Alcohol or any other drug substance often impairs one’s thinking and coordination. It is even worse for drivers or people operating machinery since it can lead to fatal accidents, not only to the operator but also to other road users. This prompts different states to put in place stringent rules and penalties for DUI offenses to help alleviate their occurrence.
In this article, we will delve deeper into the DUI offense, discussing the different extents of the offense and penalties it may attract in CA. Also, we will recommend a reputable Borrego DUI attorney to assist you in case you are arrested with this offense.
Chronology of Events during a DUI Arrest
In San Diego, there are several DUI checkpoints and patrols across the county to facilitate a consistent search for drunk drivers, to help safeguard other road users. These checkpoints are strategic, and according to the law, the police should declare where they are currently located to ease abruptness.
At their discretion and using several parameters, the police decide whom to stop for alcohol tests and whom to let go. Some of the early signals that prompt suspicion on a motorist include unstable driving along the highway, careless overtaking, and over speeding.
Immediately the officers sense any of these signs; they stop you to analyze your physical appearance. They then request for a series of sobriety tests- the field sobriety tests, before asking you to blow the preliminary alcohol (PAS) device to determine your extent of intoxication. On sensing the slightest intoxication, you are immediately forwarded to the nearest San Diego jail where you are booked, and several other tests taken before arraignment. This is the stage when you contact a Borrego DUI Attorney. Since dealing with the case on your own can lead you to conviction.
Forms of DUI offenses
Most people, treat DUI offenses as one offense with the common denominator being the fact that you were driving under the influence. However, under the laws of San Diego, Misdemeanor DUI offenses are categorized into two forms in the penal code on vehicular misconduct section 23152 (a) or (b).
In most states, people assume that a suspect with a BAC of .08% and below cannot be charged with a DUI offense. However, in San Diego, any BAC level even below the .08% threshold is prosecutable, provided the following two conditions are ascertained. These include:
- You were operating a motor vehicle- the prosecution qualifies any form of movement by the car as driving, regardless of how slight it was. Additionally, the jury can as well rely on circumstantial evidence to ascertain the element of driving. These are simply facts that demystify driving. For instance, you were sitting on the driver’s seat, the car’s engine was on, the headlights were illuminated, or the keys were in the ignition hole.
- You were driving under the influence of alcohol- the prosecution proves influenced driving only when the suspect’s mental and physical capabilities are dented, to the extent that he/she can no longer drive with the alertness of a sober person. In simpler terms, the prosecution tries to prove all signs of poor driving.
This section is also referred to as the “per se count” and affects motorists with a BAC of over .08%. Just like in the other sections, the prosecution must prove several elements, including:
- Driving a motor vehicle- (some of the evidence are discussed in section (a).)
- BAC level of 0.08% and above- On arrests, the officer’s request for a blood or a Breathalyzer test to check your BAC level. Frequently the test occurs over 30 minutes after you were stopped, hence one may doubt the accuracy of these readings. However, according to the law, any tests that were taken within 3 hours of stopping, are considered legitimate.
Is it a misdemeanor or a felony?
DUI offenders can either face a misdemeanor or a felony charge, with the latter attracting heftier repercussions. With a misdemeanor, as seen in the vehicle penal code 23152, there are usually no injuries recorded. While in the case of a felony, as stipulated under the code 23153 there must be other injuries or deaths, besides that of the driver.
Penalties of DUI offense
Mandatory Penalties for DUI offense
Some very automatic charges frequent any form of DUI prosecution, whether as a misdemeanor or a felony. In any DUI offense hearing, some of the rulings and terms used can be very complicated for non-law scholars to understand. In this section, we will look at some of these terms, before listing down the penalties.
