In Jamacha, a DUI crime is considered a complex crime. The punishment for the offense is severe upon conviction, depending on the nature of the case. If it is your first time being arrested, you are likely to be confused and overwhelmed. At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we have highlighted crucial elements you should know about a first DUI arrest in order to reduce or prevent the confusion that comes after an arrest.
Understanding a California DUI Charge
Because of the high numbers of fatalities in California from DUI accidents, drunk or drugged driving is a serious offense that carries stiff penalties. If you are arrested for a DUI offense, you may be subject to two different crimes. These are:
Driving Under the Influence
When you consume alcohol or drugs and operate a motorized vehicle, you may be charged under Vehicle Code 23152(a). As per this statute, it doesn’t matter if your blood alcohol is below the designated limit of 0.08%. Any time an officer suspects you are driving, and your judgment is impaired, you will be facing DUI charges.
Operating a Vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Level of .08%
The other element of a DUI offense is driving with a BAC level of .08%. In case an arresting officer conducts a breath or blood test, and the test results indicate that your BAC is .08 percent or above, you will be charged according to VC 23152(b).
Take note that a first DUI offense in California is a misdemeanor that is subject to both criminal and administrative penalties. Exceptional circumstances may, however, increase the penalties you will be subjected to upon sentencing. These circumstances are:
- Driving with a blood alcohol content of .15 percent or higher
- DUI causing injuries or fatalities
- Operating a car without a license during arrest
- A person 21 years or younger driving with any amount of alcohol or drugs in the blood.
- DUI with a passenger 14 years or younger
- Failing to submit a blood or breath test sample for testing after an arrest
- DUI with a speed of 20MPH above the designated limit
A first DUI offender will be very confused in case he or she causes an accident resulting in death or injuries. Each of the above circumstances is unique in its way hence the reason you will need a Jamacha DUI attorney who will use his or her experience of first DUI laws to ensure your arrest and charges are within the law and fair.
Things that Follow After a First DUI Arrest
Once you are put under arrest, the officer will issue you with an Admin per se, which is a temporary license. The reason you are issued with the pink paper is to show that you are facing DUI charges, and you can only drive on the temporary permit for only thirty days from the day of issuance as you wait for the case to go to a DMV or court proceeding.
Not everyone is issued a temporary license. In case during the arrest, your license was invalid, or you were driving on a suspended license, you will not be issued with the pink piece of paper.
Sometimes you might be taken to a police station for booking and conducting blood tests. This, however, happens if you have declined FSTs or you have caused an accident resulting in fatalities or severe injuries. Once you submit a sample for chemical testing, you will be set free on the same day. Other officers will hold you until the following day. During your release, you will be issued with a citation requiring you to appear in court at a future date.
If you have committed a felony DUI, you might not be set free until you appear in court. The law requires that you are presented before a judge within forty-eight hours. A first DUI offender is entitled to bail, which you will be granted when you appear before the court. If you are granted bail, the judge will set conditions for your release.
Distinctions Between a DUI Trial and a DMV Hearing
A DUI arrest triggers two legal processes. One of the proceedings is a criminal trial in a court that helps establish if you committed a crime or not. The other procedure is the DMV administrative per se hearing that decides on whether you should retain your driving privileges, or should they be suspended or revoked.
Note that under the DMV legal proceeding, the only penalty you will face is the suspension of your driver’s license. Also, the decision by the DMV isn’t going to affect your court proceeding.
The DMV hearing is not automatic even for first time DUI offenders. Anybody who wants to request a proceeding after a DUI offense must seek a hearing within a ten days window. If the window closes or you lose the proceeding, your driving privileges will be withdrawn for half a year.
Your driving license may also be suspended in a criminal proceeding if the court finds you guilty of drunk or drugged driving. Therefore, the only way to prevent losing these driving privileges is by requesting a DMV hearing and making sure you win it. The other way to protect your rights is by not being found guilty in a criminal proceeding. Winning either of these proceedings will require legal guidance from your Jamacha DUI attorney.
