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What to Do if You’re Arrested for DUI in San Francisco


What to Do if You’re Arrested for DUI in San Francisco

Getting arrested for DUI can be scary and overwhelming. But don’t panic! Here’s a guide to help you understand what to do if you’re arrested for DUI in San Francisco.

The Arrest

If a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence, they can pull you over and ask you to take a breathalyzer test. If you fail the test or refuse to take it, you’ll likely be arrested on the spot.

When you’re arrested, the officer will handcuff you and take you to the nearest police station. They’ll confiscate your license and process you by taking your fingerprints and mugshot. You’ll also be asked to take a chemical BAC test – either a blood, breath, or urine test.

Getting Out of Jail

After processing, you’ll be booked into county jail. But you likely won’t have to stay there long. You can be released in a few hours once you pay bail or bond or are released on your own recognizance (without paying bail).

Bail is money paid to the court to secure your release from jail until your trial. For a first DUI offense, bail is usually $5000. Many people use a bail bondsman, who will post your bail for a 10% fee, so you’d pay $500.

If it’s your first DUI arrest with no criminal record, the judge may release you on your own recognizance. This means you’re released without paying bail, but you must promise to return for your court dates.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
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Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
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Loveth Okpedo
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Bee L
Bee L
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divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Getting Your Car Back

After a DUI arrest, your car will be impounded for 30 days. You can get it back sooner if you request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. At the hearing, the DMV will decide if the police had probable cause to arrest you. If not, you can get your license reinstated and car released.

To get your car back after 30 days, you’ll need to pay all towing and storage fees. This usually costs around $1000-$2000 for a 30-day impound.

Getting Your License Back

After a DUI arrest, your license will be automatically suspended for 4-10 months. The exact length depends on factors like your BAC level and if you refused chemical testing. To get your license reinstated, you must:

  • Request a DMV hearing within 10 days and win your case (optional)
  • Pay license reissue fee of $125
  • File proof of insurance SR-22 for 3 years
  • Complete DUI school and treatment programs if required

You can get a restricted license to drive to work, school, or DUI programs once you enroll in a DUI class. And you may be able to get an ignition interlock device installed so you can drive to these places.

Getting Legal Help

A DUI conviction can result in hefty fines, jail time, license suspension, and other penalties. So it’s critical to get legal help from an experienced DUI attorney. A lawyer can review your case for illegal stops, faulty breathalyzers, and other ways to get charges reduced or dismissed.

Hiring a private attorney costs around $2000-$5000 for a DUI case in San Francisco. Or, if you can’t afford a lawyer, request a public defender at your first court appearance.

Fighting DUI Charges

There are many ways a skilled DUI lawyer can get charges against you dropped or reduced. Here are some of the most common DUI defenses:

  • Illegal traffic stop – If there was no probable cause for the officer to pull you over, evidence can be suppressed.
  • Faulty breathalyzer – These machines can have errors. Your lawyer can challenge the results.
  • Rising BAC – Your BAC may have been lower when driving than when tested.
  • Medical conditions – Some conditions like diabetes can mimic signs of intoxication.
  • Medication interactions – Some meds like antidepressants can cause false positives.

An attorney may also be able to negotiate a plea deal, such as pleading to a wet reckless charge instead of DUI. This carries less severe penalties like no license suspension.

DUI Costs and Penalties

If convicted of DUI in San Francisco, here are some of the average fines and penalties you may face:

  • Fines and fees – $2000-$5000+
  • Jail time – 2 days to 6 months
  • License suspension – 4-10 months
  • DUI classes – 3-9 months
  • Ignition interlock device – 6 months
  • SR-22 insurance – 3 years

Penalties get more severe for repeat DUIs. And if you caused an accident or injury, you may face additional civil lawsuits and damages.

Moving Forward After a DUI

Having a DUI arrest on your record can negatively impact your life for years. It can make it harder to find a job, rent an apartment, get car insurance, and more. But there are ways to move forward:

  • Complete all DUI program requirements like classes, treatment, community service, etc.
  • Consider counseling or support groups to change unhealthy drinking habits.
  • After your license suspension ends, consider installing an ignition interlock device voluntarily to show you’re committed to safe driving.
  • Reinstate your license and carry proper auto insurance.
  • If you’re convicted, petition the court to reduce the charges to a lesser offense after a period of time.

Don’t let one mistake define your future. Learn from the experience and take steps to prove you’ve changed for the better.


California Vehicle Code 23152

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a DUI Lawyer?

California DMV DUI Information

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