Attorney Matthew G. Kaestner

Long Beach's Criminal Law Specialist

Under California State law a DUI (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs) charge carries a maximum sentence of up to six months in the county jail for a first offense. In California, the legal limit to drive is no more than .08 percent of alcohol in the blood as determined by a blood or breath test. Driving under the influence of drugs is more subjective and depends on an arresting officer's opinion that the driver was "under the influence of a drug" at the time of driving.

A second conviction in ten years can result in a one year maximum jail sentence. A third offense in ten years can result in a minimum 120 day jail sentence up to one year in jail. A fourth and subsequent conviction within ten years can be charged as a felony and result in a state prison sentence of up to three years.

The forced installation of ignition interlock devices can also be the result of a driving under the influence conviction. This device prevents a driver from starting a vehicle if he has a certain amount of alcohol in his system.  The Court and DMV often require the device.  For example, after a second conviction in 10 years for a DUI, a restricted license is available after a one year suspension only if an interlock device is installed.  Also, the DMV requires the installation of an interlock device if a person has been convicted of driving while suspended for DUI.  More information on interlock devices is available from the DMV......(Read More)

Although many people refer to DUI [23152(a) and 23152(b) of the vehicle code]as "drunk driving," most people who are arrested would not normally be considered "drunk." Although it varies based upon a person's weight, some people can reach a .08 blood alcohol level after only two drinks.

An arrest for DUI not only is likely to result in a criminal prosecution in a criminal court, but also will result in the DMV taking administrative action to suspend the privilege to drive by the California.  After an arrest, the person arrested, or his attonrey, HAS ONLY 10 DAYS FROM THE ARREST TO REQUEST A DMV HEARING or the right to contest the suspension the suspension is waived..... (Read More)

This administrative action by the DMV is completely independent of what happens in the criminal law court. The arrested party has a right to have legal counsel present at the DMV hearing. Experienced legal counsel will know how to raise any legal challenges to the DMV action. These include challenges to the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of the blood alcohol test, whether the test was administered within three hours of driving and whether in fact driving can be proved, among others. A successful challenge to the DMV administrative suspension results in the full and complete restoration of driving privileges.

A first offense the DMV suspension shall last for for 4 months. A first refusal to give a breath or blood test is even worse and will result in a suspension for one year. However, on a first arrest where a test was provided the arrested party not wishing to contest the suspension can convert the last three months of the suspension into a five month restriction by enrolling in a first offender program, paying a license re-issue fee, and showing proof of insurance to the DMV. The first thirty days of suspension cannot be avoided absent a successful administrative challenge.

Other questions regarding the criminal and DMV consequences of a drunk driving arrest can be answered by calling Long Beach criminal defense attorney, Matthew G. Kaestner directly at (562) 437-0200.

In addition to jail time and the above DMV consequences, most DUI convictions will lead to prosecution in a criminal law court. Upon a first conviction within ten years, California law requires the following minimum sentence. That minimum sentence is 3 years of summary probation, fines and fees totaling approximately $1500, and attendance at a 90 day first offender DUI program. Increased penalties for second and third offenses within a 10 year period include longer programs and license suspensions, revocations and possible vehicle seizure. A fourth conviction in ten years is a felony that can result in state prison.

A criminal law attorney with substantial experience handling DUI cases can help you determine if there is a defense to a DUI case. An experienced criminal law lawyer can defend both in the criminal court and before the DMV.

Criminal law specialist Matthew G. Kaestner has successfully defended many persons charged with DUI and has handled DUI cases for over 30 years. Mr Kaestner once obtained the reversal of a administrative suspension in a case where the police contacted a sleeping motorist on the side of the road and arrested him for DUI even though the officer saw no driving.

In another case, Mr. Kaestner was successful in raising the accuracy of the breathalizer result even though there was a breath reading of .08. Most persons and many attorneys don't realize that even a functioning breath machine has an error rate of plus or minus ten percent.

Few persons understand what constitutes an illegal traffic stop. However, a DMV action, and criminal case can be dismissed if the stop violated certain search and seizure principles.

However, most district attorneys and city prosecutors will file a criminal law case even if the stop of the motorist violated search and seizure principles.

A criminal law specialist can identify and challenge an illegal arrest, and find those flaws in the prosecution’s case that can get a case dismissed. Also, a criminal law attorney can avoid the client making any court appearances. Oftentimes, a client's case can be handled discreetly and with no need for a court appearance. Thus, a criminal law attorney can help you avoid embarrassment and missed work.

For further information concerning your rights when arrested for DUI, please contact Long Beach Criminal Law Specialist Matthew G. Kaestner directly at (562) 437-0200.

Helpful DMV Links

  1. The DMV on DUI Arrests:
  2. The DMV on the Administrative Hearing:
  3. The DMV on Ignition Interlock Devices: