Facing a DUI criminal charge in San Diego can be intimidating. This is because the charge comes with severe penalties that can alter your life, future, and career negatively. Fortunately, there is hope. You are innocent till proven guilty, and you are entitled to legal representation. At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we understand what is at stake when having a DUI charge, and we will do our best to fight for your legal rights.
Learning What DUI in California is
Drunk driving is a major issue in Canyon City. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1.8 percent of drivers get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08 percentage. That seems like a small percentage, right? But with 26,199,436 motorists in 2016, 1.8 percent is 471,589 motorists. This figure could even be higher; not every driver admits that they drove while drunk.
Unfortunately, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety Annual Report in 2017, the number of deaths resulting from DUI increased by approximately sixteen percent in 2016 from 2015.
Consequently, a DUI charge in California is harshly prosecuted. If arrested for drunk driving, you will ultimately get charged with either:
- California Vehicle Code 23152 (a) VC (driving under the influence of alcohol), or
- California Vehicle Code 23152 (b) VC (driving with a BAC of .08 percent or higher).
To prove that you are guilty of violating the above-mentioned laws, the prosecutor must prove that:
- You drove your car, and
- You were drunk when you operated the car.
For the purpose of better understanding, here is a further explanation of the definition.
The first element of Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) is met when field police officers see you operating your car.
However, this is not always the case. Your car's motor could be running, yet you have not moved the vehicle. Or you could be sleeping in your car. There are several types of drunk driving scenarios that present themselves every day. Therefore, it is not sufficient for a prosecutor to present proof that you were drunk; they should prove that you were driving while drunk.
The law holds that driving should be constituted by some movement which should be proved using circumstantial evidence.
Under the Influence
You are considered to be under the influence in California due to consuming alcohol. In other words, you are driving under the influence when your system has impaired your judgment to a level that you cannot similarly drive a vehicle as a sober motorist.
Different Types of DUI Services Offered by an Experienced Canyon City DUI Attorney
There are different types of crimes related to drunk driving that an individual can face. At San Diego DUI Attorney, we feel it is our responsibility to give you details about these types of charges. Penalties and consequences vary depending on whether it is a first-time or subsequent offense and other factors like previous criminal history and the presence of aggravating factors. These offenses include:
First-time DUI Offense
A first-time DUI offense in California is a misdemeanor. It attracts:
- Typically three years of informal/summary probation,
- Three months of attending an alcohol education program
- Fines and penalty assessment that is between $1,500 and $2,000,
- A maximum of six months sentence,
- Travel restriction to Canada, and
- Work release.
You can be in a position to continue enjoying driving privileges if you are given an IID restricted license. The IID restricted license requires you to keep an IID (ignition interlock device) installed in your vehicle for 4 months. If you fail to get the IID restricted license, you will be required to endure a driver's license suspension for six months unless:
- You request a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing and win it, and
- You are not convicted of drunk driving in court.
Second Drunk Driving Offense
DUI in California is priorable; penalties increase with every consecutive wet reckless or DUI conviction that occurs within ten (10) years. A second-time offense DUI is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by:
- Three to five years of informal probation,
- A maximum of $2,000 in penalty assessment and fines,
- A ninety-six hour to one year sentence in county jail,
- Attending DUI school for eighteen to thirty months,
- Withdrawal of driving privileges for two (2) years which after 12 months can be converted to a restricted license, and
- Installation of IID in your car for a year.
Notably, when the court imposes a sentence which has probation, the following conditions should be complied with:
- You shouldn’t operate your vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in the blood,
- You should not be involved in any other criminal activity, and
- You should not refuse to take a chemical test should you be charged with a subsequent drunk driving offense.
Third-time Drunk Driving Offense
A third drunk driving conviction within the look-back period carries more severe penalties than a first and second conviction. Typically, the court will impose the following penalties:
- Three and five years of summary probation,
- A maximum sentence of one year,
- Fines that ranges from $2,500 to $3,000,
- Installing an IID for two (2) years,
- Revocation of driving privileges for three (3) years which can be converted to a restricted license after eighteen months, and
- Attending DUI school for thirty months.
