One of the most common offenses in California that are severely punished is driving under the influence. Many people in social gatherings or for recreation enjoy having alcoholic drinks together, and others take drugs. Both alcohol and drugs contain intoxicating substances that cause impairment to those that consume. Young people also like to party and, in the process, consume intoxicating substances that cause impairment. When suspected of intoxicated driving, a DUI charge can be leveled against you. Fighting these allegations is critical to avoiding jail time, fines, and other consequences that come as a result.
When charged in Los Terrenitos, contact the San Diego DUI Attorney to represent you. A lawyer, in this case, understands the law on DUI offenses and all the loopholes to exploit and ensure an excellent outcome.
A Guide to DUI Laws in California
When you operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol, medication, or narcotics in California, it is a crime. There are various laws you may be charged with violating when arrested on a DUI charge. Most of these laws are, however, misdemeanors, especially when no aggravating elements exist. Additionally, DUI penalties are issued according to the number of DUI offenses one has committed, and if there are injuries caused. The period under which these penalties are pegged on is ten years.
First, second, and third offenses are charged as misdemeanors when no other aggravating factors exist. A fourth offense is an automatic felony even when no aggravating aspects exist. When stopped and arrested for a DUI, you will face one of the charges below. It is, however, advisable to get a local Los Terrenitos DUI attorney to be on your side to avoid these harsh penalties. These are:
Driving Under the Influence, VEH 23152(a)
When you are arrested for impaired driving, it means your abilities both physically and mentally are not as those of a sober person on the road. This means you can cause accidents that endanger the lives of others as well as yours. For this offense, the BAC level is not necessary to get a conviction. The officer can stop you on the road and carry out field sobriety tests. When you fail in these even if you refuse a chemical test, you will still be charged. The law you would have violated under this is that of VEH 23152(a).
Driving With a 0.08% BAC or More, VEH 23152(b)
After an arrest on impaired driving, the officer takes you to the station where further tests are done to determine your BAC or if you have intoxicants in your blood system. These tests are what is known as DUI chemical tests. The tests involve the drawing of blood to check on intoxication, especially when high on drugs and chemical breath tests to check the BAC.
Under the law of implied consent, you are required to agree to these tests, especially the breath test. Typically, blood chemical tests are carried out at your request when a court order is issued for it, and you are suspected to be high on drugs.
When your BAC results come back, and you are over the legal limit, or your blood test results indicate intoxication, you face VEH 23152(b) charges. The BAC results that lead to these charges are:
- When a regular car driver operates their vehicle with a 0.08% BAC or over
- When you hold a Commercial Driver’s License and were arrested operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or over
- When you are below 21 years and charged with driving with a BAC of 0.01%.
When your BAC results are beyond the legal limit and you were impaired as you drove, you will be charged for violating two laws; VEH 23152(a) and the VEH 23152(b) statutes.
It is important to note that blood test results do not have an equivalent measure like that of alcohol to determine the level of drug intoxication to warrant the offense. As long as you have drug intoxicants in your blood and were impaired as you drove, you face these charges.
When arrested and charged with violating VEH 23152(b), you not only trigger a court trial but a DMV hearing as well. When your BAC is over the legal limit, you will automatically face the per se charges that go to suspend your license. Having a suspended license is one of the harshest penalties or consequences of a DUI. Most people use their vehicles to move from one place to another, making things easier, and giving you the ability to accomplish more things within a short time. When you are denied driving, it becomes inconveniencing to carry out your daily activities.
This is one of the most important reasons to fight against the suspension of your license. The DMV hearing comes about when you receive a notification from them that they intend to suspend your license. When you request an administrative hearing to challenge their decision, your Los Terrenitos DUI attorney can represent you to increase your chances of winning against the suspension. If you fail to win during this hearing, your license gets an administrative suspension, aside from the one the court may issue as a penalty.
It is equally important to note that when you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you will not face VEH 23152(b) charges. However, because you are expected to submit to these tests, failure will lead to other consequences. Some of these consequences include:
- Increased penalties when convicted of a DUI offense
- An automatic administrative suspension of your driver’s license
- You will not qualify for a restricted license
Your lawyer will advise you that taking the chemical test is better than declining it. An experienced attorney knows how to fight the chemical test results and have them dismissed as evidence against you. This gives you a better chance of having your charges dismissed as opposed to refusing to submit to the test.
