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What To Do If You’re Pulled Over For DUI in California

What To Do If You’re Pulled Over For DUI in California

Getting pulled over for a suspected DUI is a situation in which you hope to never find yourself. However, should this exact situation come about, it’s wise to know your rights in terms of the California law. It’s also a good idea to know what to do and what not to do, so you don’t make your situation worse. Thankfully, Premier Criminal Defense has you covered. Read on to learn more about California DUI codes and what you should do if you find yourself in this situation:

California DUI Law Codes

Just like every other state, California has its own set of regulations and laws on the books pertaining to driving under the influence cases. These stipulations are outlined in California legislative codes CA Vehicle Code 23152 (a) and CA Vehicle Code 23152(b). Here is a breakdown of these codes:

  • CA Vehicle Code 23152 (a): This DUI law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle on California roadways while under the influence of alcohol. Under the influence here means that your mental or physical abilities are impaired to the point of no longer being able to drive safely. Even if your blood alcohol concentration is below 0.08%, you can be prosecuted as a motorist in California under the subjective code 23152 (a).
  • CA Vehicle Code 23152(b): This law makes it a criminal offense for you to drive a motor vehicle on California roadways while your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. It is often referred to as the “per se” law. It means that if someone is driving over the BAC limit, they are automatically guilty of a DUI, even if an officer can’t prove they were showing signs of physical or impairment.

Both parts of Vehicle Code 23152 are enforced to charge drivers with DUI. One, 23152 (a), is mainly about the physical signs of impairments, swerving, speeding, going too slow, driving erratically or without caution, etc., and subsequent condition of the driver, i.e. slurred speech, watery, red eyes, the smell of alcohol, unsteady gait, while the other, 23152 (b), is based strictly on the blood alcohol concentration levels alone. Both are used in conjunction with the other to prove a California driver is driving impaired.

Dos and Don’ts if You Are Pulled Over For a Suspected DUI in California

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being pulled over for suspected DUI, there are certain things you should and should not do to create a better outcome for yourself. They are as follows:


  • Don’t Agree to Field Sobriety Tests: The officer will likely ask and even demand you undergo some sort of field sobriety test. Refuse to participate. Field sobriety tests include standing on one leg, the walk-and-turn test, the Rhomberg balance test, and the finger-to-nose test. (This does not include refusal to take chemical tests, only field sobriety tests).
  • Don’t Agree to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Test: This is a portable breath testing machine. You are not legally required to take the test unless you are under the age of 21 or are currently on probation for a prior DUI.


  • Stay Calm: Don’t panic if you see the flashing lights in your rearview. Be polite, pull over as quickly as possible, and remain calm.
  • Stay Quiet: If possible, don’t say anything more than you must to the officer. Anything you say can and will be used against you. Don’t answer any incriminating questions that you can avoid by remaining silent. This is your right.
  • Do The Chemical Test: If you are arrested despite your best efforts and being polite, you will need to submit to a chemical test once under arrest according to California’s “implied consent” law or the search-incident-to-arrest exception (if there is probable cause for your DUI arrest). Refusal for this particular type of test could lead to a sentence enhancement if convicted and will likely end in a suspended driving license for at least a year. 
  • Lawyer Up: Staying calm and being polite will only get you so far. The faster you hire a skilled lawyer to defend you, the better your outcome will be. Premier Criminal Defense provides unrelenting, experienced legal representation for both sides of DUI cases in San Diego and across California. We fight for our clients at their hearings with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and in criminal court, working diligently to protect their licenses and their freedom.

Bottom Line

Ideally, you want to minimize probable cause by limiting your interaction with police as much as possible. Remember, stay calm, be polite and call us as soon as possible. Let us get to work on your DUI case today. Don’t wait! The quicker we can get involved, the better. Fill out our contact form for a free DUI case review today.