With the increased vigilance of law enforcers on California roads, the slightest suspicion of drunk driving could get you arrested. Calling a defense attorney to advise you immediately after an arrest for a driving offense is very important. Your attorney will help you avoid giving self-incriminating statements, which could compromise your case. As part of the San Diego DUI Attorney team, our Alpine DUI attorneys are always ready to help you out when you are facing DUI charges. You should get in touch with us as soon as possible so that our attorneys can ensure your rights are not violated and you have the proper representation.
Alcohol and Drug-Related Driving Offenses
California DUI law prohibits individuals from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Any driving offense committed by an intoxicated driver is charged under this law. The majority of the driving offenses committed in the state of California are linked to the use of alcohol or other drugs. Here are some of the most common DUI crimes that California drivers are charged with.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Other Drugs
Under California Vehicle Code 23152(a), a driver is considered to be under the influence of drugs if the effects of these drugs or alcohol impair their judgment substantially. A blood alcohol test is usually administered to test the amount of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream. However, the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is stricter for specific drivers under California DUI laws. For an adult driver, the acceptable blood alcohol content while driving is below 0.08%.
If you are a commercial driver, you can get charged with a DUI for driving when your BAC exceeds 0.04%. California has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. This makes it illegal for individuals below the age of twenty-one (21) years to drive with a blood alcohol content that exceeds 0.01%. Apart from the evidence provided by the BAC test for a DUI offense, the prosecutor must show that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle.
DUI offenses are often based on one’s blood alcohol content as opposed by impairment. The amount of alcohol a driver consumes to reach the legal limit will be determined by these factors:
- Strength of drinks consumed,
- The time between alcohol consumption and BAC testing,
- Medical conditions that affect how your body metabolizes alcohol, and
- Body size and amount of food consumed before drinking.
DUI Hit and Run
In the case where you cause an accident while driving, the law expects you to stop and help the police in the investigations of the occurrence. You will get charged with a hit and run if you are involved in an accident and flee the scene without helping the people involved or speaking with the police officers. A driver who causes an accident while intoxicated and leaves the scene of the crime will get charged with both DUI and hit and run offenses.
Drivers may flee a hit and run scene to avoid getting tested for alcohol. In other cases, your level of impairment might prevent you from noticing the accident you caused. Hit and run are treated as serious crimes even when alcohol is not involved. Driving under the influence of drugs is likely to cause crashes due to impairment brought about by said drugs.
The nature of the accident caused determines the severity of punishment for this offense. A DUI hit and run that causes property damage is treated as a misdemeanor. However, for repeat offenders, it is treated as a felony. If you caused an accident that led to severe injury or death of an individual, you would get charged with a first-class felony offense. If you are convicted for DUI hit and run, you will face penalties for both charges.
Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated
Under California Penal Code 191.5(b), a charge of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated has the following elements:
- You were driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The prosecutor must show that you drove with a BAC that exceeds the acceptable limit
- While driving, you committed a crime that was likely to cause death. You must have committed a minor offense that could have caused severe injuries or death, even if it was not dangerous. Being intoxicated is not considered as an infraction in this case
- Your misdemeanor act was out of negligence. You are considered guilty for violating Penal Code 191.5(b) if your actions were a result of ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence means that you did not use common sense to prevent the occurrence of the accident
- Your actions and negligent conduct caused the death of another person. You can only get charged with this offense when your negligent acts led to the loss of life. Your actions need not have been the only cause of death, but the main factor that caused the said death.
Driving while intoxicated During a DUI Probation
If you are sentenced to probation for a DUI offense, the law prohibits you from driving with a BAC higher than 0.01%. You will also be required to submit a blood alcohol test when called upon to do so. If you refuse to take the test, your driver's license will be revoked or suspended for a period of one (1) to three (3) years.
DUI Conviction for Immigrants
A first DUI conviction for immigrants may not carry severe consequences. However, the following DUI offenses can lead to the deportation of a non-citizen:
- Causing an accident while driving under the influence of drugs
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs while having a child in the vehicle. Other than DUI, you will be charged for child endangerment under California Penal Code 273(a)
- Multiple DUI convictions or a history of sentences for other crimes. Some DUI offenders are inadmissible to the United States after conviction for just an ordinary DUI.
You are inadmissible to the United States if you have a prior conviction for two (2) or more crimes and you have spent five (5) years or more in jail. A five-year sentence will affect individuals who have a prior felony conviction. This is because a fourth DUI conviction within ten (10) years is treated as a felony, carrying up to three (3) years in jail. This plus the penalty for a repeat offense can push you to the five-year limit. Our team of Alpine DUI attorneys can help you fight these DUI charges to possibly have reduced punishment or a dismissal of the case.
California Vehicle Code 23136 imposes a Zero tolerance law for underage drinking and driving. It is a civil offense for any driver below the age of twenty-one (21) to drive with an alcohol content exceeding 0.01%. This law not only applies to alcohol but also other drugs or beverages that contain alcohol. After you are flagged down by a traffic officer, a post-arrest chemical test will be performed. The test is a breath test using a Breathalyzer or a blood alcohol content test. However, before these tests, a sobriety test will be administered to confirm impairment.
Violating Vehicle Code 23140 underage DUI is treated as an infraction that may not result in jail time. If you are found guilty, your driver’s license will be suspended for one (1) year. Also, you will be required to attend a mandatory alcohol program of three (3) months or longer.
If you are below twenty-one (21) years of age, you can also be charged with standard DUI when your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more. Refusal to take the post-arrest chemical or sobriety tests will lead to a suspension of your driver’s license for a maximum of one (1) year.