Drug Addict DUI, VEH 23152(c)
When you have a drug addiction, it is a criminal offense to operate your car. However, when you are enrolled in a drug program approved by the state to deal with your addiction, you can drive. When arrested for impaired driving and your impairment is as a result of drug addiction, you face VEH 23152(c) charges.
Commercial Vehicle DUI, VEH 23152(d)
Commercial vehicle drivers are held at higher regard because of the nature of their jobs. As a result of this, persons that want to work as commercial drivers must have a specialized driver’s license specifically for them. When you hold this license, it means you drive common carrier vehicles. These are the vehicles that transport people and products for a profit.
When you are transporting people on a bus, school bus, or any other form of public transport, you must be more mindful. This means that you cannot operate a vehicle when impaired and having a BAC of 0.04% or over.
The penalties for commercial drivers charged with a DUI offense are even harsher. Aside from the typical jail time or fines, a commercial driver does not qualify to get a restricted license. This means you will not earn a living as a driver once arrested for the offense until the suspension gets lifted. Additionally, when the driver repeats the offense a second time, their license gets permanent revocation. These are stringent penalties making it imperative to engage a local Los Terrenitos DUI attorney to defend you against a conviction.
Driving Intoxicated With a Passenger in a Hired Vehicle, VEH 23152(e)
Taxi drivers are also subjected to DUI charges. If a passenger hires a vehicle such as a taxi or a limousine to transport them, the driver must not be intoxicated. When stopped with a passenger and found to be driving the vehicle with a BAC of 0.04%, you face penalties for violating the law under this statute.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, VEH 23152(f)
The legalization of medical marijuana has increased the cases of those that drive high on it. Additionally, many people may take prescription drugs or antihistamines that cause drowsiness or impairment and operate a vehicle. Even when you have consumed legally acceptable drugs, driving impaired by them is a crime. The penalties for this offense are similar to those of driving while high on alcohol.
Driving Under the Influence of Both Drugs and Alcohol, VEH 23152(g)
When you are found to have been driving high in both alcohol and narcotics or medication, you will be charged with violating this statute.
Is a Lawyer Necessary When Faced With These Charges?
When charged with a criminal offense, it is your freedom and life you must be concerned about. A conviction comes with various consequences aside from those issued by the court. A lawyer is critical when fighting against these charges. The goal of every defendant is to avoid a conviction or get the least penalties possible. This is usually possible when you have an aggressive and experienced local Los Torrenitos DUI Attorney to defend you.
Your lawyer will do many things that you cannot do for yourself. Some of these include:
One of the critical roles of your lawyer is assessing or analyzing the evidence the prosecution has against you. If left to yourself, you may not understand what to look for and what loopholes to use to your advantage. A lawyer is necessary in this case to question the evidence against you and avoid fabricated evidence.
When you are charged with a DUI causing injuries, there must be sufficient evidence that you were responsible for the accident. Sometimes just because you drove drunk does not mean you caused the accident. When faced with a DUI charge leading to injuries, you may be charged with a felony that carries steeper penalties. Your lawyer will analyze the accident scene together with experts to ascertain the actual cause of the accident.
If you were not the cause of the accident, then you should be charged with a lesser offense that of impaired driving, according to VEH 23152(a) and not a DUI with injuries. It is common for a police officer to assume that the drunk or drugged driver caused an accident when it is not. You do not also know what to look out for to know who is responsible for the accident. Additionally, establishing fault is critical in avoiding paying damages to the victims.
Negotiating Plea Deals
After your lawyer studies the case against you, he or she is likely to foretell the outcome. The role of your lawyer is to ensure you receive the best outcome possible. For this reason, when your lawyer sees you may receive harsher penalties, he or she may engage the prosecution in a plea deal. Your lawyer may seek for the case not to go to trial but for you to plead guilty for a lesser offense carrying lesser penalties. Other times, when the evidence is overwhelming, he or she can advise you to plead guilty to the crime and receive lesser penalties as well.
