DUI offense is a severe crime laden with legal and financial implications as any other crime. Without legal knowledge maneuvering through the case can be overwhelming, especially when there is some bit of evidence for the prosecution to kick start your trial. We at the San Diego DUI Attorney are experienced in handling all types of DUI cases. We will ensure you have the best outcome in your case.
What is Driving Under the Influence?
Driving under the influence (DUI) is the traffic offense of operating any motorized vehicle after drinking alcohol. A motor vehicle includes snowmobile, car, jet skis, and truck and golf cart. Operating a vehicle while the blood alcohol content (BAC) has reached the threshold of 0.08 percent is what legally constitutes driving under the influence. Even though many drivers will not have any sign of intoxication, drinking a small amount of alcohol and driving is equally harmful. Small amounts of alcohol, even at 0.02 BAC, the multitasking judgment and visual ability are greatly affected. Strict legal punishment can be taken against such a driver.
Driving under the influence offense is not just limited to alcohol use alone. It also applies to when under the influence of medically prescribed drugs, over the counter medicines, and other illicit drugs.
The traffic officer only needs to observe the driver and perceive they are drunk. The officer stops them to establish the possibility of intoxication beyond the legally acceptable level. Through urine analysis, breath samples, or blood test, the officer confirms the level of BAC. The breathalyzer is the device used for the analysis of breath samples to determine the BAC level. If the BAC level is 0.08 percent and above, the driver stands fewer chances of escaping the legal consequences.
It is worth noting that one can still face a legal consequence for driving while drunk if the BAC is beyond the tolerable limits, even if they pass all field sobriety tests (FST). In other states, individuals with questionable driving behaviors can also be charged if their BAC is at legally acceptable levels.
Dangers of DUI
Driving requires concentration, prompt reactions to situations, and coordinated judgment. Alcohol impairs these abilities in a driver besides reducing the vision hence affecting how you judge the other vehicles in the road. At 0.08 percent, BAC the self-control and short-term memory are obliterated. The driver cannot control the speed, and reasoning is debilitated.
How is the DUI Offense Dealt With?
After you have been arrested for DUI, you will be arraigned in court to respond to the charges officially. There are three options when pleading to the charge:
- Not guilty
- No contest
Here you can plead not guilty and can change later to guilty or no contest. There are chances of being released from remand once you take a plea. The two circumstances are:
Released on Bail
The court determines the amount of bail that you should pay to be free. After this amount is paid, one walks out to freedom with their cars if the bail covers the vehicle too.
Released on Own Recognizance (OR)
Released on own recognizance applies to the defendants accused of a misdemeanor, especially the first time DUI offenders. They do not have to pay bail. They are released on their own recognizance (OR) by signing a written promise of appearing to court as required by the court. The judges have solely the mandate of determining whether the defendant is released on bail or own recognizance. The judge maintains the conditions of the bail such as:
- Shunning the use of alcohol and other drugs
- Reporting to a probation officer
- Appearing to the court on pain of being arrested upon absconding
The factors favoring the release on OR are:
- The defendants work commitment
- The defendant has dwelt in the community and therefore keep up with court appearances
- The defendant supports the family members
- The defendant had a past good record legally
At this stage of taking a plea, an attorney is not necessary. You are entitled to a jury trial unless you wave the right. It is possible to demand it later also. After you are free, you need to approach an experienced attorney to help you maneuver through the case. A Eucalyptus Hills DUI attorney is the best option for you in this case. We will guide you on evaluating the options available for your situation. The options include:
- Pleading guilty as the charge sheet content read
- Requesting for a trial before a judge
- Pleading a bargain down to have the charges reduced
- Requesting for a jury trial in your charge
Defending you on the DUI charge will depend on the weight of evidence held by the prosecution. The prosecution must prove the defendant:
- Drove and a vehicle at the time of the arrest
- Was under the influence of drugs that impaired him or the level of drugs was beyond the legitimate limit in his body
If the evidence has it that the BAC was very high, for instance, 0.12 percent, the best alternative is to negotiate a plea since it is difficult for you to be defended and win the case. BAC levels closer to 0.08 can be used by your defense in court. The argument will be that the levels were only higher due to the marginal error of the testing procedure.