Also, keep in mind that unlike a DMV proceeding, which is optional, a criminal court proceeding isn’t. It’s up to the prosecutor to decide whether to turn down the case or bring charges against you. After charges are filed, you or your attorney must attend the proceedings.
Another difference between a DMV proceeding and a court proceeding is that the court has additional penalties such as fines, incarceration, or probation. Again, even if you win a DMV hearing, the outcome will not affect the court process. But if you win a court hearing, the DMV will be forced to reverse the decision on the license suspension. This happens when the DMV officer establishes that the court’s decision amounts to actual exoneration.
Determining Probable Cause
During prosecution for a drunk driving offense, the prosecutor must assert that the arresting officer had a likely cause for the traffic stop. It means the officer has to explain the reason for the pullover in court. Traffic violations are the main reason why many people are pulled over by police on suspicion of drunk driving. Things like expired registration, speeding, violating traffic signs, and broken tail lights might give an officer a reason to suspect you are driving under the influence.
The prosecution must have sufficient evidence to show that the stop was lawful. Otherwise, all the evidence that results from the stop will be suppressed. Again, the prosecutor will be required to produce evidence showing why they suspected you were DUI. Some of the evidence includes:
- Red eyes
- Slurred speech
- Alcohol odor
- Watery eyes
When an officer observes the above signs of intoxication, he or she will ask you to perform FSTs. They do this because of the mere assumption that your DUI won’t hold in court. There must be adequate proof demonstrating that the stop was valid, and they had evidence to believe you were DUI.
Consequences for a First-Time DUI Sentence in California
The penalties for a first DUI conviction are:
- Possible summary probation for three to five years
- Two days in jail or community services. Under certain circumstances, the sentence may extend to between six to twelve months
- License suspension for at least six months and no more than twelve months
- Driver’s license restriction. You will be allowed to drive to and from work, school, or a DUI school
- Court fines ranging from $390 to $2,000 inclusive of penalty assessment costs
- DUI school typically lasts for three months. The maximum you can attend the program is nine months.
If the judge sentences you to summary probation, you will spend little or no time in jail. However, probation comes with specific conditions. Some of these conditions are:
- You must not operate a car with any amount of alcohol in your system
- If you are arrested for a subsequent DUI, you must submit to a chemical test
- You must not commit an additional crime
- You must install an IID in your car for no more than half a year
The judge may also opt for alternative conditions like compensating the victims of your DUI accident, participating in MADD programs, or attending alcohol or narcotics anonymous meetings.
Remember that if you violate these terms of probation, it will be revoked, and the judge will restore the initial sentence.
Penalties for a First DUI Causing Injury
Whenever you are operating a car under the influence, and you hit a third party injuring them, you should face charges under VC 23153. The third-party might be an occupant of your car, cyclist, or an occupant of another vehicle. Drunk or drugged driving causing injuries is a wobbler, and it’s up to the prosecutor to decide on the charge they prefer against you. The decision is, however, based on the nature of your accident and your criminal record.
If it’s your first DUI offense, the prosecutor will prefer misdemeanor charges. A sentence will result in the following consequences:
- 36 to 60 months summary probation
- Fines and penalty assessment fees amounting to between 390 to 5,000 dollars
- A quarter, one and a half or two and a half years in an alcohol program
- Driver’s license suspension for between twelve to thirty-six months
- Reimbursing the victim(s) of the accident
- Five days to twelve months in jail
In case someone was injured or died in the accident, you have been previously sentenced for a felony DUI, or you have multiple prior wet reckless convictions, the prosecutor will charge you with felony drunk driving. The penalties upon sentencing are:
- Between 16 to 20 months prison incarceration
- An additional and successive one to six years prison sentence for injured survivors. The sentence will depend on the number of survivors and the severity of their injuries.
