There are many charges related to DUI in Coronado, California. With the increasing number of DUI cases, the state is continuing to prosecute such cases vigorously, with severe penalties befalling those who are convicted of DUI-related charges. San Diego DUI Attorney takes you through a number of DUI charges, their potential penalties, and how you can contact our Coronado DUI attorney for legal help.
An Overview of DUI Charges
Diving under the influence (DUI) is defined under VC 23152. Part ‘a’ of this section makes it a crime for you to drive while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage. Part ‘b’ specifically prohibits you from driving when your blood alcohol levels are 0.08% and above. Most of the DUIs are treated as misdemeanors. However, you might face a felony charge if:
- A person dies or is injured,
- It is your fourth or subsequent time within ten years from your first conviction.
Generally, DUI penalties increase with a prior conviction and also, with the presence of aggravating factors such as death, injuries, or a minor’s presence in the alleged vehicle. Some of the most common DUI cases are discussed below.
If you are below 21 years, there are a variety of charges you can face if you are caught drunk driving. Surprising, you can be charged with all of them on a single occasion in spite of their elements appearing to overlap. California VC 23136 makes it illegal for any person below 21 years to drive while the blood alcohol levels are 0.01% and above. It is commonly known as the zero-tolerance law.
An underage driver may also be charged under Vehicle Code 23140. This law makes it a crime for any person under the age of 21 to drive when their BAC level is 0.05% or above. In addition to sections 23136 and 23140, sections 23152 (a) and 23152(b) also incriminate drunk driving. The former makes it unlawful for any individual regardless of their age to drive while under the influence. The latter section specifies that the amount of alcohol in the blood should not be above 0.08 % while driving.
Some facts, however, need to be proven by the prosecution for you to be convicted of underage DUI;
- You were driving a vehicle;
- While driving, you were drunk with levels beyond the established legal limits;
- You were below the age of 21 years.
The penalties for underage DUI often differ with the presence of a prior conviction and the criminal law which you are charged under. For instance, if you are charged with VC 23136, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. If you are charged with Violation of VC 23140 for the first time, the penalties will include one year license suspension, fine of one thousand dollars, mandatory attendance to a DUI program for a minimum period of three months and a maximum of 18 months. If you are charged with violating VC 23152, the penalties you will face are a bit harsher. You could be jailed for a period of not more than six months, placed on three to five months’ probation, ordered to attend DUI programs, and you might be subjected to fines not exceeding 100 dollars.
Regardless of the underage DUI charge that you are facing, a Coronado DUI defense attorney can help to defend you by raising the following legal defenses:
- You were subjected to illegal DUI stops and arrests;
- You were a mere passenger and not a driver;
- Your BAC level while driving was actually within the legal limits;
- When arrested, your blood alcohol levels were still rising – an indicator that, when you were driving, the levels were even lower;
- The officers followed incorrect procedures while performing the test. As such, the results are not accurate;
- The food you took or your medical condition contributed to high levels of alcohol, for instance, alcoholic based syrups or mouthwash whose smell is the same as that of alcoholic beverage.
Dui Causing Injury; California VC 23153
This legal section makes it a crime for you to drive while intoxicated and in the process, engage in an illegal or lawful act that causes an accident that injured a person. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties include fines not exceeding 1000 dollars, one-year driving license suspension, and a one-year county jail term.
If treated as a felony DUI, you may face three years driving license suspension, court fines not exceeding 5000 dollars and a possibility of three-year confinement in county jail. In some cases, you may be sentenced to a probation term which may last for up to 5 years. During this period, you are expected to adhere to a range of conditions such as no driving with any amount of alcohol in your blood, avoiding involvement in any other crime, show a willingness to take BAC tests whenever demanded. To be convicted of the offense, the prosecution has to prove that:
- You were driving a vehicle;
- While driving, you were under the influence of either drug, alcohol or even both;
- You did not observe your legal duty while driving, or committed an illegal act;
- You illegal conducts or failure to perform your legal duty while driving caused an accident which resulted in damage to another person’s property or injury to him or her.
