DUI arrests don't always lead to convictions in court. Police officer mistakes, faulty breathalyzers and crime lab errors may get your charges reduced or dismissed. Visit our California DUI page to learn more.
Assume you were arrested for DUI and taken to the county jail. You must now go through the booking process. Any idea on how longit takes?
The booking process can take less than an hour or up to several hours depending on such things as:
a police station’s particular booking procedures,
the number of arrestees being booked, and
the number and availability of booking officers.
In general, booking is the administrative step taken after an arrested person is brought to the police station.1 The process creates an arrest record after someone is taken in custody.
A station’s booking system usually involves the following five steps:
taking personal information and a mug shot,
gathering clothing and personal items,
running the person’s rap sheet,
health screening, and
routine questioning to help with jail conditions.2
1. Does booking begin with personal information and a mug shot?
Most often, yes. A police officer typically starts the booking process by recording:
your name and contact information, and
the criminal offense you were arrested for.
The officer then takes your mug shot and adds it to your booking information.
Note that one purpose of a mug shot is to create evidence of your physical condition after an arrest. Your condition could be an issue, for example, if you later claim you were the victim of police misconduct.
2. Do the police take your clothing and personal property?
Booking officers will usually take your clothing and personal property (for example, a wallet or watch) during booking.
You are then given jail/police-approved clothes to wear.
Your original clothing and personal items are typically boxed up and you can have them back after you are released from custody.
But note that the police can keep your clothes or property if either is considered:
evidence of your alleged crime.
3. Will the authorities take your fingerprints and search you?
Most often, yes. The booking process usually involves an officer taking your fingerprints.
The officer then typically runs your prints through a criminal database. The purpose is to see if you have any outstanding warrants against you.
During booking, the police will also conduct a pat-down search of your person. Depending on the booking procedures of the station you are brought to and the crime you were arrested for, the police may also perform a strip search/full-body search.3
4. What about a medical screening?
Yes, the police usually conduct a health screening of an arrestee. The screening may involve:
DNA sample, and
The screening is usually conducted to make sure you do not have a dangerous disease.
5. Is there questioning to help with jail conditions?
Booking officers may ask you certain questions during booking to help reduce the chance of dangerous jail conditions.
For example, an officer may ask about:
past gang affiliations, and
certain relationships you had prior to your arrest.
Your answers may result in you getting placed in a certain section of jail away from others.
Please keep in mind that this questioning could amount to a police interrogation, which would require an officer to read you your Miranda rights.
Once read these rights, you can request a criminal defense attorney and remain silent.
6. What are your rights during the booking process?
You have the right to not answer any questions from a booking officer.
You should avoid:
volunteering any information,
admitting guilt, and
answering any questions about your alleged crime.
Note that you also have the right to request to speak with an attorney or law firm at any time during the booking process. A defense lawyer can help by:
answering an officer’s questions on your behalf,
securing a bail bond after your booking is complete,
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.