San Diego DWI/DUI Attorneys
Welcome to our San Diego DUI and Drunk Driving Information page, your source of legal information about driving under the influence laws, DUI penalties, DMV driver’s license suspensions, DUI/DWI lawyers, criminal courts, blood-alcohol evidence, car insurance after a DUI, and police investigative procedures in San Diego County, California.
Police Agencies, Procedures, and your Legal Rights:
Persons prosecuted in San Diego were likely arrested by one of the following agencies:
- San Diego Police Department
- San Diego County Sheriff
- San Diego Harbor Police Department
- Carlsbad Police Department
- Chula Vista Police Department
- Coronado Police Department
- Escondido Police Department
- La Mesa Police Department
- San Diego County District Attorney
- San Diego County Marshal’s Office
- San Diego State University Police Department
- University of California Police San Diego
- University of San Diego Department of Public Safety
The law requires that an officer have probable cause before you are arrested. Typically, the training for officers as well as case law, requires police to establish probable cause by a violation of the law, an accident, and observations of the physical manifestation of intoxication. This is subjective, and many agencies require that Standardized Field Sobriety Tests be given, correctly, and perhaps a field breathalyzer, or PAS machine, to establish alcohol in your blood. Your Miranda warnings, or the “reading of your rights”, also require that you be advised or warned before they take testimony from you after arrest.
You have the right to refuse the FST’s, and you have the right not to state anything that may incriminate you. You even have the right to refuse a blood, breath, or urine test, but if you do so, your license will be suspended for one year. You always have the right to be treated fairly by the police, and for the police to not use unreasonable force against you during arrest.
How can I estimate my Blood-Alcohol Level?
Use our Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) Calculator.
DUI Charges (The Law)
The California Vehicle Code, specifically, VC section 23152(a) and 23152(b), sets the law on DUI cases, and states as follows:
(a) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
The two sections above are typically charged together. The first has to do with your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, irregardless of your blood alcohol level. The second, or (b) count, requires that you have a .08% blood alcohol content, or BAC, by weight, California’s “legal limit”. The term “alcoholic beverage and drug” or “alcoholic beverage or drug” in the (a), or first count, does not mean that you were driving with drugs in your system, but that either alcohol or drugs, or both, were found at the time of driving, not that you in fact did have both in your system.
Your Driver’s License and the DMV:
THE DMV REQUIRES THAT YOU ACT WITHIN ONLY TEN DAYS (not business days)from the date of your arrest to protect your driving privileges. It is best, if you are going to retain an attorney, to allow the attorney’s office to schedule the DMV hearing for you. Our fee includes this service, and we can schedule a hearing that works with our availability (court and DMV) schedule. For your convenience, if you cannot retain an attorney within 10 days, the phone numbers for all San Diego DMV matters, to do so, is reproduced here:
The San Diego Office of Driver Safety:
phone: (858) 627-3901 fax: (858) 627-3925
9174 Sky Park Court,
Suite 200, 92123-2666
When you call, advise them that you are retaining an attorney, that you request a stay on your driver’s license suspension, and that you will be sending a written request for discovery. They will ask if you request an “in person” or “telephonic” hearing, and we recommend that you set it for an in person, for reasons I am happy to discuss during our consultation. By making this request you ensure that that your driving privilege will not be suspended until your case is heard. At the DMV hearing, a hearing officer will conduct the hearing. His or her function is to prosecute the case and make a final decision based on the evidence presented. Your need to drive or your need for a driver’s license for work are not considered relevant and cannot be considered at the hearing. Likewise, you cannot apply for a “hardship” license based upon medical, employment, or education right to drive, unless you are under age 21.
At your hearing, only the following issues will be discussed, by law:
(If you took a blood, breath or urine test)
- Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code 23140, 23152 or 23153?
- Were you placed under lawful arrest?
- Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had a 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in your blood or 0.05% or more if under age 21?
San Diego County Drunk Driving or DUI violations within the city of San Diego, as well as infraction or municipal code violations within San Diego, are handled by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office:
San Diego City Attorney
All other San Diego DUI or criminal cases are handled by the San Diego County District Attorney:
San Diego County District Attorney
San Diego DUI Defense Attorneys:
Court Locations and Phone Numbers:
The San Diego County Court System has five Locations where San Diego County DUI cases may be prosecuted, depending upon which court had jurisdiction over the location where the arrest took place:
San Diego Courthouse
220 West Broadway
San Diego, California 92101
phone: (619) 685-6220
Criminal Records (General)
Phone: (619) 531-3040
North County Regional Center
325 South Melrose
Vista, California 92081
Phone: (760) 726-9595
East County Regional Center
(El Cajon Courthouse)
250 East Main Street
El Cajon, California 92020
Phone: (619) 441-4342
South County Regional Center
(Chula Vista Courthouse)
500 3rd Avenue
Chula Vista, California 91910
Phone: (619) 691-4736
San Diego Juvenile Courts
2851 Meadowlark Drive
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 694-4601
What may happen to my insurance?
There are two ways insurance companies generally deal with customers convicted of a DUI in Orange County. First, your insurer will likely raise your insurance premiums and label you a high-risk driver if it finds out you’ve been convicted of DUI. In this case, you’ll likely have to file proof of insurance for three years minimum with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Your insurance company will have to provide the DMV with an SR-22 form, which removes your license suspension and replaces it with a restriction by providing the California DMV with proof of insurance. An SR-22 also means your insurance company is required to notify the DMV if it cancels your insurance for any reason. Most state laws require persons that DUI convicts to get an SR-22 from their insurers, so you can’t hide. In addition, your company may cancel your insurance mid-term or terminate the policy at the end of the term because of your DUI conviction, especially if you are currently in a preferred class. Your company will send you a notice stating why you’ve been canceled, and then you’ll have to find another insurer while having a cancellation on your claims history.
Some insurance companies don’t offer SR-22 policies, so you may also be non-renewed or canceled because your company can no longer provide what you need.
San Diego County DUI Legal Research Links:
- San Diego County Outstanding Warrants
- San Diego County Law Library
- San Diego County Ordinances (San Diego Municipal Code)
- San Diego County Rules of Court
San Diego County DUI Local Service Phone Numbers:
- Alcoholics Anonymous Central Office (619) 825-4700.
- Gamblers Anonymous (GA) Hotline (619) 239-2911.
- Medical Aid for Indigents (619) 236-7501.
- Narcotics Anonymous Central Office, (619) 584-1007.
- Nicotine Anonymous Hotline (760) 781-5070.
- Overeaters Anonymous Central Office (619) 5633-4606 or (619) 563-4607.
- Salvation Army Rehab Center, (619) 239-4037.
- Supplemental Food Program (SHARE) (800) 773-7427.
- Veterans Affairs Alcohol & Drug Treatment, (619) 552-7560
San Diego City Help: non-profit support group for persons with herpes. Support group meets first Thursday of month and medical information third Thursday at UCSD Medical Center, Hillcrest. Info (619) 491-1194
- American Bar Association
- Association of Federal Defense Attorneys
- Bar Associations
- California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ)
- California District Attorneys Association
- California Public Defenders Association
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- National Association of Drug Court Professionals
- National Criminal Defense College
- National Lawyers Guild
- National Legal Aid & Defender Association
- San Diego Bar Association
- The State Bar of California