Drugged or drunk driving is a crime in California severely punished with one of the legal consequences being jail time. When intoxicated by either drugs or alcohol, it means you are impaired and in no condition to operate a motor vehicle. Many accidents on our roads resulting in tragic injuries or fatalities are a result of drunk driving. The state, therefore, makes it illegal for any person to be impaired by an intoxicant and operate a vehicle at the same time.
When arrested and charged with this offense, your life will change, especially when convicted. Sometimes you can also face these accusations wrongly, without proper representation, and end up with a conviction. Having a lawyer fight for you increases your chances of beating the allegations against you and coming out with a favorable outcome. When in Jamacha Junction, a lawyer from San Diego DUI Attorney can represent you and get you a favorable outcome.
Understanding DUI Crimes
DUI means driving under the influence. The influence here is when a driver is high on any intoxicant, be it prescription drugs, alcohol, or controlled substances. As long as one takes a substance that causes their physical and mental abilities to be impaired, they are under the influence.
The penalties for intoxicated driving are steep, especially when one repeats the offense, is below 21 years, or is a driver of a commercial vehicle. There are various ways a police officer can find an intoxicated driver. Some of these are:
- When you violate a traffic rule such as speeding, driving recklessly, jumping a traffic light, driving on the wrong side of the road, among many other violations.
- When involved in an accident, the police are called to the scene. Automatically, when trying to establish the cause of the accident, they will test the drivers for intoxication.
- When the police establish a checkpoint to discourage intoxicated driving, they will arrest those found drunk and charge them with the offense.
- An officer on patrol can also notice your driving pattern and decide to stop you. When you keep veering off the road or enter and exit lanes carelessly, an officer may stop you and find out the reason for your driving pattern.
Any of these reasons, among others, constitute the lawful manner in which you may be arrested for drunk or drugged driving.
Once stopped, the arresting officer will ask you to perform a variety of field sobriety tests to ascertain your impairment. One of the standard tests, in this case, is taking the preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS). This is a test where you breathe into a handheld device that will register the alcohol content in your breath. If the officer finds a reason to arrest you for further investigation, as long as the procedure is followed, then the arrest is lawful.
It is, however, essential to note that California adheres to the implied consent law. This means that as long as you hold a California driver’s license, you are expected to submit to a chemical test. However, this test will not be forced on you, but a failure to take it will result in the enhancement of your penalties.
It is equally important to note that the field sobriety tests are not mandatory, and failure to agree to them will not cause you enhanced penalties. However, some incidents require one to submit to field sobriety tests, and a decline in it would result in enhanced penalties. These include:
- When you are serving a probation sentence for a prior DUI
- When below 21 years and stopped for intoxicated driving
When on a misdemeanor DUI probation, you risk having the probation revoked if you refuse to take a field sobriety test. This is because one of the requirements or conditions for probation is agreeing to test at any time. Additionally, driving without a detectable amount of alcohol or drugs in your system is another condition.
It is equally important to note that failing or passing and even refusing to submit to a field sobriety test does not always determine whether the officer will arrest you or not. The officers are trained to identify other signs that indicate intoxication. Some symptoms an officer will look for include:
- If they smell alcohol around you
- When your eyes are bloodshot and watery
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Slow responses to the questions from the officer
- Lacking balance when you stand
- When you fumble while fetching your license
- When your general appearance indicates intoxication
- When you were driving poorly
When an officer notices these signs even when you decline a field test or pass it, you still be arrested on DUI suspicion. This should prompt you to find a Jamacha Junction DUI attorney to represent you once charged with the offense.
Once arrested and taken to the station, further tests according to the implied consent law are carried out. These tests are referred to as chemical tests that use breath, blood, or urine. The first chemical test you are asked to submit to is a chemical breath test. This test is designed to measure the alcohol in your breath. You will be asked to breathe deeply into the breathalyzer device that will record your BAC results.