Whatever may be the case, fighting DUI causing injuries may prove challenging. Thus, you should consult an experienced Coronado DUI attorney who will defend you from the charge. The possible defenses include; you were not under the influence of any drug or alcohol, your BAC test results were inaccurate, and that wrong BAC and field sobriety test procedures were followed.
DUI Hit and Run
You are charged with hit and run if after causing an accident, you fled or left the scene without notifying the victim or the police. Legally, you are expected to stop, check the level of damage, apologize to the victim and inform the police. You would rarely observe these steps when you are driving under the influence.
The offense is governed by California vehicle code 20002 which views it as a misdemeanor. Committing the crime may land you to penalties that include fines not exceeding 1000 dollars and a six months confinement in county jail. VC 20001 may also view 'hit and run’ as a felony if it caused severe bodily injury or death to another person. The penalties for this offense include court fines ranging from 1000 to 10,000 dollars and not more than three years in state prison. In some cases, if the accident caused death or more severe bodily injury, the defendant would face up to 4 years imprisonment.
Your DUI attorney can defend you against VC 20002 and VC 20001 charges by claiming that:
- Another person was responsible for the accident and not you,
- Your car alone was damaged, and no other person, property or vehicle was injured, and
- You never realized that you had caused an injury.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter
If your drunk driving led to an accident that resulted in the death of a person(s), you might be charged with PC 191.5 (a) – gross vehicular manslaughter. The section describes it as a crime for anyone who while driving, violates DUI laws 23152 (a) and 23152 (b), thereby causing an accident and eventual death of an individual(s). To be convicted of the offense, the prosecution must confirm that while driving, you were under the influence of either alcohol or any other drug, you committed an act viewed as unlawful and acted with gross negligence. Finally, they must confirm that it was your gross negligence that caused an accident and the eventual death of an individual and not a mere mistake or careless driving. Also, the accident and death must not have been premeditated.
Most of the cases involving gross manslaughter while intoxicated occur when vehicles collide resulting in the death of drivers or passengers of another vehicle or vehicles. Sometimes, your passengers may be injured, and this equally subjects you to the same charges. Penalties for gross manslaughter while intoxicated are severe and they may include a ten years imprisonment, fines not exceeding 10000 dollars, and revocation of your driving license. In some cases, you may be forced to attend rehabilitation programs. If you have had prior convictions of vehicular manslaughter or two counts of DUI charges, the fines can be increased to 15,000 dollars.
Wet Reckless; VC section 23103.5
Wet reckless driving, unlike other charges, is not charged independently. Instead, it is given as a plea bargain to DUI charges. Its penalties are a bit lenient compared to ordinary DUI. However, for you to be charged with the offense, the prosecution must ascertain that your blood alcohol levels were just 0.08 or close to it, your bad or reckless driving habits were minimal, or your BAC levels show a consistent rise. You also qualify for this plea bargain if there was no evidence of probable cause for your arrest or if the alcohol handling and testing facilities were insufficient.
The penalties for wet reckless include:
- Fines ranging from 145 to 1000 dollars;
- Between five and ninety days jail term;
- Six weeks attendance to DUI schools;
Wet reckless is a better plea option to DUI charges. This is because its penalties include shorter jail terms, reduced fines, non-mandatory driving license suspension, and that DUI record will not be labeled on your driving criminal record. Also, you will not be forced to install IID (Ignition interlock device)
DUI License Suspension
One of the most common penalties for DUI crimes is the suspension of your driving license. The suspension of the license usually occur in two folds; DMV suspension and court suspension. Often, when you are arrested, the arresting officer confiscates your license and in exchange, gives you a temporary one whose validity is thirty days. During this period, your license is said to be under temporary DMV suspension. Within the first ten days of your arrest, you are expected to send a request for DMV hearing.
