Did you know driving under the influence can land you in jail or taint your criminal record for life? It is against the law of any state to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Operating a vehicle when impaired can have serious consequences for both you and the other road users. Moreover, if you are arrested, you will have a hard time pleading for a pass with the arresting officer because of the dangers posed by DUI.
At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we understand that a DUI charge can interfere with your flow of life. When you are facing a serious charge like DUI in Doghouse Junction, you need an experienced Doghouse Junction DUI attorney to fight for your rights. An attorney will represent you and help normalize your life from the DUI charge. Our attorneys will examine your case and challenge the government’s allegations to have your charges dropped or reduced.
DUI According to the State Law
California law defines DUI as driving under the influence. It means operating a vehicle when impaired by alcohol or related drugs. In Doghouse Junction, driving under the influence is for the first time is charged as a misdemeanor.
The officer will stop you if he believes you were driving under the influence. The reason for stopping you will be based on your vehicle speed, or if you were swerving unnecessarily, this is called reasonable suspicion. A traffic police officer will not pull you over for no justified reason.
When you are pulled over, the traffic police may ask you to perform a sobriety test based on your appearance and behavior. The officer will then ask you general questions like your name. He/she may also ask you about where you are going, what you were doing, where you are coming from etc. you should decline to answer these questions without your Doghouse Junction DUI attorney present. Unless you are answering general questions like your name, you should insist on having your attorney.
If you were asked to perform a sobriety test and failed to pass, the officer will arrest you based on driving under the influence. It is important to remember not to resist the arrest because it will make things worse for your charge. Just comply with the officer and ask for your attorney's presence to answer any questions.
During the arrest, the officer will read your Miranda rights for you. These are:
- The right not to speak.
- Whatever you say to the officers can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have a right to an attorney.
- If you can't afford one, the government will provide one for you.
The Miranda rights are based on the fifth amendment right and are meant to protect an accused against self-incrimination. So whatever is said before your rights were read to you cannot hold in court.
The officer will impound your vehicle, and he/she will take you to the police station for the booking process. At the station, the booking officer will record your personal information and record your DUI crime. The next step will be taking your mugshot, fingerprints, and then finally, the officer will perform a full body search on you.
Common Defenses in a DUI Charge
The penalties of a DUI charge can be severe if you are found guilty. You should, therefore, understand all the available defenses if you have been charged with a DUI. A good defense lawyer will help fight the charges and convince the prosecutor to be lenient with you or drop the charges against you.
“No Driving” Defense
In this defense, to be convicted of a DUI, the prosecutor has to prove you were driving. However, your Doghouse Junction DUI Attorney will likely advise you not to plead guilty of driving. If for example, accidents occurred, without any witnesses to prove you were the driver, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove that you were driving.
An arresting officer needs a reasonable suspicion before arresting you for drunk driving. If the police stop you without reasonable doubt, your defense attorney will likely argue that all the collected evidence is inadmissible. However, it is essential to keep in mind that probable cause does not apply to specific locations like roadblocks and DUI checkpoints.
An officer's observation gives rise to a probable cause in a DUI charge. The officer can give a testimony in court that you failed at your sobriety test and you reeked of alcohol when he/pulled over. The statement will be bad for your case because the judge will likely allow the testimony as a base for probable cause.
It is an essential requirement for an arresting officer to read the suspect his/her Miranda rights. If the arresting officer failed to read your Miranda rights, then your Doghouse Junction attorney can argue that whatever incriminating statements you had given were inadmissible.
Your defense lawyer can introduce a witness who saw the arresting process. Even though in many DUI cases, witnesses are rarely present, a testimony from a witness can serve as a great defense.
Other Possible Explanations
Some medical conditions, such as allergies, can cause someone to have bloodshot eyes. A disability can also be an explanation. Giving your possible reasons will help a lot with your case.
Necessary Warnings and Information
Failure to take a chemical test can result in the suspension of your license. During an arrest, if the officer fails to warn you of the consequences of not taking a chemical test, the test results cannot be used in a court.
If the arresting officer failed to comply with the state's requirements when administering the chemical tests, your defense attorney could challenge the use of the test results in a court
Accuracy of the Test Results
A range of issues might interfere with the breathalyzer, such as certain foods and medications. Some breathalyzer can register some types of food as alcohol elements. Similarly taking certain drugs can give a false reading.
What the Prosecutor Has to Prove in a DUI Charge
Just like the other criminal charges, the prosecutor's primary work is to prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt
To show that the defendant is guilty of DUI, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was driving.
Under the Influence
The other element that the prosecutor has to prove in a DUI charge is "under the influence." The prosecutor has to show that the driver was impaired at the time of driving. Under vehicle code section 23152(a), the prosecutor will have to prove that at the time of driving, the driving was impaired. Moreover, in section 23152(b), the prosecutor must prove that the blood alcohol concentration was 0.08% or higher.
For a blood alcohol test to be used in court as evidence, it must have been taken within three hours from the time of the arrest. If the police failed to note the exact time of arrest, the prosecutor might not be able to prove the elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, the charges will be dropped.
Penalties for DUI
In California, penalties for DUI vary depending on two things: a previous DUI charge or if someone got injured as a result of driving under the influence. So a simple DUI can be charged as a felony if a person got injured in the process or if you have prior convictions of DUIs.
The penalties for DUI are harsh, but a DUI felony charge is harsher.
