DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charges are punishable with jail time and hefty fines. These penalties reflect in your permanent record. As such, you may miss education or employment opportunities. Moreover, you risk incurring higher premium charges from your insurance provider or have limited access to credit facilities. All these are the negative implications of a DUI charge. It is our mission to help Fernbrook residents to fight DUI charges.
San Diego DUI Attorney’s team prides itself in defending those facing DUI cases inclusive of DUID, DUI hit and run, aggravated DUI, DUI causing injury, and DUI homicide charges. We also take on DMV related matters such as license suspensions and/or revocations. This guide offers details of our practice areas.
DUI Cases Our Team Handles
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs can result in property damage, injury, or death of another. California statutes, as you will see, are in place to charge DUI offenses. DUI penalties in California are severe and aimed at preventing more DUI cases. These cases are handled from two fronts:
- A criminal trial to punish you for the offense
- A DMV hearing whose mandate is to suspend or revoke your driving privileges
Here is a look at some DUI charges you may face.
Criminal DUI Charges Penalized through a Court Trial
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
California’s Code 23512 (f) VC criminalizes driving while under the influence of drugs. Prosecutors will be especially interested in drugs that impair your nervous system, mental abilities, or physical capabilities. With such a broad scope, you risk violating the law if you so much as use prohibited drugs as well as OTC (Over the Counter) and prescription medication.
DUID crimes are prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. The circumstances in your case influence the choice by the prosecution to pursue misdemeanor or felony penalties. If there were no car crashes, injuries or property damage, prosecutors might charge you for a misdemeanor. You will be required to serve summary probation for a period of 3 to five years and a fine of any amount between $390 to $1,800. Additionally, your driving license will be suspended for at least six months. You may also be required to attend the California DUI school for three months. First-time DUID offenses are treated as misdemeanor offenses. Subsequent DUID’s are classified as felony offenses to which, you will serve 16 months to 4 years in prison. A fine of $1,000 to $5,000 will be imposed over and above a one-year driver's license suspension. Formal probation is available as an alternative to the jail sentence. A Fernbrook DUI attorney will help you get minimum sentencing for the offense.
Prosecutors also analyze other issues when bringing up felony charges against you. These issues are referred to as aggravating factors. Any prior conviction, injury of another or property damage are part of the aggravating factors. These too inform the sentencing the judge will impose.
Honors are upon the prosecutors to prove your culpability in the DUID matter. They will have to demonstrate that:
- You were behind the wheel at the time of the crash or arrest
- You were intoxicated - That is, the drugs or alcohol was in your body while you were behind the wheel
- The drugs compromised your driving
Impairment is at the heart of DUID cases. That is why you may be charged with a DUID offense with as little as 0.01 percent alcohol in your body. Prosecutors and experts alike view the 0.01 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) as enough to compromise your driving. If the prosecutors have witnesses who can attest to your impaired driving, you will be prosecuted for the offense.
DUI Hit and Run
DUI hit and run matters are prosecuted from two fronts; DUI hit and run that caused bodily injury, and DUI hit and run that led to property damage. DUI matters that caused the injury of another are prosecuted under Vehicle Code 20001 while those that resulted in property damage are prosecuted under Code 20002 VC.
It is in your best interest to never leave the scene of a car crash. The only situation that you can legally leave an accident scene is if you are seeking medical treatment. If you go, you may be held liable for the property damage or injury of another even if the at-fault driver was the victim. The best approach will be to wait for the authorities at the scene, even though you were not at fault. Be sure to give them a truthful account of the events leading to the accident.
Prosecutors can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony DUI hit and run charge. You will be liable for a misdemeanor charge if:
- The property was damaged as a result of the car accident
- You fled the scene without offering details about your identity
- You were aware of the damage caused at the time you fled the scene
If the prosecution proves the above, you are liable for punishment under Code 20002 VC. You will be required to part with $1,000 in fines and/or a six-month jail term. You could alternatively serve three years of summary probation as opposed to spending time in jail. Additionally, the charge imposes a two-point penalty in your driving records.
The victims in the matter will also be compensated for the damaged property. You will be required to pay restitution fees to a sum pegged on the value of the property damaged. If there were injuries to another, prosecutors would seek felony charges against you. You will be penalized according to the provisions of Code 20001 VC. Prosecutors will have to prove that:
- You caused harm to another through the car accident
- You were aware of the injury when you left the scene of the crash
- You intentionally left the scene without offering any identification details
Felony prosecutions are punishable by three years in prison, a fine totaling to $1,000 or any other amount below $10,000. If the injury was severe, you risk serving four years in jail.
Aggravated DUI charges are DUI violations with aggravating circumstances. Specific aspects in your case shift the matter from a regular DUI to an aggravated DUI case. The prosecution will have to prove that you had a Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) of 0.08 percent, after which they should introduce any of the following issues to make their case in the aggravated DUI matter.
- You were driving at 25 to 30mph over the speed limit
- You were driving on a suspended, canceled or revoked license
- You had a minor in your company at the time of the DUI arrest. Any individual of 14 years of age and below is a minor in DUI matters
- Your driving caused an accident that resulted in an injury of another or property damage
- You were on probation at the time you were being arrested for a DUI
- You refused to take a breath or blood test
- You fled the accident scene
- Your BAC was 0.2 percent or above
- You have prior convictions
- You were under 21 years of age at the time of apprehension
You are subject to the penalties of a simple DUI offense. However, if you commit any of the above issues, your sentencing will be harsher.