Preparing Your Defense
Preparing a defense is not easy as some may think. Your Los Terrenitos DUI attorney must evaluate your case and come up with various strategies that work in your favor. Some of the defense strategies your attorney will look at include:
Chemical Test Errors
When stopped for a DUI, a breathalyzer test will be used to determine the alcohol amount in your system. Equally, when high on drugs, your blood will be drawn and tested for intoxication. Unfortunately, chemical tests can be done in a way that produces invalid results.
Carrying out chemical tests has regulations outlined under Title 17. Some of the requirements are that the equipment used in the testing must be clean and free from contamination. Additionally, when a blood test is carried out, a sample of the blood must be preserved for future examination. If this is not done or the sample is contaminated, it may mean the sample used to obtain the results was also contaminated.
A breathalyzer machine must also be maintained or calibrated according to the regulations under Title 17. Your Los Terrenitos DUI attorney can request the records to show if the breathalyzer was well maintained or not. A failure to maintain and calibrate the device can result in registering the wrong readings. When this is the case, you are not guilty of VEH 23152(b).
The Arrest was Unlawful
When you are unlawfully arrested or searched, the evidence gathered is dismissed. In California, it is illegal for a police officer to stop you without probable cause. When you are stopped randomly for no apparent reason or the officer does not state why they have stopped you, it is illegal.
Your attorney will question you about how the arrest happened and also challenge the arresting officer. If there was no legal reason to stop you, your attorney could petition for the suppression of the evidence gathered because it is as a result of an illegal search.
The Inaccuracy of the Field Sobriety Tests
After an officer stops you and realizes you are impaired, he or she will ask you to perform some field sobriety tests. FSTs are not always accurate. Various conditions, when present, resulting in one failing in the tests. For instance, when asked to stand on one leg, it may be impossible when one is wearing uncomfortable shoes. Uneven ground or noise in the background can also affect the performance of the tests.
You were Not Driving When You Were Arrested
One of the elements a prosecutor must prove is that at the time you were arrested, you were driving while impaired. If you were found sleeping in the car with the engine running but not driving, this does not support the offense. Additionally, if you had pulled over because you felt drunk to drive and were arrested, again, there is no evidence that you were driving intoxicated. Your Los Terrenitos DUI attorney can present a convincing argument based on this and get you acquitted if it was the case.
Penalties for DUI
As earlier mentioned, the penalties for a DUI charge are steep from the misdemeanor to the felony punishments. When passing sentence, the judge considers if you have prior DUI convictions and if you injured people as a result. The convictions are considered over ten years, where any repeat DUI offense within the period receives harsher penalties.
The penalties when convicted of misdemeanor DUI are:
- Fines of $390 in the minimum but not exceeding $1,000. Additionally, you will be required to pay other court penalties that can increase the total to $18,000
- Jail sentence of not more than a year in county prison, and sometimes state imprisonment when it is your third offense for 16 months
- Court-ordered license suspension for not less than six months and not over three years. This is besides administrative suspension of the license imposed by the DMV
- Probation sentencing for three years to a maximum of five. The probation, in this case, comes with various conditions, such as being prohibited from driving impaired even in the least way possible.
- Attending a DUI school program for three months to thirty months, depending on the circumstances of the offense.
- You must have an IID fitted in any vehicle you drive
On the other hand, felony DUI penalties include:
- Cash fines varying from $390 and not over $5,000. Additionally, you will pay additional penalty assessment fees that can bring the total to $18,000 but not over.
- Sentenced to jail at the state prison for 16 months but not over three years
- Having a four-year suspension on your license
These penalties, among other consequences, can alter your life for a long time. Having a DUI Attorney formulate your defense can prevent you from facing these harsh consequences.
Find a Los Terrenitos DUI Attorney Near Me
Your aim, when accused of any crime, is to avoid a conviction. This is why having an attorney strategize your defense after studying your case is crucial. When arrested in Los Terrenitos, get in touch with the San Diego DUI Attorney who will offer advice and much-needed defense. Contact us at 619-535-715 and together, will fight the allegations against you.