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 From an emotional standpoint, a case where someone is accused driving under the influence and killing another person is one of the toughest.  With the victim, you usually have someone who did not deserve to die.  They are often young, in the prime of their lives.  They are usually also close to the driver.  The victim is often a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or sibling of the accused.  Unfortunately, that person is not available to express forgiveness to the driver.
 
As for the driver, you often have a person who has never been in trouble in his life.  He may be college educated, have a great job, and a loving family.  But for this horrible incident he would have continued to be an upstanding citizen.
 
Recently, a San Jose woman pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter after hitting and killing a 79 year old grandmother.  She is waiting to be sentenced by a Santa Clara County judge.  Her maximum possible sentence is 12 years in the state prison.  In fact, the judge is precluded from granting this woman probation unless he finds “unusual circumstances” where the interests of justice require it.  According to statements, the family of the victim has forgiven the defendant, and believes that the victim would forgive her as well.  Unfortunately, California DUI sentencing law provides somewhat less opportunity for the Court to forgive her. 

As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that, regardless of the outcome, nobody wins in these cases.  Regardless of what side you are on there is nothing but tragedy in these cases.  An innocent victim loses her life, and a contrite survivor is cast into the hell of the California prison system.  

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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Before you get out on the roads in California, there are simple ways to avoid a DUI stop.  The most common reasons for a California police officer to stop a vehicle are :

  1. Driving on or over the lane divider;
  2. Drifting into the other lane;
  3. Making a wide turn;
  4. Making an illegal turn;
  5. Weaving or swerving;
  6. Frequent braking, or inappropriate braking;
  7. Nearly missing an object, pedestrian, or another car;
  8. Driving over or under the speed limit;
  9. Driving at night with the headlights off;
  10. Failing to initiate a turn signal, or leaving the turn signal on;
  11. Stopping in the middle of the road;
  12. Following a car too closely;
  13. Accelerating or deaccelerating too quickly.

Being careful when you drive will significantly lower your chances of a DUI in California.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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As a San Francisco DUI attorney, many clients inquire about how to avoid a DUI charge in the first place.  I have discussed the "rules of the road" which give the San Francisco police officer or California Highway Patrol officer probable cause to stop your vehicle.

THere are other things you can do before you even go out for a few drinks, whether it's a road trip to San Jose, or a short trip to the Richmond District.  Know your vehicle.  If you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with your car, you are more likely to make mistakes.  If you fit in this category, sit in the car before you leave.  Take a moment to know where everything is before you start to drive.  Simple things such as turn signal levers, emergency brake lights, headlights, high beams, windshield wipers and so on.  Adjust the seat and steering wheel BEFORE you drive away. 

If you normally drive a car with a clutch, acclimate yourself to an automatic transmission.  Drive the vehicle for a while before you make your trip. 

Another thing you should do is make sure everything works in the vehicle.  All the lights are in good working order, the registration tags are current, and so on.  Avoid being stopped simply because your tail light is out, or broken.

Taking the time to go over the car itself can make your evening more enjoyable, and avoids an arrest for a vehicle infraction while you're driving home in San Francisco.  Don't make the officer's job easy.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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As a San Francisco DUI lawyer, I have clients come into my office from all over the Bay Area with their DUI citation.  Once I get the police report, I become frustrated by the statements made by the client to the police officer.  The problem is that most people do not know that they have the right to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate them before they are arrested. 

It is important to know that everything you say from the point you are approached y the officer until you are released from custody can, and most likely will, be in a subsequent police report, and it may be used against you at trial.  You do not have to say anything to the officer other than your name and insurance information.  Do not offer information such as "I only had three beers" or "I'm upset because my boyfriend broke up with me."  Don't make jokes to the officer.  Don't argue with the officer, or swear at the officer.  You will later regret it.

While it is possible for a DUI attorney to get the statements thrown out, it is possibly that a judge may leave them intact.  They will then be intact for a jury to hear. 

So remember, be quiet, give out only essential information, and hope for the best.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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After a night out with your family in the Mission District of San Francisco, where you had too much to drink at dinner, you are stopped by a San Francisco police officer.  The embarassment of being arrested for DUI in front of your family is humiliating.  You get released the next day, and figure all you need to worry about is the DUI charge, and trying to keep your license at the DMV hearing.

Wrong.  As any San Francisco DUI attorney can tell you, there are potential enhancements and additional charges that can come out of that family night out.  The most serious is a misdemeanor child endangerment charge.  You were driving, under the influence, with your young chidren in the car with you.  This can add jail time and fines to your DUI charge.  It potentially could involve the child welfare department, depending on the circumstances, and the blood alcohol level.

