The San Diego DUI Attorney is a leading law firm that defends people who are facing DUI charges in Campo and throughout the San Diego County area. Our attorneys have a vast understanding of California Driving under the Influence (DUI) law and DUI-related laws. We can defend you in all DUI cases to possibly reduce the penalties associated with a DUI conviction.
DUI Under California Law
In California, DUI is a major offense with hefty penalties. California's DUI laws are against driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You are under the influence if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% and above. If you are intoxicated with alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both, you may be guilty of DUI. Apart from motor vehicle drivers, California DUI law prohibits riding bicycles, scooters, or operating boats while under the influence.
Strict BAC standards apply to commercial drivers. As a commercial driver, your BAC should not exceed .04%. First-time offenders may incur more than $2000 in fines and assessments while for repeat offenders, the figures could rise to $18,000. Apart from the fines, offenders may incur other penalties depending on the severity of the DUI offense.
Ways of Measuring BAC
Screening of body samples such as urine, saliva, breath, blood, and hair follicles can help to determine if you are intoxicated. The most common method of determining BAC is breath tests and blood tests. Since blood tests are invasive, they are not as common as breath tests. Blood tests come in after a severe accident, or if a driver refuses to undergo a breath test.
Breath analysis machines use either the wet chemical technique or the infrared spectroscopic analysis technique when analyzing the alcohol content in a driver's breath. A computer translates the data from breath testers and interprets it into familiar and easy to understand BAC measurements.
Though the Breathalyzers may not be as accurate as blood tests, their results are enough to determine if a person is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many misconceptions exist concerning a Breathalyzer. Most people argue that you can conceal the presence of alcohol using breath mints, onions, or mouthwash. These methods cannot help you fool a breath test machine. Mouthwash may make your BAC results worse as some mouthwash products contain alcohol. It is not easy to understand and argue against BAC results. The prosecutor handling your case may have a forensic expert handy; you can only defend yourself through an experienced DUI attorney.
Per Se DUI Laws
Under "Per Se" laws in DUI, if a test reveals that you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent and above, the law considers you intoxicated. No further evidence is required to prove that you are liable. It is essential to understand that even if you feel sober, the BAC test results may prove otherwise. The law makes it so easy to establish intoxication without conducting numerous sobriety tests.
Implied Consent Laws
After stopping your car, an officer checks for any signs of impairment, and if they suspect that you are intoxicated, they will recommend a BAC test. Not all drivers undergo the tests willingly. If you object, the police officers cannot force you to undergo the test. Your Campo DUI attorney will still defend you even in the absence of test results, but you will face some penalties associated with failure to submit BAC results.
Implied consent laws point out that upon applying for a driver's license, a motorist consents to undergo any form of sobriety test that may be necessary. Therefore, if you fail to undergo a BAC test and a police officer suspects that you are intoxicated, you are at risk of license suspension alongside other consequences. If you refuse to undergo a breather test but later agree to a blood test, the law suspends your refusal charges.
Zero Tolerance Laws for Underage DUI
If you are below the age of 21 years, it is illegal to drive under the slightest influence. It does not matter if your BAC is below .08 percent; if you are under the legal drinking age, you will have a case. It is an offense for youths under the age of 21 to buy and possess alcohol in California. According to zero-tolerance laws, it is a criminal DUI offense for underage drivers to have even minimal alcohol content in their blood. Under California law, the underage BAC limit stands at 0.02 percent.
The zero tolerance laws came into operation as so many youths below the age of twenty years lose their lives in alcohol-related vehicle accidents. The alcohol involvement rate for underage drivers is much higher than that of people above the age of 21.
A regular DUI charge carries some hefty penalties. However, some situations can result in more penalties under DUI. If you have some aggravating factors, you will face higher charges and severe sentences for driving under the influence. Some occurrences that may lead to higher charges include:
Extreme levels of alcohol concentration in the blood- According to the law, drivers with a BAC of more than 0.08percent face DUI charges. If after undergoing sobriety tests, your BAC is much higher than .08%, your case automatically, moves from standard DUI to aggravated DUI, also known as extreme DUI. You will face higher fines or more extended imprisonment.
If you happen to have a minor in your vehicle and you still drive while intoxicated, you face aggravated DUI charges. You face high charges as you expose the minor to numerous dangers and risks. If a DUI offense takes place around school zones, you face aggravated DUI charges even if you had no minors in the vehicle.
You may face extreme DUI charges for recurring driving under the influence charges. Repeat offenders face very high DUI charges to discourage first-time offenders from repeating DUI offenses. Even if the previous offenses took place in another state, you would still face hefty charges for repeat offenses.
If you are driving at a very high speed, your case may transition from normal DUI to extreme DUI. If you were driving at very high speed while intoxicated, your charges would be much higher.
Can you Challenge BAC Results?
If you register .08 BAC and above, it does not mean you have to accept all the associated DUI challenges. With the assistance of an experienced Campo DUI attorney, it is possible to challenge the results of a blood or breath test. An attorney can argue against the validity of test results and challenge the equipment used to test the alcohol content. It is a requirement for the breather test machines to undergo routine maintenance. The calibration of the test machines should also be accurate. Your attorney can assess the maintenance records of the machine used to test you. If they find any lapse, they will use it to your advantage.
This is the first stage in DUI procedures. After stopping your vehicle and conducting sobriety tests, a police officer may arrest you. At this stage, you go into police custody, and you do not have the freedom to move about. A police officer does not have to use physical force as long as you comply.
A police officer may arrest you after personally observing a crime. In the case of DUI, observing a crime entails proving that you are intoxicated.
