San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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“But Officer, I Only Had Two Drinks”

The number one response to law enforcement when someone is pulled over for driving under the influence is to tell the police you only had two drinks. Sometimes it’s true, but often times it’s not so true. When clients come into my office to meet with me for a DUI consultation, I often say things like, “my wine glasses are 23 ounces, how large are your glasses”? At this point, clients are often more forthcoming as to the actual amount of alcoholic beverages they consumed the day of their arrest.

Even if a client has a fairly accurate recollection of the events leading up to their arrest, including location and number of beverages consumed and type and amount of food consumed, they still may be in the dark about how many “drinks” they had.

For DUI purposes, a drink should be thought of as 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor, 6 ounces of wine with an approximate alcohol volume of 12.5 percent or 12 ounces of beer or malt beverage with an alcohol content of 3.2 to 4.5 percent by volume.

The problems start to arrive as the alcohol is consumed. Alcohol impairs our judgment and effects our ability to recollect events accurately. Thus, when we drink alcohol it can become difficult to remember some details of what we did. Next, sometimes people wish to minimize their conduct hoping that if they say they only had two beers, they believe it might help them gain some ground.

For my purposes we must remember that anything you tell your lawyer either during his representation of your or in anticipation of him helping you is strictly confidential. Please be honest with your lawyer and cooperate with him. Help him to obtain as much information as possible to help you resolve your case in the most favorable manner possible.

Next, please understand clearly what “a drink” really means. I have been drinking a lot of IPA (India Pale Ale) style beer lately. Many of these beers have alcohol contents of 7 percent or higher. Some Belgian style beers or even restaurant microbrews have alcohol contents well into the double digits. Also, remember that a pint, or a schooner is not the same as a 12 ounce bottle or can.

If you drink wine, understand that a glass is thought of as 6 ounces and many modern wines have alcohol contents well above 15 percent by volume. A friendly bartender may turn a 5 glass bottle into a 3 or 4 glass bottle for a good customer or a pretty face. What you think is two glasses of wine may, in reality, be 3 or 4 or even more.

Finally, many hard liquor drinkers are enjoying spirits that are “cask strength” or “barrel strength”. Instead of an 80 proof or 40 percent by volume beverage, you may be drinking something that is well over 100 proof or 50 percent alcohol by volume. This is common with both dark and light liquors. Often, beverages are not “measured” when they are poured, especially at home or with friends. 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor is a “drink”, but it is not a large volume of liquid or a large amount of alcohol for a social drinker.

Try using a measured glass when pouring your next shot or your next glass of wine. Please carefully read beer, wine and liquor labels labels for alcohol volume and size before consuming the beverages. And please, please, please, if you are going to be drinking, Don’t Drive! Take a cab, a bus, a train, a limo, or use a designated driver. Plan ahead. A $50 cab ride can save you thousands of actual dollars in legal fees, insurance, court costs, etc.

Please see my website article about the actual costs of a DUI for more information on this topic.

If you have any questions about DUI or Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs or a combination of the two, please call me: (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or email me at: or

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