Taking a Plea Bargain
It is the process where the accused defense and the prosecutor reach a compromise. The accused takes a guilty or no contest plea for an exchange of reduction in a jail term, charges, or fines. The accused defense gets better bargaining if the prosecution evidence has loopholes. If the proof of the guilt like injuries and high BAC is compelling, then the defendant’s bargaining capability weakens.
Demanding for a Jury Trial
One can require a jury to preside over the trial if they decide to fight the charges brought against them. Having a jury to determine your case would be of great relief since their nearly unanimous agreement on your case may favor you than a judge would do unless your defense is unusual.
Possible Defenses Against the Charge of DUI
When you approach a Eucalyptus Hills DUI attorney, we will defend you when you decide to fight the charge in the following ways:
Defenses Related to Driving
The lawyer will analyze the evidence in the charge sheet and convince the prosecution that the vehicle you were in was not in motion. This will depend on the state law in question since some states convict an offender even if the car was not in motion, but the intoxicated driver was in full control of the vehicle.
Defenses Related to The Process of Arrest
In the instances where the police did not follow the law while arresting or stopping you, the defense uses the loophole to defend you. There ought to be a probable cause for stopping and arresting you. A Eucalyptus Hills DUI attorney will argue in agreement with the court that all evidence against you, in the event of illegitimate stopping, is inadmissible. The police can obtain the probable cause by observing you or from the breath results. If the BAC is the challenging of the probable cause can be difficult.
The police are required to read you Miranda warnings to the suspects in custody. If the police do not provide Miranda warning to the suspect, then the suspect makes an incriminating statement, then it cannot be held against him in court.
Challenging the Officer’s Evidence Against Your Behavior
The lawyer will challenge the officer’s observation of the client. He challenges the following:
- That you performed poorly in the field sobriety test
- That you displayed a bizarre behavior
- That your eyes had blood shots
- That you had slurred speech
- That you had had a smell of alcohol
The lawyer challenges the officer’s observation by giving the testimony witnesses who saw the scene differently. This means you will have provided a Eucalyptus Hills DUI attorney with testimonies of those who witnessed you being stopped and arrested before the trial. The lawyer would also argue that fatigue led to poor performance in the FST and that allergies and irritants are responsible for your bloodshot eyes.
If the defense is not viable enough or the weight of evidence from the prosecution side cannot be challenged, the penalties as stipulated by the state law apply to the offender.
DUI Punishment and Penalties
As with all criminal cases, the accused is always innocent until proven guilty. Guilt is established after the jury trial or after the accused DUI offender pleads guilty. Drivers arrested for DUI for the first time are charged with a misdemeanor. However, if a driver causes injuries or kills another while driving under the influence is charged with a felony. One can still be charged with a felony in some states if their BAC is too high. The overall level BAC for being accused of a felony for the first-time arrest over DUI is 0.15 percent or higher. Higher-level charges can be leveled against a driver who is arrested for DUI offense while their driving privileges are under restriction or suspension. Individuals arrested for DUI offenses can attract a felony charge if they have been earlier charged over a DUI several times.
. The penalty imposed on the guilty driver depends on:
- The state law regarding DUI offenses
- The aggravating situations such as having a bottle of consumed alcohol
- The demeanor of the offender towards the arresting police
The penalties for DUI after conviction are:
Courts impose fines ranging from $500 to $2,000 for DUI offenses. The inability to pay this calls for stipulated jail term.
A maximum of a six-month jail term is issued as a penalty for all first-time DUI offenders. This period can also be several days, depending on the jury’s decisions. The jail term increases when the first time offenders repeat DUI related offenses. Certain circumstances such as high BAC levels of typically 0.15 percent and above call for an increased period of jail term. Felonies, when the DUI offender kills or injures someone, or it is their subsequent DUI offense, attracts jail sentences of several years.
Alternative Forms of Punishment
These alternative forms of punishment are likely available to first-time offenders instead of paying fines and serving the jail terms. They may also be combined with other penalties. In some states, minors convicted of DUI are mandated to compulsory community service. In some states, minors face a separate charge for drinking before the age of 21 years. Their licenses are also suspended.
Consequences of DUI Charges
The following are some of the consequences once you are faced with DUI charges:
Suspension of Driving Licenses
Consequences apply for being arrested for the DUI offense. Drivers who refuse to undergo the BAC test usually have their driving licenses suspended for typically a year, although this period may vary depending on the states. Under the administrative license suspension laws, any BAC exceeding the statutory limit warrants the suspension of the driving license. Some states allow the arresting officer to issue temporary driving licenses until the time of trial. The temporary license, also called the hardship license, is granted for maintaining a primary livelihood. Using those restricted licenses, the driver can drive to work or school.
A restricted license comes with the Ignition Interlock Devices (IID). IID are breathalyzers attached to the car ignition system that prevents the car from starting unless an alcohol-free breath is blown through the tube. After the vehicle is started, IID requires rolling tests often. When IID detects alcohol, the car does not shut down, but the message is relayed to the relevant authorities. First-time offenders must complete twelve months while under restricted license or six months IID after the reinstatement of license.
The nature of the offense determines whether the court will suspend, restrict, or revoke the driving license once the driver is convicted with the DUI offense. The judge handling the cases of first-time offenders usually determines the period for suspension of their licenses, but the period is mostly 90 days.
Expenses are Incurred in the Legal Proceedings
DUI related offenses are expensive. One has to pay towing charges since they cannot be allowed to drive their cars to the station while still under arrest. Other fees apply, such as court bond to be released as mentioned above and payment of a bond to have their car released. Further, the arrested driver has to pay their chosen attorney a down payment amount before accepting to defend them in the court.
Loss of Personal Freedom
Many of the drivers convicted of driving under the influence are placed on probation. The drivers have to appear to the relevant authorities during this period for formal evaluation that they have reformed enough to warrant the return of their licenses. The probations curtail individuals from using any drug or being within the places or occasions where alcohol is served. These drivers also have to seek permission from authorities to leave their state or city of residence. Further, first time DUI offenders are put in an alcohol education program where their attendance is monitored.
Loss of Time and Money in Rehabilitation Programs
Before going for a trial, the DUI offenders must be evaluated by the mental health provider. These evaluation results determine the sentence given to the offender by the court. Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, the court may impose treatment on the convicted individuals for substance abuse during their probation. The treatment may take the form of a residential rehabilitation program as part of their pre-trial probation. Time and money are wasted due to drunk driving.
Increased Insurance Premiums
The insurance companies are also retrospective in evaluating the DUI offense history of a potential client to typically 5-7 years. Most insurance companies drop drivers once they learn they have committed a DUI offense. The companies who accept to cover them charge them higher premiums rates for limited coverages since the records have proven them susceptible to accidents.
The DUI Offense Record Remains For Future Reference
The convicted person may be diligent enough to satisfy the conditions imposed by the sentence and get back the driving licenses, but their DUI offenses remain in the record. The offenders must report these offenses in situations like job applications. Although the offense may stop being called into question in your routine endeavors, it remains in records. Serious DUI offenses like injuring or killing someone and significant damage to properties resurface in the lifetime of the offenders.
Find a Eucalyptus Hills DUI Attorney Near Me
You stand a chance of being represented in your case by the most seasoned lawyer who understands your situation and the corresponding laws of the state. We will defend you till you are acquitted of the charges or have the fines or jail term reduced. For any inquiries and consultation regarding your case, call the San Diego DUI Attorney at 619-535-7150.