When you display signs of intoxication, but the breathalyzer test does not record a BAC level, the officers will assume drugs impair you. This will prompt them to ask for a blood sample to test it for intoxication. The Supreme Court, however, ruled it unconstitutional to subject a person to a blood test without their consent or court order. The arresting officer must present the request before a judge who will decide if the reason warrants the issuance of the court order.
Once the court order is obtained, you must allow blood to be drawn and tested for intoxication. The officers in carrying out any chemical test must adhere to the Title 17 rules that regulate how the testing is carried out.
When involved in a road accident where you are unable to submit to a breath test, your blood will be drawn automatically for testing.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
Once lawfully arrested and the officers finish their investigations, you may either be released or charged with a DUI offense. These may include:
- Driving when high on alcohol according to VEH 23152(a)
- Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or over. This is termed as the per se violation according to VEH 23152(b)
- Operating a vehicle while addicted to a drug according to VEH 23152(c)
- Operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or over according to VEH 23152(d)
- Driving a car when hired by a passenger to transport them such as a taxi driver according to VEH 23152(e)
- Driving while under the intoxication of drugs according to VEH 23152(f)
- Driving high on both drugs and alcohol according to VEH 23152(g)
When charged with any of the violations above after investigations, hiring a local Jamacha Junction DUI attorney to represent you during your trial is crucial.
Once charged, the officer will take your driving license and send it to the DMV with a notification of the charges against you and their investigation. The officer will issue you with a temporary license to be used for thirty days only as you wait for the decision of the DMV. Before your release, however, you will be asked to post bail, which is typically refunded after the completion of your case.
The Role of the DMV in a DUI Case
The DMV in California is the body that regulates the issuance of licenses to potential drivers and also punishes those that violate the law. The DMV is, however, independent of the court, meaning the DMV’s hearings and determinations are not directed by the courts. The DMV, in this case, gives administrative suspension on licenses even when the court issues the same punishment as a legal penalty for DUI violation.
When the DMV receives your license and the report from the arresting officer, they will send you a notification indicating their intention to suspend your license. You are, however, given ten days to ask for a hearing to defend their decision. The report from the arresting officer typically includes the following:
- The reason the officer stopped you
- The field sobriety tests carried out and the results
- The chemical tests carried out and their results and if you willingly agreed to the tests
- A report indicating your refusal to a chemical test or not
This report is crucial in deciding the fate of your driving privileges by the DMV. If you request the hearing, the DMV will schedule a date. During the discussion, you are allowed to have your Jamacha Junction DUI attorney represent you and argue against the arresting officer’s testimony. A lawyer increases your chance of winning at the hearing. However, when you lose, your license becomes suspended depending on your offense.
The DMV can also revoke your license permanently based on the circumstances of your offense. For instance, if you are a commercial driver charged with a DUI offense for a second time, you could get a permanent revocation of your license. When you commit a DUI offense for the fourth time in ten years, you also face the possibility of permanent revocation of your license.
DUI Offenses in California
There are three types of DUI crimes that attract the earlier discussed charges. These are:
- Standard DUIs
- Commercial DUIs and
- Underage DUIs
These are the common types of DUI offenses that are charged or tried as misdemeanors. The penalties received upon conviction depend on whether the defendant has prior convictions on the offense. If there were persons injured as a result is also a consideration. The first three standard DUI offenses without aggravating factors are prosecuted and convicted as misdemeanors. When charged and convicted of the offense, the penalties you receive range between the below spectrum, with each subsequent conviction receiving harsher penalties than the previous one:
- County jail incarceration for not more than a year
- Cash fines together with other administrative and assessment fees amounting to $18,000
- Misdemeanor probation sentence for a minimum of three years but not exceeding five
- Suspension of driver’s license by the court from six months but not above three years. This is besides the DMV suspension that a defendant served concurrently
- Installation of an IID equipment in every car the defendant drives
- Attendance and completion of a DUI education program for a minimum of three months but not exceeding thirty months.
Aside from these penalties, a conviction will attract other consequences. This makes it more critical to hire a Jamacha Junction DUI attorney who will fight against a conviction or negotiate for a lesser sentence.