You are likely to face a California felony charge if you have been charged with DUI and you have three (3) or more previous drunk driving convictions within ten (10) years. In this context, previous convictions consist of any combination of the following:
- Driving under the influence (Vehicle Code Section 23152a VC)
- Driving with excessive BAC (Vehicle Code Section 23152b VC)
- DUI causing injury (Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC) which includes gross vehicular manslaughter and negligent,
- Wet reckless (Vehicle Code Section 23103.5 VC)
- A previously expunged conviction for any of the above crimes, and
- An out-of-state conviction which if committed in California would be a violation of any of the above laws.
Sentencing Guideline for Fourth DUI
While felony DUI is as a result of having multiple drunk driving convictions, penalties vary depending mainly on the case's facts and the presence of aggravating factors. The penalties include:
- Sixteen months or two (2) or four( 4) years in prison,
- Designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender for three years
- Fines that ranges between $390 and $1,000, and
- Revocation of driver's license for four years.
DUI Hit and Run
You are likely to face both DUI and hit and run charges if while drunk, get into an accident, and leave the road accident scene. Both charges are severe on their own, but they carry severe penalties when together. Therefore, if you are facing these charges, you need the legal support of a competent Canyon City DUI attorney.
The sentencing guideline for DUI hit and run includes:
- A fine of up to $10,000,
- A two to a four-year sentence in California state prison,
- One year in jail if the road accident leads to a minor injury and
- Six months in jail or a fine of $1,000 if the road accident only involved property damage
If you are charged with drunk driving, you might hear the prosecutor saying that your case has aggravating factors. If you are not familiar with this term, you might be wondering how these factors will affect your case. In law, aggravating means if certain factors are present, your offense is more serious than a standard offense. Consequently, you are likely to face additional penalties for the offense you are charged with.
Discussed below are common factors that enhance DUI sentence in California:
Although it is unlawful to have a BAC that is greater than 0.08%, under Vehicle Code 23578 VC, a BAC of 0.015 or higher is a special factor that justifies an enhanced sentence. Even after the court imposes probation, you are likely to be required to comply with conditions that may make your life more challenging.
Chemical Test Refusal
Another factor that may enhance your sentence is refusing to submit your urine, blood, or breath test. Because the judge has no proof of the actual BAC, they assume that the BAC level was very high hence sentence you accordingly.
Minor below 14 years in the Car as a Passenger
If arrested for DUI and you have a minor below fourteen years as a passenger, you are likely to face additional forty-eight hours in jail. It is crucial to note that this sentence is compulsory whether probation was granted on the underlying crime or not.
Causing an Accident
If you cause a road accident that results in an injury while you are driving while under the influence, you will be charged with violation of Vehicle Code 23153 VC. The offense can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor. And if you cause a hit and run accident while driving while drunk, you will be convicted with hit and run as well as face a longer drunk driving sentence.
Other Services Offered
Out-of-State DUI Conviction
If you have been arrested for DUI in Canyon City and you are a foreigner, the arresting officer will issue a notice that your driver's license will be suspended in thirty days. You have ten (10) days from the date of the arrest to challenge the suspension.
To do so, you should request a DMV hearing. It is worth noting that you are entitled to this hearing irrespective of where you live. After requesting the hearing, the suspension will be postponed until the hearing's outcome.
Although the DMV hearing is less formal compared to the court proceeding, you can be represented by a DUI attorney. Any skilled lawyer knows how to present your case effectively, prevail at the DMV hearing, and avoid the driver's license suspension.
Out-of-state Motorists and California Courts
A defendant will still be required to get involved in a court proceeding, regardless of whether they lose or win the DMV hearing or even fail to request the hearing. This is because the Superior Court is different from DMV.
One of the major differences is that court proceedings can't happen over the phone. Nonetheless, there are instances your Canyon City DUI attorney can be in a position to show up in court on your behalf.
