Most state laws have determined safe-driving alcohol levels for individuals over the age of 21, but many people do not understand that there is the number of things that can cause a driver to be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of illegal drugs is always illegal. Many over-the-counter medications, including those that do not contain alcohol, may also cause impairment and make it dangerous to drive a car. Not only that, a doctor’s order does not justify the use of prescription medications prior to driving. If you are charged with a DUI, some things will be required by the department of motor vehicles and the courts. Other things may simply be recommended or aided by your lawyer.

Recommended by Lawyers

Most qualified DUI lawyers will advise clients to submit to chemical testing at the time of their first offense. This testing may consist of blood, breath, or urine samples in order to determine the quantity of drugs or alcohol present in the driver’s system. For convicted drivers over the age of 21, the first offense will result in only a four-month suspension if they submit to the requested chemical tests. However, refusal to submit to these tests will result in a full one-year suspension upon conviction. This is likely to cause an undue burden for those drivers that need to drive for the purposes of work or child care.

One thing that a good lawyer can assist clients with is the obtainment of a restricted license. After completing several court-ordered requirements, a restricted license will allow drivers to resume driving, usually to and from work, or as otherwise determined by the court. First-time offenders are required to not have had a DUI conviction in the past 10 years. Drivers must first complete mandatory 30-day suspension and must have agreed to chemical test at the time of arrest. Their license must also be in good standing, not suspended or revoked, when the charges were leveled. This privilege may be suspended if a participant is terminated or voluntarily drops from a required DUI program.

Required by Law

In addition to various fines and possible jail time, many sentencing guidelines require drivers to participate in a DUI program. Most often, the length of this program for first-time offenders will be determined by the driver’s blood-alcohol level (BAC). DUI programs may last from 30 to 60 hours to be completed in three to nine months. These programs will include 12 hours of drug and alcohol education, 10 to 44 hours of group counseling, and three 15-minute individual interviews. A list of certified DUI programs can be supplied by the courts or your lawyer. Online DUI schools are not yet approved or licensed in California and will not be accepted by the courts. Proof of completion will be needed by the courts, but a driver’s enrollment is only required if he or she is applying for a restricted license.

Upon completion of court-ordered penalties, drivers may be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in their vehicle. This device requires drivers to blow into a mouthpiece before starting the vehicle and continued breath-testing during operation of the vehicle. If the IID detects a BAC above the devices limit, the engine will not start. During vehicle operation, the IID will sound alarms and flashlights until the driver turns off the engine. The use of these devices is usually required when a driver’s BAC is at higher than 0.15 percent. This regulation may also be imposed if the driver had traffic violations prior to the DUI or refused chemical testing at the time of arrest. California requires the use of this device for anyone convicted of a DUI in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Tulare counties. California requires IID providers to be licensed in the state, but a qualified DUI lawyer can assist you in finding a state-approved provider.

In addition to the above requirements, DUI convictions will often result in up to six months in jail, $1,000 in fines, and license reissue fees. BAC is a clear indicator of alcohol intoxication, but other drugs and the levels at which they may cause impairment are still undetermined. In those cases, law enforcement officials are trained to observe driver behavior. Indicators can include weaving, reckless maneuvers, failure to observe street signs, or slow reactions to hazards or sudden events. In conclusion, a DUI conviction does not have to bar a driver from re-obtaining their license once all of their court-ordered requirements have been fulfilled.