Obviously a DUI, and a loss of license privileges, will create even more problems for your family.  In addition, potential jail time, enhanced by the child endangerment charge, will cause havoc for you and your family.  While a good DUI attorney can work to reduce the impact of the child endangerment charge, including dismissal of the charge, it is something to keep in mind when you go out with your family, and consume alcohol.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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Whether you are driving in the Richmond District in San Francisco, or asleep at the wheel in the Mission District, it is important to know what exactly is "drunk driving" in California.

The legal definitions of "driving" and "drunk" can be inteprreted in many ways.  You can be driving even though you are approached by a police officer in a parked park with the engine off, or in an accident with the keys out of the ignition.  The key is whether the police, and the District Attorney, can place you in the driver's seat.

Being "drunk" doesn't necessarily mean having a lot of drinks in the SOMA area.  The key is whether you are legally impaired.  This can be accomplished not only by alcohol, but illicit drugs, prescribed drugs, cough mediicine, or other substances which impair your ability to drive.

Obviously, once you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, a qualified DUI attorney in the San Francisco area can help determine whether you fall into the legal definitions under the law.

Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You are applying for a new job.  You are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime.  You remember back to that DUI you got when you were out on the town in the Richmond District in San Francisco three years ago.  You have to admit that you have a DUI.  Say good bye to that job.  Even if the question isn't on the application form, your potential employer will run a criminal background check, and that DUI will be there.

What do you do?  One option is to expunge your DUI record from your criminal history.  If you have successfully completed probation, paid all your fines, committed no other crimes (other than traffic infraction tickets) you can petition the court to expunge or erase the conviction.  When the Court grants your petition, you can mark "No" on an employment application asking for criminal conviction. 

The expungement does not free you from future enhancements if you get another DUI, nor does it prevent you from admitting to a conviction that was expunged for certain California licenses and immigration applications.  But it does allow you to lessen the burden of a prior conviction to let you get that job you want.

A qualified San Francisco DUI can explain the process of expungement and its benefits, and prepare your petition.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You've gone out for drinks in San Francisco.  Later, on the ride home through the SOMA district, you get stopped by the San Francisco police.  You are arrested, and a subsequent Blood Alcohol Content test has you at 0.14, over the legal limit in California.  When you are arrested in California, there are two different cases:  the criminal case and the Department of Motor Vehicle administrative case.

You must request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest.  Otherwise you automatically lose.  By losing, you lose your license for 120 days.  You also need to obtain SR-22 insurance proving you in fact have insurance.  You will need to obtain proof of enrollment in a DUI school for at least three months.

If you have a DMV hearing and win, and you win your criminal matter, then nothing will happen to your license.  If you, however, lose your DMV hearing, but win your criminal matter, you still need to get the SR-22 insurance proof, take the DUI school, and have your license suspended.  Why?  Because the DMV case and the criminal matter are completely separate, and one does not effect the other.

Hiring a qualified DUI attorney in San Francisco will help guide you through the maze of the DUI laws, and explain the consequences of every possible result from a DUI arrest.

Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You have your first court date in San Francisco Superior Court coming up.  It's the arraignment, where you'll get a copy of your charges filed by the District Attorney.  The judge asks you what your plea is.  You just want this all to end.  What are your options?

If you plead guilty, the judge will then find you guilty of a DUI.  You will be sentenced on that day to jail time, huge fines, a DUI three month course, probation, and a permanent conviction on your record. 

This is guaranteed.  And you will have done it without the benefit of seeing the police report, or testing the BAC results, or seeking the advice of a San Francisco DUI attorney.  And once it's done, there's little chance of going back and changing your mind.  It's over.

Fighting your case will allow a qualified San Francisco DUI attorney to review the evidence, talk with the District Attorney, and do everything possible to affect the outcome of your case to your advantage.  Perhaps the officer had no reason to stop you at 2 a.m. in the morning on Geary Boulevard in the Richmond District.  Perhaps the BAC device is defective, and that 0.08 is really a 0.05.  Maybe the witnesses in the case are unavailable for trial.

In the end you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Don't go into a DUI charge alone.  A DUI conviction will plague you long after that first scary court appearance.

Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You've been charged with a DUI after a night out in the Mission in San Francisco.  You have a court hearing coming up.  The San Francisco police officer gives you a citation, along with your temporary driver's license.  What else could go wrong?

