If your loved one has been charged with DUI, you should hire an experienced Fallbrook Junction DUI attorney immediately. The lawyer will handle the case, answer all questions, and assist you in dealing with any confusion. By securing a lawyer like San Diego DUI Attorney, you are helping yourself reduce the consequences that come with a drunk driving charge. Most defendants who have not dealt with the charge properly have lost their careers, families, and huge sums of money.
What is DUI in California?
If you are arrested with DUI in Fallbrook Junction, you will be charged with either:
- Violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(a) VC (Driving under the influence of alcohol)
- Violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(b) VC (Driving with a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08 percent
To conclude that a defendant was guilty of violating drunk driving laws, the prosecution team should prove the elements of crime below:
- That the defendant drove a car
- That the defendant was under the influence of alcohol when driving the vehicle
To have a clear understanding of the elements of crime, below are definitions of key legal terms:
The driving element of DUI is meant once the police see you operating a car.
However, this is not always the situation. What happens if the car's motor was running, but the defendant had not moved the vehicle? What if the defendant was sleeping in their vehicle? There are several driving under the influence scenarios which present themselves every day in DUI cases. That said, it isn't sufficient for the prosecution team to bear witness that you were drunk. They should present evidence that you drove your car while under the influence.
The court holds that a vehicle's movement is essential to establish driving. The court also goes ahead to hold that the movement should be verified by circumstantial evidence.
Under the Influence
A person is considered to be under the influence when alcohol impairs their physical and mental abilities to a level that they don't have the capability to drive cautiously like a sober driver under similar circumstances.
It is important to note that the way you drove is not decisive of whether you were intoxicated. Instead, it is one of the factors that the court considers when putting everything into consideration.
Major Services Offered by Our Experienced Lawyers
First DUI Defense
A drunk driving offense is considered a first offense if you have not had another DUI within the past ten years. Typically, the offense is charged as a misdemeanor, and it carries penalties such as:
- Three (3) to five (5) years of informal (summary) probation
- Three (3) to nine (9) months in DUI school
- Up to a maximum of $2,000 in penalty assessment and fines
- Withdrawal of your driving privileges for 6 months (But you can obtain a restricted driver's license or an IID restricted license)
- Work release
- A 6-month jail sentence
- Being restricted to travel to Canada
Sometimes your charges may be reduced to a lesser offense like reckless driving. If this takes place, the judge will not withdraw your driving privileges. However, it is worth noting that the California Department of Motor Vehicles could still suspend your license if you have accumulated a lot of points on your driving record.
Second-time DUI Defense
DUI is a priorable offense; consequences increase with each wet reckless or consecutive DUI conviction that took place within the lookback period (ten years). Second-time driving under the influence offense is considered a California misdemeanor. It attracts penalties such as:
- Typically three (3) years of summary probation
- Ninety-six hours to a year in jail
- Fines that are between $390 and $1,000
- Enrolment in an alcohol education program for eighteen to thirty months
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for one year
- Withdrawal of driving privileges for two years (You can convert the license to a restricted driver’s license after twelve (12) months or acquire an IID restricted license immediately after installing the IID).
Notably, when the judge imposes a sentence that has probation, you must abide by the conditions below:
- You shouldn't operate your vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood
- You shouldn't commit another offense
- You shouldn't refuse to take a chemical test if arrested for another DUI offense
Third-time DUI Defense
If arrested for a third-time drunk driving offense, the penalties are imposed depending primarily on the facts surrounding the case. Additionally, the penalties will be more severe than the first and second offense.
