. An arrest for DUI can potentially result in severe fines, community service, alcohol programs and jail.

A mistaken belief that there is only a criminal case pending against one arrested for DUI is common. Many do not realize that they now have a battle on two fronts: 1. the criminal case itself; and 2. the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) – with respect to the suspension of their driver’s license

When one is arrested for DUI in California, the police confiscate their driver’s license and issue a temporary license for a thirty (30) period. One MUST then contact the DMV within ten (10) days of the arrest to request a “stay” of the license suspension and a DMV hearing to contest the DUI arrest. If one fails to request the “stay” and hearing within ten (10) days, their temporary driver’s license will expire after thirty (30) days, and they are unable to legally drive a motor vehicle.

California Vehicle Code Sections 23152 and 23153, state in part:

  • It is criminal violation to operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.
  • It is a criminal violation to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of over .01, if you are under the age of 21.
  • It is a criminal violation to have an opened container of alcohol in a vehicle upon a roadway, unless the container is kept out of the immediate control of its occupants.
  • Anyone arrested for driving under the influence must submit to a chemical test (blood or breath) to determine the alcohol content of the blood. Failure to complete or refusal to take the test will result in suspension of the driver’s license for one year.

The consequences and potential harm one can cause by drinking and driving can last a lifetime. This holiday season, be safe and designate a driver.