When a Standard DUI Becomes a Felony
A standard DUI becomes an automatic felony when repeated for the fourth time in ten years. A Conviction for the felony offense comes with the penalties below:
- Sentenced to pay fines and other assessment fees amounting to $18,000 and not over
- Jail time at the state prison for sixteen months to a maximum of three years
- Suspension of your driver’s license for four years, with a probability of a permanent revocation
DUI Resulting in Bodily Harm
A DUI offense can result in injuries to the body. When this happens, it aggravates the charges against you even when it is your first offense. When injuries occur in a DUI offense, the defendant faces either a misdemeanor or felony charge. When choosing how to try you, the prosecutor evaluates your criminal record and seriousness of the injuries.
A misdemeanor conviction attracts the following penalties:
- Misdemeanor probation for three years or more, but not exceeding five
- Jail time of between five days and a year
- Cash fines not below $390 or over $5,000
- Attending a DUI program for not less than three months or in excess of thirty months
- Installing your vehicle with an IID equipment
- Having a court triggered revocation of your license lasting a year besides the DMV suspension
- Payment of injuries to the accident victims
On the other hand, a felony conviction carries steeper penalties that include:
- Cash fines as well as additional assessment fees totaling $18,000 but not over
- Paying damages to the accident victims
- State imprisonment for a minimum of sixteen months but not exceeding thirty-six months
- A court initiated license suspension for not over four years with a possible permanent suspension. This is also beside the DMV triggered an administrative suspension
- Attending and completing a thirty-month DUI education program
- Felony probation for not less than three years or over five years.
- Attaining the status of a convicted felon
- Having your vehicle installed with an IID while your license is suspended
Individuals that drive commercial vehicles have an exclusive license aside from that of driving a regular car. Most people have a commercial license to enable them to work as business drivers. When found driving a commercial vehicle intoxicated or with a BAC of 0.04% or over, the penalties received are harsher. Avoiding a possible conviction by presenting a convincing argument through your Jamacha Junction DUI attorney is possible.
When found guilty of the crime for the first time, you risk having your license suspended for a year. A subsequent conviction will result in a permanent suspension, meaning you lose your source of livelihood. One of the essential reasons to fight against a conviction is that a commercial driver has no option of getting a restricted license. This means during the period their license is suspended, they must look for another way to earn their living.
There are also aggravating factors that enhance the punishment one receives on this offense when convicted. These include:
- When you drive a vehicle loaded with hazardous materials, you get an extra three years of jail time to your sentence
- When you repeat a DUI offense while carrying dangerous materials, you face the possibility of life imprisonment
- If you are charged with a DUI and found to be using your license to transport controlled substances, which is a felony offense, you get life imprisonment.
California has a zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking. For persons below 21 years, driving impaired or with a BAC of 0.01% is prohibited. The standard punishment, when found in violation of the law, is having your license suspended.
However, when an underage has a BAC of 0.08% or over, they face charges according to the law on standard DUI offenses. When convicted, you get a record in your criminal history that will present even further consequences.
Expungement of Your DUI Record
When one is convicted of any crime in California, you are permitted to seek expungement of your record. However, not everyone qualifies for expungement. You must complete your sentence successfully before petitioning for expungement.
When convicted, your record is available for anyone to see. This, in most cases, gives you challenges in finding a job or getting an apartment to rent. Typically, no potential landlord or employer wants an association with a person holding a criminal record. However, when you have your record expunged, no one can see your record. This means you can secure a job or an apartment as well as other things you may not enjoy with a history.
Your lawyer will petition the court to expunge your record by presenting an argument during the expungement hearing. The prosecutor may protest against the expungement as well, but the judge makes the final ruling.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
DUI allegations must be taken with the seriousness they deserve. When you fail to present a strong defense against the charges, you could be wrongly convicted or receive harsh penalties. All these can be prevented when you hire an experienced lawyer to defend you against these allegations. When charged in Jamacha Junction, the San Diego DUI Attorney will offer passionate defense to get a favorable outcome. Contact us at 619-535-7150 and let us represent you.