A third DUI offense in Fallbrook Junction carries the penalties below:
- Three to five years of summary probation
- Maximum of a year in jail
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for two (2) years
- Revocation of your driver's license for three (3) years
- Penalty assessments and fines that are between $2,500 and $3,000
- Designation as a habitual traffic offender by DMV
- Completion of DUI school
Felony Driving Under the Influence
For a defendant to be charged with a fourth DUI offense, the prosecution team should present evidence that the defendant has three (3) previous drunk driving convictions within ten years. It could include convictions of any following:
- Driving while under the influence (Vehicle Code section 23152(a))
- Operating a car with a BAC of .08% (Vehicle Code 23152(b))
- Wet reckless (Vehicle Code 23103.5)
- Any out of state conviction that qualifies as a conviction of any of the above crimes
- An expunged driving under the influence conviction for any of the above crimes
Fourth DUI is severely punishable. It is a felony, and its sentencing guidelines include:
- A sixteen month or two or four-year sentence in prison
- Habitual traffic offender status for three (3) years
- Revocation of driving privileges for four years
- Fines that range from $390 to $1,000
The consequences of drunk driving in California can be harsh, but first DUI defendants usually don't serve time. However, if the circumstances of the charge are aggravated, the odds are that the defendant will be sentenced while penalties for subsequent offenses will become more severe. Aggravating factors could include:
Driving at a speed that exceeds 30 mph on a freeway or 20 mph on any other road could lead to an additional sixty (60) days to a sentence. The sixty (60) days are imposed as a successive sentence so that it can't overlap the sentence imposed for the underlying DUI charge.
Having a Child in the Car
Having a child below fourteen years in the car at the time of arrest attracts additional forty-eight hours in jail. This sentence is compulsory even when the judge imposes probation on the underlying offense.
DUI Charges for Drivers Below 21 Years
Under California Vehicle Code 23136 VC, it is unlawful for drivers under 21 years of age to operate a car with a BAC of .01% or greater. The zero-tolerance rule applies to both medicines and beverages with alcohol. Additionally, this law applies regardless of whether you are impaired by alcohol or not. In other words, you break the law when you have measurable alcohol in the blood.
Underage DUI is not an offense. The only penalty imposed is a mandatory suspension of your driver's license for a year. Underage drivers who have an account of breaking drunk driving laws risk having their driver's license revoked for two (2) to three (3) years.
DUI Causing Death
Also referred to as Watson murder, DUI causing death is charged when you have a prior driving under the influence conviction, and you kill another person while driving while drunk. The prosecutor will also charge you with Watson murder if you have attended DUI school or have come across Watson admonition in relation to your previous offense.
A Watson admonition is a warning issued to people convicted of drunk driving in Fallbrook Junction. It discusses how dangerous drunk driving is to human life as well as a subsequent conviction could result in murder charges.
It is essential noting that you could be still be charged with DUI with murder even without a Watson admonition as long as the prosecutor can prove implied malice. Malice is considered implied when:
- Your case's facts show that you knew the risk your behavior created
- When your behavior shows disregard for life
DUI murder carries penalties such as:
- Fifteen (15) years to life imprisonment
- A strike on the defendant’s criminal record under Three Strike's law
- A maximum of $10,000 in fines
DUI with Injury (Vehicle Code 23153 VC)
Driving under the influence causing injury can be defined as operating a car while drunk and consequently resulting in bodily harm to another person. To convict a defendant of this offense, the prosecutor should present evidence that:
- The defendant was breaking drunk driving laws
- While breaking the law, the defendant acted negligently while operating a car
- The negligence hurt somebody else
The penalties of violating Vehicle Code 23153 VC vary depending on whether it was your first-time or subsequent conviction and the facts of the case. DUI with injury is considered a wobbler. It is worth noting that a third driving under the influence with injury is a felony.
If convicted with a California misdemeanor, you are likely to face:
- Three years of informal probation
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to one year in jail
- One to three years of driving privileges withdrawal
- Restitution to every injured victim
- Completion of a court-approved drug or alcohol education program
A California felony carries the following penalties:
- Two (2), three (3) or four (4) years in California state prison
- An additional and consecutive 3 to 6 years in prison for each person with serious bodily hurt
- An additional and consecutive 1 to 3 years in prison for each person injured
- Fines that are between $1,015 and $5,000
- HTO status for three years
- A strike on your criminal record under Three Strikes Law
- Completion of DUI school
- Revocation of driver's license for five years (Nevertheless, you can continue driving without restriction if you install an IID for one year)
Commercial Drivers and DUI Charges
Under Vehicle Code 23152(d), it's illegal to operate a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .04% or higher. This limit applies only when you're operating a commercial vehicle. In other words, the standard limits of .08% will apply when you operate a car, small truck, or motorcycle. Additionally, these strict limits apply irrespective of whether the driver is impaired or not.
