Driving under the influence is a priorable offense in California. This means that its penalties tend to increase with each subsequent charge of DUI within a ten-year timeframe. At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we help individuals charged with DUI to become acquitted or have their charges reduced. Contact us as soon as possible if you have been arrested for DUI within the city of Barrett.
The Meaning of DUI
According to California’s Vehicle Code 23152(a), the offense of DUI occurs when an individual operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As per VC 23152(e), it is unlawful for any person to drive a car while under the influence of drugs, regardless of whether they are narcotics or prescription medication. Also, as highlighted by Vehicle Code 23152(f), a person who drives while under the combined influence of a drug and an alcoholic beverage will be held to have committed the offense of DUI.
The state of California has a prescribed blood-alcohol level limit, which all drivers should observe. If you exceed this limit, you will be held have committed the offense of 'DUI per se.' This means that the prosecution will not be under an obligation to prove that you were actually intoxicated when you were driving.
The maximum BAC limit for drivers in California is 0.08%, while that for commercial drivers is 0.04%. Teenagers and individuals who are serving a probation term are not permitted to drive if their blood-alcohol content level is 0.01% or higher.
There are several sobriety checkpoints in California, including Barrett city. The primary purpose of these checkpoints is to enable law enforcement officers to stop vehicles and investigate whether their drivers are intoxicated. Most of these checkpoints are situated in highly visible areas.
Typically, law enforcement officers may stop a certain percentage of motor vehicle drivers. If they suspect you of being intoxicated, they will subject you to a chemical breath test.
Sometimes, a law enforcement officer can flag you down even if you are not in a sobriety checkpoint if he suspects you of drunk driving. Police officers quickly become suspicious if they notice you speeding, driving recklessly, or violating a particular traffic law. When you pull over, you may be subjected to a blood-alcohol chemical test.
You will be put under arrest for DUI if the law enforcement officer has any reason to believe that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means that you can still be arrested for DUI even if you have not exceeded California’s blood-alcohol content level limits.
What Happens After You Have Been Arrested for Drunk Driving?
When a law enforcement officer arrests you for DUI, he will confiscate your driving license. Then, he will issue you with a suspension or revocation order. This order will act as your temporary license within thirty days from the date of arrest.
You should request a DMV hearing within ten days after you have been arrested for you to get back your license. A DMV hearing is an informal procedure that permits you to defend yourself to prevent your license from being suspended automatically. You may get back your license if you win the DMV hearing. If you don’t, your license will be suspended for a fixed period depending on your situation. Note that the court can also issue a suspension order on your license without paying regard to the DMV suspension period. For you to reinstate your license, you will have to start the application process all over again, show proof of completing a DUI educational program and pay the requisite fees.
You will also be taken to police custody, and you will be presented to the court if the prosecution believes that they have enough evidence against you. The court can release you on bond or bail terms pending the final hearing and determination of your case.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Barrett, you should hire a Barrett DUI attorney to defend you during the court trial. This attorney can also enter into a plea bargaining agreement with the prosecution for your charges to be reduced.
As asserted earlier, DUI is a priorable offense. Its penalties worsen with each subsequent DUI charge. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may have to face the penalties listed below upon conviction:
- Jail term
- Completion of a DUI educational program
- Suspension of your driver's license
How DMV Hearings Differ From DUI Court Cases
A DMV hearing is quite distinct from a DUI court trial. Typically, the DMV initiates per se proceedings immediately after you have been arrested for driving under the influence. On the other hand, criminal DUI cases don’t start immediately, and they can only commence when the prosecutor files charges against you in court. A DMV hearing can go forward even if the prosecutor has not filed any drunk driving charges against you.
In both DMV hearings and criminal DUI trials, it is the government that bears the burden of proof. This means that it is up to the government to prove that you were actually under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving. As the defendant, you can present evidence to discredit any fact which the government adduces.
The major difference between DMV hearings and DUI court cases is that DMV hearings are usually informal. DMV hearings are conducted in small, private rooms at the DMV office; or even via the phone. They are presided by a hearing officer who isn't an attorney or a judge and has no formal legal education or training.
On the other hand, a DUI court trial is a formal procedure, and it takes place in criminal courtrooms that are open to the public. It is the judge who presides over it, and the jury that decides whether the defendant is guilty.
Even though DMV hearings are informal procedures, you will still need an attorney. It is challenging to represent yourself effectively at a DMV hearing, and a misstep can negatively affect your DUI court trial.
Misdemeanor DUI vs. Felony DUI
DUI is categorized as a wobbler in California, and the prosecutor may charge it as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on his discretion. If you had stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and submitted to a chemical breath test, and it showed that you had exceeded 0.08%, the prosecutor will most likely charge you with misdemeanor DUI. The punishments for most DUI misdemeanors include:
- Fines of up to $1000
- A jail term of a period not exceeding one year
- DUI education programs
The prosecutor will charge you with felony DUI if he believes that there are some aggravating factors in your case. For instance, maybe you were driving recklessly because of being intoxicated, and you caused an accident that resulted in injuries or death to another person. Or rather, perhaps you have had three or more prior DUI convictions on your record. The punishments for felony DUI are more severe when compared to misdemeanor DUI.
Some of the punishments for felony DUI include a state prison sentence of sixteen months, two years, or three years, fines that may range from $390 - $1000, an order to install an IID in your vehicle for at least one year, and being designated as a habitual traffic offender by the DMV. A conviction of a DUI causing death has the most grievous penalties, and it may lead to life imprisonment and a strike on your record pursuant to California’s Three Strikes law.