The hearing at the DMV gives you a chance to challenge your license suspension which may not always be easy. Your Coronado DUI attorney can represent you in the DMV hearing for your license suspension determination and possibly raise the following issues:
- The DUI stop and subsequent arrests were done at unrecognized checkpoints;
- Wrong test procedures were followed;
- There was a possibility of rising blood alcohol levels;
- You were not driving, especially if there is no witness or any officer present during the arrest;
- The high levels of alcohol in your blood resulted from your physiological processes linked to a diet you took or health conditions;
- The arresting officer never advised you on the likely consequences of not submitting to the BAC test;
- Test apparatus were faulty and possibly produced wrong results;
- There was serious flaws or errors in the arresting officer’s paperwork;
- You submitted to the BAC test as demanded.
Failure to request for DMV hearing within the specified ten days results to automatic suspension of your driving license. Consequently, you will be arraigned in court and if found guilty, your license will further be suspended as part of your penalty. At this point, your attorney can still be of help to refute all the allegations against you and possibly prevent your license from being suspended.
Military Base DUI
DUI crimes could be serious crimes, but they are more serious for military personnel, especially if they are within a military base. Unlike a regular driver who defends himself or herself in DMV and court hearings only, a military driver defends in three avenues namely the California DMV, State or federal-based DUI criminal trial, and the court-martial.
- DMV License Suspension
DMV has rules and regulation that every driver, whether regular or military, must obey. Therefore, if you violate the DUI laws, you will be arrested and your driving license eventually confiscated by the arresting officer. Meanwhile, you will be given ten days like any other driver to request DMV hearing. If you fail to send the request, your license will automatically be suspended for a period not less than four months.
- Criminal DUI Charges
If you are out of your military base when arrested for DUI, you will be prosecuted as a mere civilian under the California DUI laws; but if you are within the base or the civilian officials refused to prosecute you, the court-martial will take charge. This is usually governed by section 911 of article 111 of the Uniform Cord of the Military Justice (UCMJ).
The penalties you may face include a six months confinement period regardless of whether you are prosecuted as a civilian or within the military base. If you are prosecuted within the military, your pay is likely to be reduced. Also, you will be subjected to hard labor.
- Military Punishment
According to the Double Jeopardy under federal law, you cannot be charged twice for the same offense as military personnel. Therefore, if you have been prosecuted as a civilian for the DUI, the military should not prosecute you again. However, the military commanding officer can still take any administrative action against you even if the civilian personnel refrain from pursuing your charges. Consequently, you can be subjected to mandatory treatment and pass privileges provocation.
DUI Records Expungement
DUI expungement involves the erasing or partial sealing of convictions related to DUI for various reasons. Expunging your DUI is advantages in the sense that the offense will not be visible when applying for a variety of jobs. However, you will be forced to disclose them if you are looking for a state license, post in a public office, or If you want to be a peacekeeper. Also, if you are in need of a lottery commission contract, you may also be demanded to disclose your background DUI history.
Though expunged, your DUI charge will still count as a prior conviction if you commit another similar charge within ten years from the previous conviction. You are eligible for DUI expungement if only you pleaded ‘no contest’ or ‘guilty’ to charges. You also qualify if you entered and successfully completed probation. Expunging a DUI conviction is procedural. For instance, you will begin by filing a petition with the court. The judge will review your request, and if permission is granted, you will be required to withdraw your ‘no contest’ or ‘plea of guilty’ and enter a not guilty plea.
Find a DUI Crimes Attorney Near Me
Defending yourself from DUI crime charges such as felony DUI, misdemeanor DUI, vehicular manslaughter, first time DUI, DUI with priors among others requires strong defense strategies. In addition, you may need to strike a plea bargain such as a wet reckless charge to get reduced penalties if the prosecution has strong evidence against you. Even if all these are successful, the DMV may confiscate your license, and you are required to seek a DMV hearing to contest your license suspension or revocation. All these processes may be challenging and confusing to a defendant, but that is why San Diego DUI Attorney is here. You can contact our Coronado DUI attorney at 619-535-7150 to help you out in any of the charges mentioned above. Call us today!