After a night out drinking with friends, you drive home. You’re drunk, but you think, “I can make it home.” It turns out you were right; you make it back to your house without incident. But what if police officers saw you driving home drunk? Can you still be arrested for DUI if you’re already at home?
California DUI Laws
Neither the California Vehicle Code nor the California Penal Code require that law enforcement officers arrest you for DUI when stopped on the road or while driving. This means that you could be arrested for DUI even if you’ve already reached home safely.
You could be arrested if law enforcement finds that you were driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If you are under 21, you could be charged with DUI if your BAC was 0.01% or over while driving.1
If you have already reached home safely, law enforcement officials can still administer a test of your blood-alcohol content level. Typically, this occurs when police have witnessed you driving in a manner that appeared unsafe or impaired. If these observations are not present in your case, prosecutors will have a harder time charging you with DUI.
What Kind of Evidence Can Get Me Convicted?
Even if law enforcement officials did not directly observe your impaired driving, a prosecutor can use accounts from eyewitnesses, video footage, and tangible objects to prove that you were driving under the influence. This evidence could include:
- First-hand accounts of witnesses or other law enforcement officials who observed your driving
- Video or audio recordings or photos of you taken while driving;
- Photographs of you arriving home shortly after a time when you were driving;
- A blood or breath sample taken from you shortly after a time when you were driving;
- Photos of damage that you caused while driving; or
- Drug paraphernalia, drugs, or containers of alcohol found in your vehicle shortly after you were driving.
If prosecutors have many pieces of evidence at his or her disposal, a DUI case is still typically much harder to prove if you reached home safely. If an officer did not observe you driving under the influence, he or she will not be able to testify with certainty that you were the person driving when you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In a case in which you reached home safely, there could be concerns about the admissibility and accuracy of evidence, and thus many valid defenses an attorney can use to defend you from these charges. For example, an eyewitness giving a first-hand account may identify the wrong person as the defendant in a lineup. A car allegedly struck by a drunk driver could actually have been damaged in a separate incident. A blood sample could have been taken after the driver had been drinking alcohol at home.
It is important to note that, if you are approached by a police officer at your home, you are not required to submit to a breath test. The officer must then request a search warrant upon your refusal.
Charged with a DUI? Call Wallin & Klarich Now
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, call the criminal defense team at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our skilled DUI attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing DUI charges. We can help you obtain the best possible result in your case.
We have offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville so that we can help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. CVC § 23136(a)↩