- A strike on your criminal history
- Compensating the victims
- One and a half to two and a half years in alcohol or drug program
- Court fines ranging from 1,015 to 5,000 dollars in fines
Other Penalties for a First Time DUI
Instead of sentencing you to jail or prison, the judge may order alternative sentences. These are:
- House arrest or electronic monitoring
- Residence in a sober-living environment
- Imprisonment in a private or city jail
Indirect Costs of a First DUI
On top of the court fines and assessment fees, a conviction as a first time DUI offender will attract the following incidental costs:
- More than two hundred dollars for towing or impounding the car
- Above 600 dollars as fees for the DUI school based on the length of the program
- More than eight hundred dollars in court fees. The court costs depend on the extent of the crime and the individual court.
- Legal fees
- A mandatory five hundred dollars contribution to the victim compensation program
- A DMV license reinstatement fee of $125
- $7,000 insurance premium increase depending on the insurance company and the type of policy purchased.
- Seventy-five to one hundred dollars as the cost of installing an IID
- An additional two and a half dollars every day on top of the installation fee
- Tax or ride-sharing costs during the duration of license suspension
- Loss of income because of work absenteeism due to jail time or lack of transport means after the license has been suspended or your car impounded.
Reduction of First DUI Charges
Keep in mind that although these consequences are harsh, you can have a first DUI charge reduced to a dry reckless, wet reckless, drunk in public, or an exhibition of speed.
If your case has facts that make the prosecutor doubt the strength of his or her evidence, you may be offered a plea bargain where the charges will be lowered to a lesser crime with lighter punishments.
A prosecutor will be willing to lower a first DUI charge to wet reckless if your BAC level is between .08 to .10 percent. Arguing that you had a rising BAC at the time of arrest or the police lacked probable cause for the stop, the prosecutor will be more willing to offer you a plea deal and charge you with a lesser offense.
The prosecutor will also be willing to reduce the charges if the arresting officer cannot prove the person who was behind the wheel at the time of apprehension. An officer will find it challenging to show the driver in the following scenarios:
- A car crash where the occupants are outside the car and fail to admit the person who was driving.
- Your vehicle plate numbers were reported to the police, and the officer comes to your residence to find you intoxicated.
- You were found parked alongside the road or sleeping in your vehicle, and the officer observed that you were drunk or drugged
In the interest of justice, even if there is some evidence that may point you were driving, the prosecutor will not be willing to risk.
A prosecuting attorney would not be willing to lower your charges to a wet reckless in a plea deal if your BAC at the time of driving was .10 percent or more. They will also not offer you a reduction of the charges if you were involved in a car collision or if your case has some aggravating factors.
How an Attorney Can Help You Fight First Time DUI Charges
Jamacha and the entire state of California take DUI charges seriously. A first DUI charge is enough to cause adverse changes in both your professional and private life. The penalties or sentences are severe. For this reason, immediately, you are alleged to have been DUI, call a Jamacha DUI attorney. Taking prompt action to build a strong defense.
Your Jamacha DUI attorney will do the following things:
The good thing with hiring an experienced attorney is that he or she will have the private investigators to revisit the scene of the crash to take pictures and gather new evidence. An attorney will also request for traffic footage at the scene to see what happened and interview the witnesses. An excellent attorney will also seek the police report to compare with their separate and independent investigation.
Conduct Legal Research and Register Motions
An experienced and profound Jamacha DUI attorney understands the laws that apply to traffic stops and drunk driving investigations. He or she will also appreciate the evidence that is necessary to support various motions like the motion to suppress evidence. These motions are registered and heard before trial. If a petition like the one for suppressing evidence or dismissing charges becomes successful, you don’t have to worry about going for a hearing because the case will be thrown out.
The majority of drunk or drugged charges don’t proceed to trial. It is an indicator that your attorney and the prosecuting attorney can sit down and negotiate a settlement. Successful negotiation between these two parties may result in:
- Entire dismissal of a case
- A plea deal for a lesser charge like wet or dry reckless or speed contest
An attorney that has been practicing for long will know the kind of evidence to present to convince the prosecution to lower or remove the charges.
Find a First Time DUI Attorney Near Me
At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we have experience dealing with all types of DUI cases in Jamacha. Therefore, if you are facing allegations of this offense and want to lower the chances of a conviction, call us today at 619-535-7150 so that we can discuss your case.