Secondly, if a police officer has a "probable cause" to suspect criminal activity, he or she can legally arrest you. In a DUI case, police will have a probable cause if in case you portray unruly behaviors on the road, such as throwing out beer bottles from a moving vehicle. As long as there is probable cause, a police officer does not have to conduct sobriety tests to arrest you.
A DUI arrest may result after traffic police make a lawful traffic stop. In most cases, DUI cases stem from traffic stops for routine traffic law violations. Traffic law violations include speeding, illegal U-turns, or bad vehicle conditions. In DUI cases, police officers have to prove that they were not harassing or intimidating drivers by stopping them randomly to check for drunken cases.
A police officer may arrest you after obtaining a legal warrant of arrest. A magistrate or a judge issues a warrant when police submit a sworn statement explaining the offenses of a suspect. An arrest warrant explains the offenses of a person and the specific locations where the unlawful events took place. It gives a police officer the authority to arrest.
You can always challenge an unlawful arrest with the help of a Campo DUI attorney. If you feel that the police violated your constitutional rights during the arrest, you can have your attorney challenge the arrest in court. Even while being arrested, drivers have some rights, including the right to remain silent and to be free from unreasonable seizures and rough handling. If you feel that the basis of arrest and the actions of the police officers are questionable, you can challenge the process in court.
DUI Booking and Bail
After arrest, a suspect remains in police custody and undergoes the booking process. Booking entails recording the suspect's identification details, searching the background of the suspect, and recording information of the alleged crime. The police may confiscate personal property, such as vehicle keys. The suspect receives the confiscated items upon release. The suspect remains in a police cell until they secure bail.
Bail is a process whereby a suspect pays a certain amount of money to gain freedom from police custody. After a bail, the suspect has to appear for all court proceedings including the preliminary hearings and the actual trial. A DUI suspect does not seek bail immediately after arrest and booking at a police station. A judge grants release on bail after a suspect first court visit. The judge sets the bail amount based on factors such as the seriousness of the offense, the criminal history of the suspect and suspect ties to the society, employment, and family.
If you cannot afford to pay the set bail amount, you can seek a bond from a bail bond agency. A bond is a written commitment to pay the full bail amount if a suspect fails to appear in court for all hearings as required.
A suspect may also be released based on own recognizance. In such a case, a suspect does not pay any cash bail or provide a bond. Instead, the suspect makes a promise in writing to appear in court for all the necessary procedures. As a judge considers their own recognizance release, he weighs the suspect criminal history, the magnitude of the DUI offense and the suspect's ties to family, society, or employment.
Arraignment in Court
Arraignment is the first stage of courtroom proceedings. Most people who face DUI charges are first time offenders with no idea of how court procedures take place. Arraignment marks a suspect's first appearance in court. At this stage, most suspects may plead guilty, especially if strong evidence is available or is there is an allowance for a plea bargain.
The arraignment process takes place a few days after a DUI arrest. At the arraignment, the judge reads the criminal charges to the defendant. He may ask if the defendant needs the assistance of an attorney. The judge will seek to know how the defendant answers to the charges. At this stage, a defendant may plead guilty or not guilty. At this stage, the judge may alter the prior bail arrangements. The judge announces future proceedings in the case.
A preliminary hearing is also known as "trial before the trial" happens after the arraignment. At this stage, a judge uses probable cause to determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty. During the preliminary hearing, the judge listens to the argument from the prosecutor and the defendant's attorney. The prosecutor may provide physical DUI charge evidence and may call some witnesses to support the case. At this stage, a defense attorney cross-examines the witnesses and the evidence against the defendant and aims at convincing the judge that the defendant should not go to trial. It is important to note that most DUI cases do not reach the preliminary hearing stage. Most of them reach the arraignment stage, as most defendants plead guilty at that stage.
A trial is a high profile stage in the process of seeking criminal justice. However, the majority of DUI cases are resolved before they reach this stage.
If a defendant feels dissatisfied with a court ruling, he may seek an appeal. This entails requesting a higher court to review a DUI case and check the presence of legal errors.
The severity of DUI penalties depends on the magnitude of the offense. The penalties for a first offense less severe compared to repeat offense penalties. An experienced Campo DUI attorney may help argue your case and negotiate for less severe penalties. Some of the DUI penalties include:
License Suspension or Revocation
Drivers whose BAC is above the intoxication limit or drivers who refuse to submit their BAC test results may have their driver's licenses suspended. State agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles suspend licenses. You may lose your license if you register .01 BAC while on DUI probation.
Alcohol Education and Assessment
A DUI offender may be required to attend a mandatory alcohol education and treatment program. The education programs serve as alternatives to serving jail time or paying hefty fines. If a DUI offender attends the alcohol education programs, they may avoid jail time and high fines.
Offender's Vehicle Confiscation
After a DUI offense, the motor vehicle department may seize your vehicle for a set period or permanently if the offense is extreme. Such a penalty is common among repeat offenders. After confiscation, an offender has to pay hefty fines to have his vehicle back.
A DUI offender may be required to pay installation costs and maintenance costs for an ignition interlock device. The device helps measure a driver's BAC and prevents vehicle operation if it detects the presence of a minimal amount of alcohol, usually .02 BAC.
Why You Need a DUI Attorney
A DUI charge can be confusing, particularly if you are a first time offender, and you do not understand the process of navigating through DUI laws. Working with an experienced Campo DUI attorney makes the process simpler and may help in reducing possible penalties through strong defense strategies. Your attorney will also advise you on DUI matters and negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf.
Contact A DUI Attorney Near Me
For all your DUI cases in Campo, CA, contact the San Diego DUI Attorney at 619-535-7150 and speak to one of our attorneys. We are ready to help you in all types of DUI, including first-time offenses and repeat offenses. DUI arrests can be a challenging experience; you do not have to face it all alone. Contact us today!