California’s DUI laws can be complex and confusing. In this section, our attorneys break down the rules and explain the process.
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Suppose the police arrest a person for a California DUI and also have a “reasonable suspicion” that the suspect was engaged in criminal activity. In that case, the police can search the party’s car and its contents. In doing so, they may find illegal weapons. A prosecutor can then charge the person with both DUI and an illegal weapons charge.
Yes. When the police stop people for the California crime of DUI or other traffic violations, they typically scan the car, looking for any evidence of contraband. This may include drug paraphernalia, weapons, alcohol, etc.
If authorities ultimately let the individual go, that’s usually the extent of the “search.” But if the cops arrest the individual or detain the individual based on a “reasonable suspicion” that the suspect is or was engaged in criminal activity, they might conduct a full-blown search of the car and its contents.
If the cops find an illegal weapon under either scenario, they will likely arrest you for violating one of California’s many guns or weapons laws.
Penal Code 16590 PC, California’s law against possessing dangerous weapons, is one of the broadest of these laws. The statute generally prohibits weapons like:
So when this type of situation presents itself, you and your California criminal defense lawyer must ask two questions: 1) was the weapon you possessed illegal, and 2) was it discovered during a legal search and seizure? If either of these answers is no, it is very likely that your weapons charges, and possibly any additional charges, will be dismissed. (Read our article, California Gun Laws.)
A violation of this law is a wobbler. This means a prosecutor can charge the offense as either a:
At most, the crime is punishable by custody in county jail for up to three years.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.