Penalties for commercial drivers arrested for first DUI offense include:
- Informal probation
- Fines that are between $390 and $1,000
- A maximum of a year sentence in county jail
- Enrollment in a three to thirty-six-month court-approved alcohol education program
Winning your DMV Hearing
A DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding that is held at the California DMV office. The main purpose of this hearing is to determine whether a defendant’s driving privileges will be withdrawn due to drunk driving or not.
Immediately, you’re arrested, the officer will take away your driver's license and give you a Notice of Suspension. The Notice of Suspension will be your temporary license for 30 days.
The notice will also let you know that you are entitled to a DMV hearing to prevent your license from being suspended. You have a duty to request this hearing within 10 days after your arrest. Failing to request the DMV hearing within the 10-day timeframe will lead to automatic suspension of the license after the 30 days.
Additionally, you should schedule a hearing within the 10-day window of your arrest. Failing to do so forfeits the entitlement to do so.
Just like the court proceeding, you can be represented by a qualified attorney. Your attorney should be in a position to request and also schedule the Department of Motor Vehicles hearing for you. They can also appear in court on your behalf provided you are not going to bear witness.
Any competent lawyer will use the following defenses to ensure you win your DMV hearing:
You were Arrested at an Illegal Driving Under the Influence Checkpoint
If you are arrested at a driving under the influence sobriety checkpoint that does not satisfy the legal requirements that arrest is illegal. That means even if you were intoxicated, the unlawful arrest supersedes that fact, and you're supposed to win the DMV hearing.
The Arresting Police Officer didn't Observe you for Fifteen Minutes
One of the requirements of Title 17 of the Code of Regulations is that the police should observe you for 15 minutes before conducting a chemical test. Failure to do so interferes with the result and your lawyer could argue that your BAC was below 0.08% at the time of your arrest.
Failing to Submit to a Chemical Test
Failing to submit to a chemical test is one of the factors that can enhance your sentence. Since the prosecutor does not have your actual BAC at the time of arrest, they will assume that the BAC was very high.
Your lawyer should be in a position to argue that you tried to blow, but the breath samples were not enough. Alternatively, even claim that you were asking questions about the process and the arresting officer misinterpreted the questions as brutality and concluded that you were refusing.
If there are no BAC results and no refusal, the California DMV cannot suspend your driver's license.
DUI Criminal Record Expungement
Any competent Fallbrook Junction DUI attorney should also help you with expungement. An expungement releases a defendant from the negative effects of a conviction. It is available to all defendants whether convicted of a misdemeanor or felony as long as the defendant:
- Has completed probation
- Was not sentenced in California state prison or served time in California state prison but would have been sentenced to jail had the offense been committed after implementation of Realignment under Proposition 47.
One of the benefits of expungement is the fact that it is mandatory for you to disclose to your potential employers about the conviction.
So how do you get an expungement? To be considered for expungement, you should file a petition with the court. The expungement can be made either in person, through a probation officer authorized in writing, or by a lawyer.
Then the court can either:
- Allow you to withdraw your plea of guilty
- Set aside your guilty verdict if you had been convicted after a plea of innocence
In both cases, the judge will dismiss the allegations against you as well as release all penalties resulting from DUI.
Contact an Experienced Fallbrook Junction Lawyer Near Me
If you have been arrested with DUI in Fallbrook Junction, you need to take the charges seriously and start building a strong defense as soon as possible. This is because, prosecutors take DUI charges seriously and if found guilty, you risk facing severe penalties such as heavy fines, a criminal record, and jail time. At San Diego DUI Attorney, our competent team of Fallbrook Junction DUI attorneys are ready to protect your freedom and rights. Call us today at 619-535-7150 to schedule your initial and confidential legal consultation.