California has some of the strictest laws relating to operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The penalties you receive for a DUI offense will depend on a number of factors. For instance, repeat offenders receive harsher penalties than first-time DUI offenders do. The San Diego DUI attorney offers help to people facing DUI charges. If you are in Dehesa, you can seek the advice of a Dehesa DUI attorney to help fight DUI charges.
Overview of DUI
In California, it is an offense for a driver to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The DUI laws apply to all types of motor vehicles, including personal cars, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles. Being under the influence means that the ability of a driver to operate a vehicle is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Impairment may also result from prescribed medication. A driver is also under the influence if his blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than the allowable limit. Under California law, you have impaired if your BAC is above .08%.
In California, you may face charges for DUI under the Motor Vehicle Code section 23152 (a) & (b). In San Diego, individuals pulled over for driving under the influence face the two DUI charges under count (a) and count (b).
Under 23152 (a), an officer can arrest you even when your BAC level is below 0.08%. However, in San Diego, you will face charges even when your BAC level is below .08%. As long as the prosecutor proves to the court that you drove a motor vehicle and were under the influence of alcohol
How can the prosecutor prove in court that you were indeed operating the car? California courts have clear definitions of driving. You are liable if the arresting officer provides actual evidence of the vehicle being in motion. It does not matter how slight the movement and circumstantial evidence that proves that you were operating the car is. Proof that you were operating your vehicle may include the engine being on, keys are in the ignition, you were occupying the driver's seat, and the headlights were illuminated.
Section 23152(b) is the per se count where the law deems you as physically and mentally impaired if your BAC is 0.08% or higher. Similar to count (a), the prosecutor must prove to the court that you drove a motor vehicle, and your BAC was 0.08% or higher at the time of driving. The prosecutor uses a breath or blood test to prove your BAC level. The court assumes that the officer conducted your BAC test before the lapse of three hours of driving.
A law enforcement officer may make a vehicle stop and then suspect that you are drunk. If the officer suspects intoxication, he/she will conduct some field sobriety tests to prove intoxication. The officer may also request you to undergo a chemical test to test whether you are intoxicated. During the field sobriety test, the law enforcement officer may require you to perform a number of tests. The tests aim at assessing any form of impairment and assessing your physical and your cognitive abilities. For instance, the officer may request you to walk along a straight line, heel to toe. The officer may require you to stand on one foot or perform the horizontal gaze nystagmus.
An officer may also perform a breath or chemical test. Breath tests are the most common, as they are less invasive and still yield reliable results. The breath test makes use of a Breathalyzer to measure the blood alcohol content of a driver. Other chemical tests include blood tests and urine tests. A blood test comes in if a driver is too intoxicated to blow air into the breathalyzer. A blood test may also come in if a driver refuses to undergo a breath test. If a law enforcement officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of other drugs other than alcohol, he may recommend a chemical test. It is hard to detect drugs from the breath of a driver; blood tests are useful in detecting intoxication with drugs.
Can You Refuse to Take a Drug Test?
In the state of California, drivers are subject to the implied consent law. According to the implied consent law, when you acquire a driver's license in California, you agree to undergo any form of drug test if a law enforcement officer requires you to do so. The law requires you to submit to some types of chemical tests, including breath and blood tests. You should also submit to a urine test if the officer requires it.
By assuming the privilege to drive your vehicle on the California State's roads and highways, you have effectively given your consent DUI testing. You only undertake a DUI test if the police reasonably believe that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You may face some implied law penalties if you fail to submit to a DUI test. One penalty is the mandatory suspension of your driver's license normally for six months or up to one year. In most cases, the penalties for test refusal tend to be more severe than the penalties for test failure. Therefore, it is wiser to submit to a DUI test as you may face lesser penalties even if the test proves that you are intoxicated.
Per Se DUI
According to Per Se DUI laws, you are intoxicated as long as your blood alcohol concentration is above the allowable limit. As long as your BAC is above the limit, no other proof of intoxication will be necessary. In the State of California, you are under the influence as long as your BAC is above .08%. In the eyes of the law, any driver with a higher BAC than the allowable limit is intoxicated, and no other evidence is necessary to prove intoxication.
In some instances, you may face charges even when your BAC is below .08%. For example, if you are below 21 years of age, you are subject to zero-tolerance laws. Therefore, you are under the influence as long as your BAC is above .01%. If you are a commercial vehicle driver, you are intoxicated as long as your BAC is higher than .04%.
Always bear in mind that an officer can still arrest you for DUI even without the test results indicating that you are intoxicated. If the officer testifies that he observes signs of intoxication, the court can maintain that you were indeed intoxicated. Some signs of intoxication may include lack of balance, lack of concentration, red or watery eyes, and careless driving. With the help of a Dehesa DUI attorney, you can always challenge the evidence the officer brings against you in court.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction
A DUI offense attracts a wide range of penalties. The penalties may include fines, probation, alcohol education program, community service, and installation of an ignition interlock device, among others. In most cases, first time DUI convictions attract lesser penalties than repeat DUI convictions.
The severity of the consequences you face after committing a DUI offense will also depend on some additional factors: The type of vehicle you were operating at the time of arrest will determine the DUI charges you face. You are likely to face harsher consequences if you were operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest. You may also face some severe penalties if you had a minor below 14 years as a passenger at the time of the arrest.