If you have your charges dismissed or reduced, your home state might not take action against you. However, if you get convicted of DUI, you will be punished in California, and your driving privileges in California will be withdrawn. Also, your home state could impose the same penalties on you.
Plea Bargaining in DUI
One of the most common asked questions is whether a defendant should seek a plea bargain or go to trial in a DUI case. Well, this is a decision that ought to be made after consulting a competent DUI attorney. Your attorney will put the following factors into consideration:
- How strong the prosecution's case is,
- Your risk tolerance, and
- Whether you have previous convictions.
Plea bargaining is negotiating not to take the case to trial. Typically, it involves either charge reduction or sentence reduction.
To get your sentence reduced, you will plead guilty to DUI. In return, you will face the agree-upon consequences and penalties. This helps you know in advance what your sentence will be.
On the contrary, a charge reduction entails you pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Usually, the lesser charge has less severe penalties and stigma compared to a DUI conviction.
Another service offered by a DUI defense attorney is DUI expungement. Under California Penal Code section 1203.4 PC, you get released from any negative consequences of a DUI conviction. Expungement is available to all defendants as long as they:
Complete probation for the crime and
Didn't serve time in California state prison or was sentenced in California state prison but would have spent time in county jail after the implementation of realignment under Proposition 47.
Immediately, you complete your DUI probation, with the help of your attorney, you can file a petition with the court to seal the criminal record. The judge will review the petition to decide whether you qualify for expungement.
If the petition is granted, either:
- If you were found guilty after trial, the judge rules out the verdict, or
- You withdraw your plea of guilty and enter an innocent plea.
After that, your case will be dismissed.
With an expungement, you are assured of an easier time finding a lucrative job. This is because once the conviction has been sealed, no potential employer will be able to use the conviction against you.
Why You Require a Lawyer in the Expungement Process
It is always essential to have a criminal defense lawyer who can complete the necessary paperwork and file on your behalf. Defendants who try to file expungement on their own make mistakes. As a result, they are required to hire a lawyer to bring a motion for reconsideration to rectify their mistake and then have the lawyer file an expungement again.
Common Legal Defenses
More often than not, when people get arrested for drunk driving, they think that either they are guilty or even if they are innocent, they can do nothing to avoid being found guilty. If you're accused of DUI, it is crucial to understand that these are just misconceptions. As the list below demonstrates, there are several defenses that our Canyon City DUI attorney can use to prevent a drunk driving conviction on your record.
Driving Under the Influence Breath Test Mistakes
Driving under the influence breath test can be subject to errors such as:
- Gadget malfunction,
- Improper handling by the police officer,
- Environmental factors, and
- Your physiological conditions like certain diets.
Although driving under the influence breath test is one of the most common methods of measuring BAC, it isn't an accurate method. This is because it does not measure the amount of alcohol in your system directly. Rather, it measures the amount of alcohol in the breath and then converts the amount to determine the amount of alcohol in the blood.
The Arresting Police Officer Did not Observe A Defendant for Fifteen Minutes
Any police officer should conduct a 15-minute observation before administering a breath test. Challenging whether the observation took place is a defense which your Canyon City DUI attorney should use.
This is because most officers don’t conduct the observation period. Instead, they work on paperwork and set up the breath test gadget. Presenting evidence that the observation period was not observed not only brings into question the results but also the drunk driving investigation.
There was no Probable Cause for Stopping You
Before the field police officer
- Can stop a motorist,
- Detain them to conduct an investigation, or
- Arrest them for DUI,
the police should have a reasonable reason that the driver has committed an offense.
If the police do not have probable cause before conducting any of the above investigation stages, then any proof acquired will be ruled out.
Finding a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
Just because you have been arrested for drunk driving doesn't mean you are guilty. There are several areas where the arresting police could have made mistakes or even missed essential details. Irrespective of whether you think you are guilty, hiring the right Canyon City DUI attorney could mean the difference between being convicted and having your charges dismissed. If you hire the San Diego DUI Attorney, you will have a shoulder to lean on throughout this devastating experience. For more information about our various services, contact us at 619-535-7150.