Penalties for a First Time DUI Charge
- A first time DUI charge in California carries a fine of between $390-$1000 plus penalty assessments which will probably increase the fine
- A person can also get a jail term of up to six months
- A driver's license can also be suspended for six months - The department of motor vehicles(DMV) can also impose a four-month suspension, and it can be increased to 1 year if the driver refused to take a Blood and Alcohol (BAC)test
- A first time DUI charge in California gets a probation period of 3 years, and as a condition of probation, the defendant attends a compulsory DUI school
- An ignition interlock device will also be installed in the defendant's vehicle for six months
Penalties for a Second DUI Charge
- A second time DUI charge carries fines of between $390 to $ 1000, but with penalties, the amount can go up to $4000
- A jail term for a second DUI is a maximum of one year
- A two-year revocation of license and a possible one year DMV suspension
- Three-Year probation with 18 to 30 months compulsory attendance of DUI school
- A vehicle ignition interlock device of one year
Penalties for a Third DUI Charge
- The fines and penalties fees for a third DUI charge are between $390-$1000, but the penalty fees can go up to $18,000
- A jail term of one year or 16 months in a state prison
- License revocation of three years with a possible DMV suspension of one year
- 5-year probation with a 30 months’ compulsory attendance of DUI school
- A two-year mandatory installation of a vehicle ignition device
Penalties for a Fourth DUI Charge
- For a fourth and subsequent DUI charges, the penalties will be for a felony charge. And the record will be permanent
- Fines range between $390-$5000 and penalty assessments of up to $18000
- In state prison, a defendant can get a jail term of between 16 months and three years
- A possible license suspension of four years or a permanent suspension
- Probation of between three to five years with a compulsory 30 months of DUI school
Penalties for DUI charge that results in Injuries or Fatalities
A DUI charge that results in bodily injuries will get:
- A fine of between$390 to $5000 and penalty assessments of up to $18000
- A jail term of between 16 months to three years in state prison
- Probation of three to five years with a 30-month compulsory attendance of DUI school
- A permanent record of the felony charge
- A vehicle interlock device of three years
A DUI that causes death will be charged as:
- Under penal code 191.5b, negligent vehicular manslaughter due to intoxication
- Under California penal code 187, second degree murder
- California penal code189 as Second-degree murder
- Under California PC191.5a as gross vehicular manslaughter
The penalties for these charges can go up to 25 years in state prison if found guilty.
A Field Sobriety Test
A field sobriety test is optional in California. Its primary purpose is to determine if there is probable cause for the officer to make an arrest.
Standard sobriety involves three tests administered at a traffic stop to determine the driver’s impairment. The three tests are as follows
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
In this test, the traffic police officer observes the eyes of a driver as he moves an object; the driver will follow the purpose horizontally with the eyes. If the suspect's eyes cannot support the object smoothly, the officer will conclude that the driver is impaired.
Walk and Turn Test
In this test, the officer will ask the suspected driver to walk on a straight line. Touching heel to toe for nine steps. If the suspect cannot keep the following: balance as he walks, steps of the line, use arms to balance, does not touch heel to toe or doesn't make a proper turn. It will be an indication that the BAC level is 0.08% or more.
One Leg Stand Test
In this test, the officer will instruct the suspected driver to stand on one foot with the other feet at six inches above the ground. The driver will then be told to count as the officer observes the following indicators for 30secs: not keeping balance, putting the foot down, etc. If the driver fails, it will mean the BAC levels are 0.08% or more.
Driver’s License Suspension and DMV Hearing
If you have been found guilty of a DUI charge, the department of motor vehicles(DMV) will suspend your license for some time. However, you should not worry because your Doghouse Junction DUI Attorney will contest the suspension of your license.
A DMV hearing is requested ten days from the day of arrest to avoid a driving license suspension. Your attorney will represent you at the trial which is done at the DMV field office before a DMV officer. If your hearing is successful, your driving privileges will be restored. However, if you fail, you can request a restricted driver's license, which only allows you to drive from work to home or school to home.
DUI Court Process
A DUI court process begins with an arraignment. The arraignment gives you a chance to either plead guilty, plead "not guilty.” If you plead guilty, the court will sentence you depending on the charges. And the case will be closed. If you plead not guilty, the case will proceed to trial where your Doghouse Junction DUI Attorney will challenge the prosecutor's evidence.
In a preliminary hearing, the judge will take a look at the prosecutor's evidence to decide whether there is enough to continue to trial.
A trial gives the prosecutor a platform to argue its case and provide evidence against the defendant. A trial also provides the defendant with a chance to refute the evidence provided by the prosecutor. Jurors can also decide if there is enough evidence to find the defendant guilty of the charges.
If the defendant loses, the judge will issue a sentence that can be a fine, a jail term, probation, license revocation, or a combination of all of them.
Sentence Enhancement in a DUI charge
In California, enhancement laws are meant to add more penalties to a DUI charge. Some situations more create risks and dangers to DUI. These situations are:
- Prior convictions
- Driving with a minor in the vehicle
- Too much blood consumption
- Causing bodily injury or damaging property
- Fighting a chemical test request after being arrested for DUI
Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I answer a "Have you been drinking question" when an officer stops me?
A person is supposed to ask for an attorney before answering any questions. If you admit that you were drinking, it could make things worse for your case.
- Should I agree to a field sobriety test?
Refusing a field sobriety test does not have any penalties, unlike a chemical test. A sobriety test is only used by an officer to confirm his suspicions about DUI.
- What is the penalty for drunk driving?
DUI is a serious offense with hefty penalties. If found guilty of driving under the influence, a person will face a substantial penalty. The punishments are: fines, jail, probation, license suspension, or possibly get a combination of all the penalties.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
A DUI is an offense with serious penalties in the state of California. If found guilty, the charge will taint your record and make it harder for you to have a normal life. At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we understand that you want a simple life and a DUI charge should not restrict that. So, if you have been charged for DUI, our Doghouse Junction Attorney will examine the specifics of your case to know how well to represent you.
If you reside in Doghouse Junction, you can call us at 619-535-7150, if you have been arrested for a DUI.