If you committed the DUI offense alongside another traffic rule violation like reckless driving, you would face higher charges. If the DUI offense involved a car accident and some property was damaged, you are likely to face higher charges. You will also face some higher charges if your DUI offense involved an accident and another person was injured or killed. If you commit a DUI offense and you are below the legal drinking age (21), you will face aggravated charges. In California, it is an offense for persons below the age of 21 years to possess alcohol leave alone consuming it.
Loss of Driving Privileges
An arrest and a conviction for DUI may also negatively affect your driving privileges in California. The Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) has the right to suspend your driver's license if you operate your vehicle while impaired. The DMV may instantly suspend your driver's license if you refuse to undertake a DUI test. In some instances, a DUI offense may lead to the confiscation of your vehicle. You may have to incur some high administrative costs before you get your car to the road again. The loss of your driving privileges may occur before your DUI conviction. If you are in such a situation, your Dehesa DUI attorney can help you seek a temporary license. Your attorney may also help you to request an administrative hearing. During the hearing, you may argue against your license suspension. You may also argue for the restoration of your driving privileges.
The California DMV process
If you face an arrest because of DUI, you must contact the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) within ten days of your arrest to demand a hearing. Failure to do this may lead to the loss of your legal right to a trial. The DMV may automatically suspend your license after 30 days.
Upon your arrest for driving under the influence in San Diego, the arresting officer will present you with a document containing vital information about the consequences of the DUI offense. The document also informs you of your right to challenge the loss of your license.
Going through the process, particularly for the first time, DUI can be confusing and distressing, which can lead the offender to plead guilty or no contest leading to immense repercussions. It is essential to consult a DUI attorney to enlighten you on various issues based on the circumstances of your case. Your attorney will help you with legal matters including gathering evidence, representing you as legal advocates, and negotiating on your behalf
Can You Challenge the Results of a BAC Test?
Yes. With the help of your Dehesa DUI attorney, you can challenge the results of a DUI test. Most officers make use of Breathalyzers to conduct DUI tests. Many costs accept Breathalyzers as the right tools for gathering evidence of intoxication. However, you can always challenge the results of Breathalyzer tests. With the help of your attorney, you can challenge the results of a DUI test if a qualified person did not conduct the test. The law requires only a qualified person to administer DUI tests.
You may also challenge BAC results if you suspect that the Breathalyzer equipment used to conduct the test was faulty. The law requires Breathalyzer machines to undergo routine maintenance. It is also a requirement of the law for the machines to have the proper calibrations. Your DUI attorney may examine the equipment used to measure your levels of intoxication. If the attorney identifies any lapse that may have led to incorrect results, you can challenge the results in court.
You may also argue that the results of BAC were not due to intoxication but due to some other factors. For instance, you may argue that you were on a high protein diet, thus the high levels of BAC. You may also assert that you use products that have alcohol content like mouthwash. These factors may lead to false BAC results making you face charges.
The DUI Court Procedure
California courts receive very high numbers of DUI cases every year. Most courts have set apart a section with separate court procedures. The separate court procedures make it easy to dispense DUI cases faster. It is important to understand the DUI court procedure so that you can be sure of what to expect in case you commit a DUI offense. The procedures include:
After stopping your car and conducting some field sobriety tests, the officer arrests you if it is evident that you are intoxicated. An arrest occurs when the police take you into custody, and you are no longer free to leave. Your arrest can be completed immediately; a police officer tells you that you are under arrest. It is advisable to submit to an arrest without prompting the police to use any form of physical force. You may contact your Dehesa DUI attorney before submitting to the police.
Booking and Bail
During booking, the police will take your personal information, including your name, your date of birth, and other physical characteristics. The police will also record information about your alleged DUI crime. The police will conduct a search of your criminal record. The police may confiscate your personal items like purse or vehicle keys. The police will return the items to you after your release. The police may also search for you and take your photo and fingerprints. Eventually, the police will place you in a local jail or in a holding cell.
You may get out through a cash bail. This process entails paying some money and committing yourself to show up for all future court dates.
An arraignment is the first step of court-based proceedings. In most cases, the arraignment will mark the first, and the last time you will be in court. This happens if you choose to plead guilty. You may plead guilty if the evidence against you is strong and if there is a leeway for a plea bargain. You have a right to a speedy arraignment. Therefore, the arraignment process takes place a few days after your arrest.
A DUI preliminary hearing takes place if you plead not guilty during the arraignment process. Often, preliminary hearing goes by the name trial before the trial. At this stage, the judge will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. The judge will also weigh the evidence against you and decide whether it is enough to send you to trial. During this hearing, the judge listens to the arguments of the defendant and the prosecutor before making a decision.
During a DUI trial, the jury will examine the evidence against you and decide whether you committed the crime or not. This is the opportunity for the prosecutor to present his case against you and prove that you are guilty. Your Dehesa DUI attorney will face the prosecutor on your behalf. It is important to note that most DUI cases resolve before reaching the trial process.
The appeal process entails challenging the ruling of your DUI case. If you feel that you did not get a fair judgment, you may seek a further hearing at the court of appeal. This may happen if you feel that your conviction is wrong. You may also appeal if you feel that the other court did not consider your evidence.
Contact a Dehesa DUI Attorney Near Me
If you are facing a DUI case, you should seek legal representation immediately. At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we can walk with you to the end. Contact us at 619-535-7150 and speak to one of our attorneys today. We will be glad to fight your DUI charges.