In California, we normally use the term Driving Under the Influence (DUI), or in other states, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). DUI/DWI laws are complex and confusing, so we will give you a basic summary. Every case is unique and you should call us immediately to get information regarding your particular case.

You can be arrested and charged with DUI even if you are not drinking alcohol. Taking drugs or medication, whether prescribed by the doctor or not, can also lead to an arrest.

For drug cases, the key issue is whether you are able to drive safely.

For alcohol cases, there are two possible crimes.

  1. VC 23152 (a) deals with the situation where you are too impaired by alcohol to drive safely, and it does not matter what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is; and

  2. VC 23152 (b) deals with the situation where your BAC is .08% or higher, and it does not matter whether you are impaired.


The consequences can be life changing. There can be jail time, a loss of driving privileges, increased insurance rates, and huge fines.

Jail time: Most DUI’s are misdemeanors. Depending on your record, you are risking up to 6 months or 12 months in jail. If someone is injured or you have certain prior convictions, you could be facing a felony and prison time.

Driver License Suspension: In the typical alcohol related DUI case there are two suspensions:

The first suspension by the DMV is called the “APS Suspension.” The APS Suspension is done on the DMV’s own authority and does not require a criminal conviction. It is based on the DMV deciding that your blood alcohol concentration level was 0.08% or higher.

If you are convicted of the criminal DUI charge, there is a second suspension which is called the “Mandatory Suspension.” The Mandatory Suspension is triggered by a criminal conviction for a DUI, whether for drugs or alcohol. The Mandatory Suspension for a first offense can be for 6 months, 10 months, or one year, depending on blood alcohol levels and whether there were injuries. If you have prior convictions, the Mandatory Suspension will be even longer.

Restricted License:

The law is constantly changing. Basically, starting January 1, 2019, there are potential options for obtaining a restricted license if you do certain things such as enroll in a DUI education program and install an Ignition Interlock Device.


DUI cases can be defended on a number of grounds, but each case is unique and you need to speak to us for an evaluation.

The law and the science issues are complex, so Attorney Cantrell prepares a guide for defending a DUI at trial.

If you are shopping for an attorney, ask if that attorney has a written plan for defending a DUI at trial. If not, it would be foolish to retain that attorney.


For an alcohol related DUI, the DMV will automatically suspend your privilege to drive after 10 days, and weekends do count. You must take immediate action to stop the suspension.

There are several defenses and strategies that are typically relevant depending on the facts of your case. Not all will apply and we will be able to refine your exact defense as we accomplish more of the tasks in the investigation stage. However, I will describe below some of these strategies.

The DUI prosecutor will point to several factors as evidence that you were drunk driving: poor navigation of your vehicle, an odor of alcohol flowing from the breath, the appearance of being intoxicated, poor performance on the field sobriety test and, of course, the results of the blood or breath alcohol test. Yet each "piece of DUI evidence" is ambiguous, subject to multiple interpretations, unreliable, based on faulty assumptions and open to attack.

Contrary to popular belief, DUI cases do not rest on hard science. They rest on pseudo-science, often times junk science. Unfortunately, hundreds of innocent people get convicted of DUI every court day, often by pleading guilty even in the face of spurious prosecution evidence. Hopefully, you won't be one of them.

Defense Issues:

1. GERD Or Heartburn Caused A Falsely High Reading On The DUI Breath Alcohol Test

2. The DUI Police Officer Failed To Read You Your Miranda Rights

3. Weaving Within Your Lane Does Not Justify A DUI Traffic Stop

4. Alcohol On Your Breath Does NOT Mean The Driver Is Under the Influence

5. The Officer Lacked Probable Cause For The DUI Arrest

6. There Are Innocent Explanations For Your Faulty Driving

7. The Alleged Signs of DUI Are Actually Signs Of Fatigue

8. Your Blood Alcohol Level Was Rising

9. An Improper 15-Minute Observation Before The Breath Alcohol Test

10. The Police Officer Lacked Justification To Make The DUI Traffic Stop

11. Failure To Comply With California's Title 17 Regulations

12. Inherent Error Rate In DUI Blood and Breath Alcohol Testing

13. The DUI Officer Has No Baseline For Your Performance On The Field Sobriety Tests

14. Factors Other Than Alcohol Can Cause Poor Performance on the Field Sobriety Tests

15. The DUI Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Were Not Properly Administered

16. The Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Lack Reliability

17. Field Sobriety Tests Provide a Poor Measure Of DUI Impairment

18. Mouth Alcohol Can Contaminate The Breath Alcohol Test Results

19. Blood-Breath Partition Ratio Is Inaccurate Based on Individual Differences

20. The Breath Alcohol Test Yields Unduly High Results During Absorption

21. Police Have No "Special Ability" To Judge Intoxication Levels

22. No Sign Of Mental Impairment

23. Innocent Explanations For The Symptoms Of Intoxication

24. Speeding Is Not Correlated With DUI

25. Radio Frequency Interference May Have Contaminated Your BAC Tests

26. Breath Testing Machines Mistake Other Chemicals for Alcohol

27. Low-Carb Diets Can Cause Falsely High DUI Breath Test Readings

28. Breathing Techniques May Alter Breath Test Results

29. Breath Temperature May Alter Breath Test Results

30. A "Disconnect" May Exist Between Your BAC And Symptoms Of Intoxication

31. Blood Tests Have Problems Too