Driver’s License Suspension
A driver’s license suspension is one of the most dreaded DUI penalties in California. After a DUI arrest, your license suspension is not necessarily automatic, and you have an opportunity to fight it. For a first time DUI offense, your license can either be court triggered or an administrative license suspension.
Court Triggered Driver’s License Suspension
According to Vehicle Code 13352, a court conviction for a first DUI will trigger a license suspension of six (6) months. The court does not impose this suspension but contacts the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to deal with it. If you can get your DUI charge reduced to recklessness or any other offense other than DUI, there won't be a court triggered suspension of your license.
The California DMV may allow you to drive your vehicle if you agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID). With the help of an Alpine DUI Attorney, you can contest the DUI case. If the court does not find you guilty, there won't be a court triggered drivers' license suspension.
Administrative License Suspension in California
Due to the Per Se violations, the DMV will try to have your driver’s license suspended. This will happen after your first DUI conviction. After an arrest for alleged DUI, you will be given ten days to apply for a DMV hearing. This will put a hold on your license suspension until the DUI case is heard. If you do not request the hearing within the given time, the DMV will proceed to suspend your license.
However, this type of suspension will only apply if you are arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. The chances of fighting a license suspension, in this case, may be slim. Nevertheless, with the help of an experienced Alpine DUI Attorney, your chances of fighting the license suspension may be improved. The hearing held by the DMV is independent of the court hearing. The DMV’s concern is about your driving privileges as well as the circumstances surrounding your arrest. On the other hand, a court trial will aim at proving your guilt.
The outcome of your DMV hearing will not affect your DUI court case. The DMV officer will reserve the action of suspending your license. If the DMV has already suspended your license, the outcome of the criminal case may affect the DMV license suspension.
If you lose the DMV hearing, you are entitled to another hearing one year (1) after your arrest. With the help of a DUI attorney, your charges can be reduced to reckless driving. This will have nothing to do with you driving under the influence of drugs, and will not affect your driving privileges. If your driver's license gets suspended, you can file for a restricted driver's license.
Suspension of a Commercial Driver’s License
In the state of California, commercial vehicles are classified into vehicles that require a class B and those that are mandated a class C driver’s license. The class B license includes heavy trucks and any other vehicle weighing more than twenty-six thousand (26,000 lbs.) pounds. Class C is often for smaller commercial vehicles, school buses, and vehicles that carry hazardous products.
Under California Vehicle Code 23152(d,) the acceptable blood alcohol content for commercial drivers is below 0.04%. Commercial drivers face severe consequences if convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol. You will be charged with commercial DUI for driving a commercial vehicle with a blood-alcohol content exceeding 0.04%. Additionally, you are considered to be under the influence of drugs when your mental and physical abilities are impaired.
A restricted driver’s license will allow you to drive your vehicle in case your license is suspended for DUI. The restricted license will only be used to drive to and from work, go to a DUI program ordered by the court, attending medical checkups, and driving your young child to school. If your license is suspended for underage DUI, you will be required to use public transportation to and from school.
To file for a restricted license, you will be required to file an SR22 form. Your car insurance company will provide this document. SR22 is issued to act as proof that you have met all car auto insurance requirements. Your insurance company will mail the same form to the DMV. This will help to get your driving privileges reinstated.
The time it takes to get your restricted license is determined by the type of suspension issued. The court triggered suspension is more comfortable to reinstate as compared to the administrative suspension. If you suffer both types of suspension, you will have to wait thirty (30) days to get it reinstated. If you fail to submit to the chemical tests after an arrest, you are likely to face a one-year license revocation. Getting a revocation means you won’t be allowed to obtain a restricted license for a period of twelve (12) months.
However, once the one-year period is complete, you can file an SR22 form to get your license reinstated. The requirements for filing an SR22 form and getting a restricted license may be difficult for you to understand. With the help of our Alpine DUI attorneys, you can understand how to go around the whole process and avoid getting your driver's’ license suspended in the future. If you are issued with a restricted driver’s license, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Ignition Interlock Device Installation
An ignition interlock device is a small Breathalyzer instrument the size of a cell phone. This device is installed near the steering wheel of your car. If the court orders you to install an IID in your vehicle as part of the DUI probation, you are required to have it installed professionally. Every time before you start driving, you should blow into the IID to provide your alcohol content sample. If you fail to submit the breath test, the vehicle will not start.
Once you are driving, the device will ask for random tests. When the instrument requires you to give your sample, you have six (6) minutes to submit the sample. If the period passes without your sample, the device will disable your vehicle. If you fail the test, the results will be registered and sent to court. The IID is designed in a manner that only the driver can provide their breath sample. This is done by creating a breathing pattern and making it an offense to get another person’s sample.
If you are ordered to install the IID, you must do a maintenance check every two (2) months. For a first DUI, you may be required to retain the IID for six (6) months. Under California DUI law, the judge must order installation of an IID for:
- One (1) year following a second DUI Conviction,
- Two (2) years for a third conviction, and
- Three (3) years for a fourth or successive DUI conviction.
Find a Competent DUI Attorney Near Me
If you are facing any DUI related offense, it is crucial to seek help from a qualified DUI attorney. The San Diego DUI Attorney in Alpine, California, will help you navigate the complex process of DUI cases. Our team of experienced attorneys deals with cases ranging from underage DUI, standard DUI, driver’s license suspension to serious offenses of DUI homicide. If you are facing any of these charges, you will need our expertise at your side. Call us today at 619-535-7150 to discuss your case.