At the arraignment hearing, you receive your trial information, telling you what you are charged with.  You notice a few extra things.  These are called enhancements or aggravating factors.  They are either charged by the District Attorney or added later by the judge.  They are meant to increase the punishment of the DUI.

Some examples:  Driving under the influence with children in the car.  Soeeding or driving reckless.  Having a blood alcohol level above a certain level.  Refusing a test for measuring blood alcohol content.  Being in an accident, or worse, causing injury to another person, even one who is a passenger in your car.

If you haven't consulted with a qualified San Francisco DUI attorney yet, now's the time.  Any one of these enhancements could result in additional fines, additional jail time, or increased time in revocation of your license.  Don't try to handle this on your own.  A qualified DUI attorney can try to eliminate the enhancements, challenge the arrest itself, or do other legal maneuvers to your benefit.

Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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It's 2 a.m. in the morning, and you have been out and about in San Francisco, and it's time to drive home to the Marina District.  You know you have had too much to drink, but you get in your car anyway.  You drive one block and are in a residential area.  You stop your car, turn the engine off, and fall asleep.

Later an officer taps on your window, and begins the DUI stop procedures.  You are arrested for DUI.  But you weren't driving.  Can you get out of a DUI conviction?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

You may not know this, but you can be convicted of a DUI even if you aren't operating, moving or driving a motor vehicle.  The issue is whether you have control of the vehicle.  This comes into play if you have the car keys, either in the ignition or within reach.  In addition, you are in control if you are in the driver's seat.  More obvious signs are a running engine, or stopped in traffic, asleep, or having been observed by a police officer driving.

Other circumstances are less obvious.  Sitting on your car hood or fender.  Sleeping in the back seat.  Again the issue is control.  You do not need to be seen driving by an officer.

What it all comes down to is the issue of driving and control - a fact issue.  A good San Francisco DUI attorney can help to sort through the facts and the law, and fight to throw out the charge.  It's never cut and dried.

Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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Once you've been stopped by a San Francisco police officer for a possible DUI, the officer has already made a decision that he or she has probable cause to stop you.  As you roll down your window to talk to the officer, and the officer smells alcohol on your breath, the likelihood that you can leave at that point is slim.  And then you begin to speak.

The most damaging evidence in a DUI case are the statements you make to the officer.  Admissions of drinking, the amount you've consumed, and other responses to questions the officer is asking you.  A San Francisco DUI attorney is going to try to determine if these damning statements can be suppressed under Miranda.

In a situation where you have been "arrested" the officer must give you your Miranda advisals:  telling you that you have the right to remain silent, seek advice of an attorney, that anything you say can be used against you.  The question becomes "when" you've been arrested.  In a DUI case, the officer most likely has determined you are under the influence based on errative driving, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, and other usual factors.  Additional questions are asked in an effort to further allow you to incriminate yourself, and have the statements used against you in court.  Without the advisals.

A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney will determine which statements are "spontaneous" and thus allowed into a trial, and those which are solicited after you are technically under arrest.  Those statements can be suppressed because they were made without the Miranda advisal.

Beyond the obvious advice, which is to say nothing other than your name during an arrest, sometimes that advice goes out the window when you are in a panic, or are attempting to get out of a DUI at the road stop.  It doesn't work.  If you remain silent, there are no statements to suppress.  If you talked too much, hire a DUI attorney to get those statements thrown out.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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What can you do when you are pulled over for a DUI by the San Francisco Police Department?  Here are some basic things you can do, and have the right to do:

1. If you see the police lights, try to pull over carefully, but not too carefully.  Show you are in command of your vehicle.  Turn on your turn signal.  Slow down and brake gradually. 

2. How do you look?  Is your shirt tucked in, do you look ruffled or disheavaled?  Is your makeup smeared?  Make adjustments accordingly before you roll down the window.

3. Remember that the police officer is noting EVERYTHING you do and say.  The first impression is most important.  In other words, be nice to the officer, be cooperative, and not defensive.

4. Before you go out for the evening, put your car registration and insurance in an easily accessible place in your car.  Make sure you can easily find your driver's license.  It saves you searching your vehicle while you're nervous.

5. You should remember that you do not have to submit to a preliminary breath test.  This test is used by the officer to determine whether to arrest you.  You also do not have to submit to the field sobriety tests.  Will this get you out of an arrest?  Probably not, but these tests are unreliable, and will be used against you.  

6. Other than your name and address, you do not have to talk to the officer about your activities.  Invoke your right to an attorney during any questioning.

