Drunk Driving Arrests on the Rise in San Diego

Arrests for drunk driving in San Diego tend to increase around the holidays. The much celebrated Labor Day weekend is no different. Between 6 PM Friday and 6 AM Saturday, police in San Diego made more than 60 DUI-related arrests. That’s nearly a 30 percent increase in San Diego Labor Day DUI arrests from the year before.

There are two reasons the number of DUI arrests spike on and around holidays. First, there are simply more drunk and drugged drivers on the road. Holidays give people a reason to celebrate, and drugs and alcohol are often used heavily. Second, law enforcement agencies tend to use more resources to combat drunk driving around the holidays. Not only are there more DUI checkpoints, but also an increased number of officers patrolling the roads. More drunk drivers and more police is the perfect recipe for an increase in arrests.

Two Types of DUI in San Diego

It’s against the law to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are two ways you can be arrested and charged with DUI in California: per se and probable cause.

Per Se DUI

In California, you will be considered to be “under the influence” of alcohol if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .08 percent when you were driving. If chemical tests show that your BAC exceeds the legal limit, you will be charged for DUI under Vehicle Code Section 23152(b). This is known as Per Se Intoxication DUI.

Probable Cause DUI

Contrary to popular belief, you can be arrested for DUI even if you don’t fail a breath test. Under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), police have the authority to arrest you for DUI if they have reason to believe that you are unable to drive safely because you have consumed drugs or alcohol. However, police must have probable cause to believe that you’ve violated the law. Indicators that may establish probable cause for your arrest include:

  • Failed field sobriety tests
  • Chemical testing showing some level of alcohol in your system
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • The odor of alcohol or drugs in the car, or
  • Drugs and/or paraphernalia visible in the car.

The state will present any evidence that shows you were intoxicated in violation of the law to support its case.

Penalties for DUI in San Diego

While there are two ways you can be arrested for DUI in San Diego, the penalties for each crime is the same. In California, DUI can be a misdemeanor or a felony offense. The seriousness of your charge, as well as the potential penalties, will depend on a variety of factors. These include:

  • Prior DUI convictions
  • BAC
  • Injury or death of a victim, and
  • Willingness to cooperate with police during chemical testing.

First DUI: First-time DUI offenses, absent any aggravating circumstances, are punishable by a maximum of:

  • Fines: $1,000


  • Jail: 6 months
  • Probation: 3 years


  • License Suspension: 6 months.

Second DUI:  Second DUI convictions, absent any aggravating circumstances, are punishable by:

  • Fines: $390 to $1,000


  • Jail: 96 hours to 6 months
  • Probation: 3 to 5 years


  • License Suspension: 2 years criminal, 1 year administrative (concurrently)

First DUI: Subsequent DUI offenses, absent any aggravating circumstances, are punishable by:

  • Fines: $390 to $1,000


  • Jail: 120 days to 12 months
  • Probation: 5 years


  • License Suspension: 3 years criminal, 1 year administrative (concurrently).

In addition to these criminal penalties, you can also face administrative sanctions and be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. Most individuals convicted of DUI end up spending thousands as a result of their arrest.

Fighting DUI Charges in San Diego

Don’t give up hope when you are arrested for DUI. You have the right to defend yourself throughout the criminal proceedings. Hiring an attorney to handle your defense will help you secure the best possible result. Your attorney will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime and determine the best way to defend you. Defenses should be constructed to (a) undermine the state’s case against you and (b) explain or justify your behavior.

DUI defenses can include:

  • Illegal traffic stop
  • Illegal arrest
  • Chemical test results are invalid and unreliable
  • Police did not administer field sobriety tests properly, or
  • You have been falsely accused.

If you have been arrested for DUI in San Diego you need to speak with an attorney. Call the San Diego Criminal Law Center to schedule a free case evaluation. Our attorneys are here to help you protect your future.

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