DUI Causing Injury
DUI causing injury is a crime punishable under Code 23153 VC. The facts of your case establish whether the offense will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Misdemeanors attract a fine to the tune of $350 but no more than $5,000. The judge will also require that you pay restitution fees. Summary probation for a period between three and five years can be imposed on you over and above a license suspension for a period of three to five years. It is also likely that a judge may prefer a prison term that may range from five days to one year.
Felony charges, on the other hand, are punishable by stiffer penalties. The sentencing begins with a license suspension of a time not exceeding five years, a fine that ranges from $1,015 to no more than $5,000, and a strike in your records as per the California Three-Strike Law. A prison sentence will be imposed if the injured party in a car accident suffered bodily injury. The penalty may be either a two, three, or a four-year prison term. If the harm to the victim was severe, you are looking at a jail term of three to six years.
In instances where the car crash caused injury to several people, you will receive an extra year on your prison sentence for each victim in the case.
The fatality of another is a possibility in DUI cases. In such instances, the fault must be established to determine how the case will be prosecuted. Culpability in DUI homicide cases is pursued either as vehicular manslaughter or as a second-degree murder charge (Watson Murder). The prosecution would pursue any of the above indictments if you caused the accident while under the influence. If the injured party was the party at fault, but you were impaired, regular DUI charges will be brought against you.
The prosecution must prove that you caused the accident and that you had a BAC level of 0.08 or above. They additionally have to prove that you were behind the wheel of the car at the time of the accident. If they have supporting evidence to prove the above allegations, they have a case against you.
Penal Code 191.5 provides that vehicular manslaughter cases are those that a fatality was caused by reckless or negligent driving while under the influence. Negligence is further interrogated to determine if it was a case of gross negligence or ordinary negligence. In the instance of gross negligence, the prosecution may decide to pursue misdemeanor charges in which case you will serve a jail term of no more than a year. Should they pursue felony charges, you are looking at a maximum of six years in prison. Instances of ordinary negligence, on the other hand, are tried as misdemeanors with Penal Code 192 (c) recommending a one-year jail term for offenders.
Watson Murder or Second Degree Murder Charges
Watson murder trials are held within the dictates of Penal Code 187. The prosecution must prove that you intentionally caused the accident intending to kill the victim. Further, the prosecutors should demonstrate that your actions put the lives of other motorists at risk with your acts showing little or no regard to their lives. The above issues show that intent to kill is not necessary for a conviction. Any disregard of another’s safety is a case of implied malice, and is enough to institute a Watson murder charge.
In demonstrating implied malice, the prosecution may introduce more evidence. Prosecutors must prove that:
- You read or signed a Watson admonition in a prior DUI,
- You attended a DUI program as mandated by the court in a previous DUI matter,
- You are more informed of the risks associated with driving under the influence. Individuals who work as paramedics, police officers, or other professionals with firsthand information about the effects of drunk driving fall in this category.
If found guilty, you risk serving a 15-year jail sentence, a fine of up to $10,000 and a strike on your record following California’s Three Strike Law. If you have two or more prior strikes, you will serve the mandatory 25-to-life prison sentences. If there were victims in the crash, you would have three to six years in jail for each victim who suffers great bodily harm, and one to three years for each of those with less severe injuries.
A Fernbrook DUI attorney is your best bet at having the charges dropped or reduced. Their years of practice in DUI matters will inform the ideal defense strategy to deal with any of the DUI matters above. Moreover, they are experienced in handling the following DMV cases.
Matters Handled at the DMV
Cases at California’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) ensue independent of court processes. This means that your license will be revoked or suspended whether or not you face a DUI proceeding. DMV proceedings begin once you are arrested for a DUI charge. The arresting officer will report the DUI to the DMV and have your license suspended for ten days pending a DMV hearing.
DMV hearings do not look for your guilt in the DUI matter. An officer’s suspicion that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the apprehension is enough to start the hearing. Your Fernbrook DUI attorney will be there to represent your interest and argue the matter on your behalf.
The following is an assessment of the DMV suspension cases you are likely to face.
DMV License Suspension; First DUI Offense
California's Vehicle Code 13352.5 (a) guides the DMV on license suspension for a first-time DUI offender. Upon your arrest, your license is temporarily suspended for ten days awaiting your application for a DMV hearing. If you fail to do so, your driving privileges will be suspended by default. Further, if the courts recommend a suspension, the DMV will act as per the court’s direction.
DMV License Suspension; Second DUI Offense
If you are arrested for a DUI in one or two years after your first suspension, you are subject to a second DMV license suspension. You will be liable for a jail term of any time between ninety days to a year. You will also be subject to a fine of no more than $1,000. Alternatively, you may be required to serve a probation term between three and five years.
DMV License Suspension; Third DUI Offense
A third suspension carries severe penalties. You are subject to a one-year suspension of your driving privileges. If found guilty at the end of a trial, you risk having your suspension run for three years. The one-year suspension will be dropped in favor of the three years.
DUI Matters against Out-of-state Drivers
California officers cannot confiscate your license if you are not a California resident upon arrest for a DUI offense. You will be barred from driving through a suspension letter for thirty days. It is upon you, through your Fernbrook DUI attorney to apply for a DMV hearing within ten days. If you are convicted for a DUI offense, you risk jail time and fines. Further, you may be obligated to carry out community service projects, attend a drug and alcohol program, and install an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) on the car you use.
Hire a DUI Attorney Near Me
The best decision you can make when faced with DUI charges is seeking help from an attorney. Hiring one will ensure that you have the best chance of proving your innocence in the matter. You also access their investigation team and DUI experts to counter the prosecution’s charges. This way, you have a fair ruling.
Our team is ready to handle all your DUI cases as well as any DMV matter you may face. Make us your call today. We will be glad to take on your case. Talk to a Fernbrook DUI attorney at 619-535-7150 for a legal consultation.