First Time DUI
If you have been convicted of a first time DUI in California, the court will sentence you with the least grievous penalties. The primary purpose of these penalties is to warn you to refrain from driving while being intoxicated. The penalties for a first time DUI include a fine that may range from $390 - $1000, a license suspension period of six months, and a jail term of between 48 hours and six months.
Second Time DUI
A second-time DUI conviction may lead to the following penalties:
- A 3-year probation period
- An order to attend a DUI school for 18 or 30 months
- A jail term of a minimum of 96 hours to a maximum of one year
- A license suspension period of two years
Third Time DUI
The penalties for third time DUI are more severe than those for a first time or second time DUI. They include fines that may range from $390 - $1000, a jail term of up to one year, a license suspension period of up to three years, an order to attend a DUI educational program for 30 months, and an informal probation period of 3-5 years.
You are most likely to receive a jail sentence upon being convicted of DUI if you injured another person while drunk driving or if you failed to submit to the chemical breath test. If you killed another person while driving under the influence, the Prosecution Department of California might charge you with the offense of vehicular manslaughter, under PC 191.5. A conviction of this crime can lead to a state prison sentence of two years to life. Furthermore, if your DUI is due to drug-related issues and you were found to be in possession of narcotics when you were arrested, then you should expect further criminal drug charges.
Typically, a first offense DUI convictions result in lower jail terms. These jail terms will increase with each additional DUI offense in a timeframe of ten years.
Also, some aggravating factors have the potential to increase your jail term. Some of these factors include having a BAC level of 0.15% or higher, being below 21 years at the time of arrest, refusing to take the BAC test, causing an accident, speeding, and child endangerment.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Barrett, you should reach out to a Barrett DUI attorney to ascertain whether you may face a jail term and its length. A DUI attorney has the expertise to know precisely which consequences you may face if you are convicted.
DUI Educational Programs
Any person who has been convicted of driving under the influence should enroll in a DUI educational program. The period of this program varies depending on whether you have been convicted of first, second, or third time DUI.
There are up to 500 certified DUI schools in California, and all of them offer in-person classes. No online DUI educational program has been licensed in California.
These classes may stretch your budget and make you incur an extra financial burden. A first time DUI convict may have to part with $840 - $1850 to complete the educational program. Repeat DUI offenders may spend between $1,900 - $3,000 to attend all the classes.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An IID resembles a cellphone, and it is wired to your vehicle’s ignition. When you install the IID, you will have to breathe into it first before starting the car’s engine. If the device detects alcohol on your breath, then the car engine will fail to start. Moreover, as you drive, you will be prompted to provide breath samples periodically to ensure that there is no alcohol in your body system.
As a DUI convict, the court may order you to install an IID in your car. In such situations, you will have to look for an authorized installer and show proof of installation to the court. The court will also alert the DMV for them to mark your driving record so that a law enforcement officer is aware of the IID requirement when he flags you down. If you don't install the IID per the court's orders, the DMV will withdraw all your driving privileges until you comply.
Besides the court, the DMV can issue you a directive to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car, especially if you have been convicted of third time DUI. In such a case, you will have to submit verification of installation ignition interlock form within thirty days from the date when the DMV issued the installation directive.
Once you have installed the IID in your vehicle, a certified installer should calibrate and inspect it at intervals, not exceeding 60 days. This installer will ensure that the device is working correctly, and no violations, such as not taking random retests, have been logged. If the installer notices that you have not complied with the IID requirements, he will report you to the court or the DMV, and your driving privileges may be revoked. You will be personally responsible for the costs of the IID installation and maintenance.
Statute of Limitations
The prosecution should file charges against you within one year after you have been arrested for DUI. If your DUI is a felony, the charges should be filed within three years after the date of arrest.
If the prosecutor does not institute charges against you within these stipulated time frames, then you will be free from prosecution. The reason why there exists a statute of limitations in the overall legal framework of California DUI is the belief that evidence weakens as time flies.
Also, if you have been charged or convicted of drunk driving, the DUI will remain on record for ten years. However, some DUIs are held on record for an indefinite period. This Statute of Limitations only applies to first time DUI, and the timeframes for your DUI to be held on record will vary if you have been convicted of repeat DUI. You can consult the San Diego’s public record office to know whether your DUI record is still on record.
You can expunge your California DUI conviction, as highlighted under California’s penal code 1203.4. Of course, having a DUI record will deter you from accessing opportunities such as jobs and scholarships. If you have ever been convicted of DUI in Barrett, you should expunge the conviction as soon as possible for you to prevent yourself from being denied opportunities. All you need to do is to consult a Barrett DUI Attorney.
The expungement process is quite hectic, and it involves various procedures. You can only expunge your record after your case has been concluded. Any person can expunge his felony or misdemeanor DUI conviction provided that he has completed his probation period, didn’t receive a state prison sentence and is covered by the realignment law under proposition 47.
For you to receive an expungement, your attorney will first petition the court of your conviction. The judge will review this petition to determine if you have qualified for expungement. If he deems you to be eligible, you will plead not guilty, and the judge's verdict will be an order to expunge your record. However, if the prosecution department charges you with another drunk driving offense within ten years from the conviction date, this first conviction will be deemed to be a prior offense even if it had been expunged.
Find a Barrett DUI Attorney Near Me
Regardless of whether you have been charged with a first time, second time, or third time DUI, you will still need an attorney to be on the safe side. It is always best to have legal representation for your rights to be protected. We at the San Diego DUI Attorney have represented numerous defendants in DUI criminal court trials. Call us today at 619-535-7150 to discuss your case with an experienced Barrett DUI Attorney. We will be delighted to help you.