Sentencing in either jail or state prison
A DUI offense can either lead you to a jail or state prison based on several factors. In most cases, a misdemeanor attracts a jail term in jail while a felony leads one to state prison. The sentence is prone to increase following the enhancing circumstances discussed below:
- Excessive speeding on the freeway or highway can increase the jail term to over 60 days
- Declining to have the test attracts a mandatory extra 48 hours in jail
- Provided there was a minor in the car while the test was positive
- If other victims besides the driver were injured, the offender qualifies to go to a state prison with a jail term increment of over one year
- Vehicular manslaughter caused by a hit and run instance
- Physical harm on the victim can escalate the ruling to 3 years per victim involved
Restitutions, Penalty Assessments, and Fines.
These are some of the liquid cash that offenders are expected to pay if found guilty.
- Restitution fees- these are compensation fees given to the victims to compensate for any injury or loss caused by the offender. The price can range from between $100 to $10000 depending on the intensity of the case. This excludes the victim’s out-of-pocket charges or medical fees that are paid separately.
- Penalty assessment charges- The courts of San Diego tend to increase the offender’s fine at its discretion using these privileges. These charges can vary from $1800 to $2200.
- Fines- This is the expected amount of money that a court expects an offender to pay as punishment for committing DUI.
Alcohol Treatment Program.
All DUI offenders are expected to take an alcohol/ drug treatment program to enhance and fast track the rehabilitation process. The San Diego Court can order for a program lasting from 3 months to a maximum of 30 months depending on the frequency of the offense and other discrete factors. In case the driver’s license has been suspended, then the victim must complete this program for the suspension to be reinstated.
For DUI offenders, the probation period can run from 3 to 5 years. The following are the expectations for offenders under probation. One should not:
- Forfeit to pay any fees given including, fines, assessment and reinstitution charges
- Drive, with any extent of alcohol levels in the body
- Commit any other chargeable offense
- Refuse to get any recommended chemical test by the prosecution
Motor Vehicle Impoundment or Forfeiture
The court can impound the subject vehicle if the offender is the legal owner of the car. In such cases, the vehicle is only released after the court proves you innocent. In other extreme cases, the jury can declare the vehicle as a “public nuisance” and decide to forfeit and sell it permanently.
Ignition interlock devices- It is popularly known as an IID device. This is a computerized gadget that restricts the vehicle from starting if the driver is intoxicated with alcohol. Every time before igniting the car, a driver is expected to blow into the device and if the alcohol level is appropriate, then the car starts, and vice versa. The device is mostly given after the driver’s license is reinstated. It is expected to remain installed for to up to three years from the day the license was reinstated.
Restriction, Revocation or Suspension of the Driver’s License
- Restriction- This is a limitation on the number of times you are allowed to drive the car. The court can only allow you to drive when going for treatment, school, court program, or workplaces.
- Revocation- This is the permanent suspension of the driver’s license, with which the victim must apply for another permit once the revocation period expires.
- Suspension- The driver’s license is confiscated for a while or until the driver meets the set standards by the court, for instance, complete an alcohol treatment program.
In some cases, the court can opt to delay the revocation or suspension period to spread even after the convict serves the jail term. This delay often affects the subsequent offenders, offenders who caused an accident, or hit and run convicts. Drivers below 21 years of age are slapped with an extra one-year suspension on top of the recommended DUI charge.
The process of License revocation and Suspension by DMV
The license suspension process commences if the suspect:
- Declined to take the chemical tests required by the arresting officer.
- Has violated the admin per se rules that stipulate the recommended alcohol level as .08% for adults and .01% for minors below the designated drinking age.
Often, if you are found intoxicated, the arresting officer immediately issues you with an order of license suspension and temporary license. With the law, you are allowed to drive for a maximum of 30 days, and from then the suspension takes effect. However, your license must be active and not previously suspended for some other reasons. In this event, you only have ten days to contest the suspension by contacting the DMV to schedule the hearing that is also referred to as the admin per se hearing. To save the day, you require the services of an experienced Borrego DUI Attorney.
Some of the considerations taken by the DMV before lifting the ruling include:
- The lawfulness of the arrest process
- The BAC level could be below .08%
- Did the driver defy to take the preliminary alcohol screenings?