A qualified California DUI attorney can help advise you regarding your rights during a stop, and if you have been stopped and subsequently arrested, the DUI attorney can evaluate the circumstances of the stop to determine if anything was done improperly.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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If you have been arrested for a DUI in San Francisco or the Bay Area, there is the tendency to simply admit you're guilty, and avoid the costs of hiring a qualified DUI attorney.  In some criminal cases, such as traffic tickets, that may be the case.  In a DUI, it is not, especially in California. 

The DUI arrest itself has already created chaos in your life for you and your loved ones.  Having an experienced attorney on your side will minimize the stress related to a DUI. 

This is especially true when you are looking at your second or third or more DUI charge.  The punishments go up incrementally each time.  Also, if there are extentuating circumstances in your case that could increase the punishment, such as driving under the age of 21, having minor children in the vehicle, or having a high BAC.  You need to hire a qualified DUI lawyer.

If you are in an accident, and someone, even you, have been injured, there are a multiitude of reasons why you need an attorney, not only for the DUI, but also the tangent consequences of the injuries, including a possible civil lawsuit.

The results of a DUI conviction can be costly to you and your loved ones.  You could lose your job if you lose your license.  You could spend time in jail.  You could pay large fines and penalties.  An experienced lower can reduce or minimize these consequences, or get rid of the DUI charge all together.

In other words, i you don’t know what you need to do, or what steps you need to take, hire a DUI attorney.  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can walk you through the steps of the entire DUI process at the criminal level and the Department of Motor Vehicles.  The attorney can review the facts of your case and challenge the charge in a trial, or plea bargain a better dea.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You are driving in the Sunset District in San Francisco, California.  You are pulled over, and the officer suspects you are under the influence of alcohol.  You are arrested and taken to the San Francisco Police station for a breathalyzer test.  The breathalyzer estimates the concentration of alcohol in the blood. 

Can you control the breath test?  In other words, can you fool a breathalyzer into showing a lower BAC reading?    The answer is No.

There are a lot of people who believe certain myths regarding a breathalyzer and BAC. For example, sucking on pennies does not lower a BAC reading.  Breath mints?  No.  They only mask the odor of alcohol, they do not change the alcohol content being measured.  Indeed, you don’t have to drink alcohol to get arrested for a DUI, because the human body produces its own supply of alcohol naturally on a continuous basis.  Therefore, we always have alcohol in our bodies and in some cases, some people produce enough to become legally intoxicated.

Are breathalyzers are always accurate?  No, and many errors are made in tests because they lack precision. The police or sheriff department official administering the test can also affect the results of a test.  

So what can you do?  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can examine the test procedures, as well as the accuracy of the results.  The attorney can determine if there were errors, or if there are other factors effecting the final read out.  Don't assume the BAC taken at the police station is accurate.  You may not be able to control the results of the breathalyzer, but your attorney can control how those results are used.  In some cases, the results can be voided.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You've just been released from the San Francisco police department after your DUI arrest.  Avoiding common mistakes that persons with pending DUIs in California make is critical.

Hire a qualified San Francisco DUI lawyer.  Hiring a good DUI attorney to help you through the process gives you  a much better chance of having the charges eliminated or reduced. You may think that representing yourself will be easy and much cheaper, but you are fighting against the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and an officer who is trained to obtain a conviction.  The end result?  You lose.

Handling your own case is not wise.  There could be mistakes that the officer made, errors in the BAC result procedures or the machine itself.  These mistakes will never be discovered, and you will pay a lot of fines and other financial consequences as a result.  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can reduce the consequences significantly.  Nothing is "cut and dried." 

Another mistake is waiting until your court date or afterward to hire a DUI attorney.  If you speak to an attorney immediately after your arrest will allow you to relate facts to your attorney that are fresh in your mind, and help your lawyer to assist you in your case.  Another mistake is waiting too long, and missing the ten day time limit to challenge your license suspension with the DMV.

Don't take advice from friends or associates who had previous DUI convictions.  Each case is different.  A qualified DUI attorney knows the laws, and the potential defenses you have.  Your friends don't.

Missing court appearances is another mistake people make after a DUI arrest. A judge can order an arrest warrant for you if you fail to appear, unless you have an attorney appear on your behalf. 

You also can enhance your DUI woes by continuing to drive while your license is suspended or revoked.  It is a separate criminal charge with its own penalties, including jail time.  In addition, your license suspension will be increased.  I know of one person with eight separate convictions for driving while suspended who is now spending several months in jail. 

Avoid the mistakes.  Hire a qualified San Francisco DUI attorney.

Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You have been released from jail after being arrested for a DUI.  You now want to hire a qualified San Francisco DUI attorney.  Your main objective is to find an attorney to protect your rights, evaluate your case, and either get rid of the DUI charge or make sure any punishment that might result from a conviction is as light as possible.

To be sure you have the right DUI attorney in your corner be sure to ask the attorney a few questions:

·               Does your DUI attorney handle a lot of DUI cases?  The reason for this is that a lawyer who rarely handles DUIs will not be aware of and informed about DUI laws.   You want your attorney to be up on the laws so he or she can protect you.  Is the attorney familiar with individuals in the District Attorney’s Office or the San Francisco Police Department?

·               Ask the potential DUI attorney if he or she personally will be handling your case or will another attorney in the firm with less experience handle your case.

·               Ask the lawyer when and if he or she has DUI cases that resulted in favorable outcomes.  This will help you to find out if your attorney could represent you effectively in a DUI trial, should that be necessary, or get you a good plea offer, in the alternative.

·                Ask the DUI attorney specifics about what services he employs for expert toxicologists,  DMV license specialists and other expert witnesses.

·               Will your attorney visit the site where you were arrested?  Will your attorney look at and examine the facts in your case?

·               What does the attorney charge, and will there be other fees down the road, such as expert fees. The lower the fees, the higher the chances your attorney is not a highly qualified attorney.

·               Find out if the attorney will be available to speak with you after you have paid a retainer fee.  Can you contact the attorney by telephone, e-mail, or in person?

The sooner you call a DUI attorney, the quicker the attorney can start working on your behalf. Contacting an attorney immediately can potentially protect your driving privileges.  Don’t delay.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You have just been arrested by the San Francisco police department for DUI.  After you have been arrested, you will be asked to submit to a test to determine the alcohol content of your blood.  You can choose to take a breath test using a breathalyzer, or a blood test, or both.

In California, if you refuse to take the test, there are severe consequences to your privilege to drive a motor vehicle.  If you were 21 years of older at the time of arrest and you refused or failed to complete a blood or breath test, a first offense will result in a 1-year suspension. A second offense within 10 years will result in a 2-year revocation. A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

If you were under 21 years of age at the time of being detained or arrested and you refused or failed to complete a blood or breath test:, a first offense will result in a 1-year suspension. A second offense within 10 years will result in a 2-year revocation. A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

If having a drivers’ license is not of major importance to you, then not having a test result makes it more difficult for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to prosecute your case, and prove that you were under the influence of alcohol while driving.  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can explain both the pros and cons of taking a breath or blood test.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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When you are arrested for a DUI in California , you will lose your license.  However, that is not the only thing you should be concerned about.  

If you have a driver's license in California, any serious violations of the driving laws will accumulate “points” to your driving record.  Enough points could result in losing your privilege to drive.  


Most driving offenses, such as hit and run, reckless driving, and driving under the influence, are designated as 2 points and will remain on your record for seven years from the violation date. Most other offenses are designated as 1 point and will remain on your record for three years from the violation date. For example, an at fault accident will get you one point on your record.

You are considered a negligent operator by the California DMV if you have the following point count totals:

4 points in 12 months, or

6 points in 24 months, or

8 points in 36 months

A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can explain the point system to you, and determine how best to proceed with your DUI keeping in mind your license record.

Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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In California, every person convicted of a first offense DUI is required to complete an approved drinking driver program. For second and subsequent convictions, completion of an 18 or 30-month program is required.  The court will order completion of the program as a condition of probation or parole.

The program must be one that is approved by the court, and the court will accomodate you in terms of where you take the program.  However, the program is not free, and you should be prepared to pay an initiation fee as well as additional fees as the program progresses. 

Finally, the DMV will allow a temporary license to include, along with driving to and from work, driving to and from the program.  You however must be enrolled in the program to obtain this exception.

A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can give you information regarding the programs, and the options available to you to complete the program successfully.


Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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When you are arrested for a DUI in San Francisco, the officer will take your driver's license away from you and give you a temporary license.  When you are offered a blood or breath test, you submit to the test, and your BAC is 0.08 or more, your license will be suspended for four months.  If you have a previous DUI in the last ten years, your license will be suspended for one year. 

If you are under 21 years of age, and a preliminary alcohol screening test or other test shows a BAC of 0.01 or more, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year.

Refusing to take a chemical test of any kind when asked will result in a suspension of your driving privileges for one year.

A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can explain the various driving suspension times, as well as avenues to prevent the suspension through a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  You must request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest.



Category: Keyword Search: California DUI,