- Was the driver aware that failure to take the test can lead to the revocation of the license?
It is important to note that DMV hearings are entirely different from any other prosecutions. The findings in one case don’t affect the evidence of the other.
Possible DMV Rulings for DUI Offenders
- First-time offenders with a BAC of .08% and above risk a six-month license suspension, while the same category of offenders who refuse to take the chemical tests risk a one-year suspension ruling.
- Second-time offenders under all categories, whether they refused to take the test or not, risk a suspension period of 2 years.
- Third-time offenders and fourth-time offenders risk 3 and 4 years revocation, respectively.
Specific Penalties for DUI Offenders in San Diego
First-time misdemeanor offenders risk over six months in jail and are subject to a fine of about $1000. This is followed by several other penalties depending on whether there is probation provided or not. Some of these penalties include:
- Summary probation of 3 to 5 years
- A jail term of between 48 hours and six months with an additional fine of between $390 and $1000, prone to increase following a penalty assessment
- A probable alcohol treatment program that can last from between 3 months and nine months, depending on the court's findings
- A license suspension of up to 1 year for class A licensed drivers and six months for the rest
- Besides, if you are sentenced without probation, you typically face similar charges, but your jail term increases from 48 hours to 96 hours
Anyone with a previous “wet reckless” offense- the guilty plea of reckless driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances risks mandatory imprisonment. However, the recurrence must have occurred within ten years of conviction. The charges for the second, third, and fourth subsequent offenders vary as discussed below:
- A probation term of between 3 to 5 years
- A fine and penalty that cumulates to over $2000
- Ninety days imprisonment in county jail with an option to substitute it with either a home arrest or work release
- An 18 to 30 months alcohol treatment program
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for about one year
- Probable driver’s license suspension not exceeding two years
- If there is no probation, one is subject to all the above penalties. However, the DMV suspends the license for a maximum of 6 months
- A probation term of between 3 to 5 years
- A total fine and penalties of $2800
- A jail term ranging from 120 days to 1 year
- A 30 months drug and alcohol treatment program
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for about two years
- Invocation of the driver’s license for up to 3 years
- Revocation of the driver’s license for a maximum of 4 years
- Jail term of between 180 days to 1 year
- An alcohol and drug treatment program of 18 months
Reasons for an Enhanced Penalty
Some other factors can play out and cause a substantial increment in the penalties. Some of them include:
- Very high alcohol concentration- Normally, the usual convicting BAC for any DUI in San Diego is about .08%. However, some people tend to exceed this limit exorbitantly. The law cuts the line at 15% concentration, and this now qualifies as a high alcohol concentration that attracts hefty penalties.
- Declining to accept the chemical test- If the preliminary evidence betrays you for DUI, then the officer is obliged to request for a sobriety test using either a dragger or blood tests. Failure to comply with the tests can increase the jail term.
- Speeding and reckless driving- If your BAC test exceeds .08% and at the same time, you are guilty of a speed offense, then your sentence automatically escalates. This comes to play if the defendant exceeded the freeway speed limit by over 30 mph, or 20 mph stipulated on the surface roads.
- Child endangerment- The sheer presence of a minor- a child below 14 years in the car at the time of arrest, is reason enough to increase your sentence. This law applies even though the child was unhurt, and is very hefty if there were probable injuries on the minor.
- Injuries and destruction of property- A DUI offense is even more severe when there is the destruction of property caused during If there is a registered injury or eventual death, then your case immediately qualifies as a felony, and in most events attracts more substantial charges.
Find a Reputable Borrego DUI Attorney near Me
A DUI offense seems like a routine offense to many, but it has extreme repercussions not only to your driving reputation but also your general societal reputation. However, in case you suffer this kind of arrest, it is prudent for you to seek the services of a professional Borrego DUI Attorney. At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we assure you nothing but the best DUI defense services. Call us today at 619-535-7150, and we will be more than obliged to assist.