When you get arrested on a DUI suspicion, a specific process will be followed until you are charged for the offense. Typically, when charged for this crime, you will face the possibility of having your driving privileges taken away in addition to other penalties. Having a criminal record is also a consequence that brings with it numerous challenges in your day to day life.
When arrested for operating your vehicle when high on drugs or alcohol, you need a strategy that will enable you to avoid these consequences. Finding a DUI lawyer to help come up with ways to defeat the allegations is crucial. When charged in Manzanita, San Diego DUI Attorney can formulate defense strategies that work to your advantage.
California DUI Laws
When arrested on a DUI charge, you will face misdemeanor charges for violating any of the following laws in California:
- VEH 23152(a) – operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol
- VEH 23152(b) – driving a car with 0.08% BAC or over
- VEH 23152(c) – operating a vehicle while on drug addiction
- VEH 23152(d) – operating a common carrier vehicle with a 0.04% BAC or over
- VEH 23152(e) – carrying a passenger in a car typically hired by passengers with a 0.04% BAC or higher
- VEH 23152(f) – operating a vehicle intoxicated by drugs
- VEH 23152(g) – operating a vehicle when high on both drugs and alcohol
A violation of any of these offenses the first three times is prosecuted and penalized as misdemeanors. However, these same offenses can become felonies if repeated for the fourth time in ten years from the first crime. These violations can also become felonies when committed for the first time if one causes significant injuries as a result of the DUI. Additionally, the violations can attract increased penalties when certain aggravating factors are present. Despite this, an experienced Manzanita DUI attorney can fight the allegations against you and get you favorable penalties instead of the harsh ones.
As earlier stated, when you commit the offense for the first time, the penalties you receive are less harsh to those of a second offense. The law provides a spectrum against which the judge bases the punishments he or she issues following a conviction on a misdemeanor. These are:
- A possible jail sentence in a county jail that does not last beyond one year
- Payment of cash fines from $390 but not beyond $1,000
- Penalty assessment costs not beyond $18,000
- Probation sentence as opposed to jail time for not less than three years or above five years. The probation also comes with conditions. When these are violated can result in its revocation and stay of the jail sentence instead.
- Participation in a DUI school for three months or more but not exceeding thirty months.
- Administrative suspension of your license by the DMV
- The court suspended the license for not less than six months
- Installation of an IID in all the vehicles you drive
When charged with a felony, the punishments are harsher. A Manzanita DUI attorney can assist in fighting against these charges or get you a plea deal instead. The role of a lawyer is to ensure you receive the best outcome possible. Felony penalties include:
- Formal probation with harsh conditions that when violated will result in its revocation
- Jail sentence at the state prison lasting not over three years. However, if the injuries you caused were significant, the penalty is increased. For every injured victim, you receive an additional jail sentence that is served consecutively with the other jail sentence.
- You will be ordered to pay the victims that were injured compensation for the losses they incurred due to the injuries
- Your license gets revoked by the court for four years and sometimes permanently. The DMV will also suspend or cancel your license
- You become a convicted felon according to the low
- Depending on the circumstances of the offense, you may earn a strike in your record.
Irrespective of whether the offense is your first or it is a repeat one, the penalties and consequences are harsh and alter your life negatively. Having a committed and aggressive attorney helping you overcome these allegations is crucial.
The DUI Arrest Process
One of the key factors before being charged is for the officer to ensure he or she follows the law when arresting and charging you with the offense. When an officer breaks the law while stopping you, your Manzanita DUI attorney can use it against them in your defense.
For an officer to arrest you lawfully, he or she must have a probable cause to stop you or arrest you. Some of the common legally acceptable reasons for a stop include:
- Stopping at a police DUI checkpoint
- Having a broken tail light resulting in a stop
- Violating a traffic rule such as jumping a light
- Reckless driving on the roads
- Driving above the speed limit
When an officer stops you on any of the above, then it is a legal stop. An officer will ask for your license and registration and proceed to tell you why you were stopped. Additionally, you will receive a citation or a ticket for the violation you were stopped for. During the process, the officer may smell alcohol, notice alcohol bottles in the car or drug equipment. Additionally, the officer may see some of the following symptoms:
- You have watery, bloodshot eyes
- Your speech is incoherent and slow
- Your motor responses are slow
- You fumble as you present your license
- When asked to get out of the car, you lose balance
These signs, among others, will trigger the officer to perform field sobriety tests to ascertain your impairment. It is important to note that unless you are below 21 years or are serving a DUI probation, you do not have to submit to the tests. Unfortunately, even sober individuals fail these tests for several reasons. When the officer has reason to believe that further tests have to be carried out, you will be arrested and taken to the station.
At the station, a chemical test which you must submit to is taken to establish the level of alcohol intoxication and if you have intoxicants from drugs in your blood. In case you decline to do the chemical tests, your penalties are enhanced. This means both the DMV and the court will impose stricter penalties. This is in comparison to those when one submits to chemical tests.
When the officer is satisfied that there is sufficient reason to charge you with a DUI offense, they will take your license and send it to the DMV. When your BAC indicates you were driving when the alcohol level in your blood exceeded the legal limit, you trigger a per se hearing with the DMV. Upon receiving your license and a report of your arrest, the DMV will communicate about their intention to suspend your license.
Fortunately, you have a right to defend your license against suspension by requesting an administrative hearing. This is only permitted when you had agreed to a chemical test, but if you hadn’t, your license would receive an automatic suspension. When you get a hearing date, you are allowed to have your attorney represent you.
The DMV Hearing
Once faced with DUI charges, you will have to undergo a DMV trial and a court trial. The DMV trial is what is referred to as the per se hearing to defend your license from suspension. The role of the DMV differs from that of the court, with each having its mandate. Your Manzanita DUI attorney will prepare for this hearing to win it.
Fortunately, even when your license is suspended, you can continue to drive with a restricted license as long as you install an IID in your vehicle. An IID is a breathalyzer device that prevents a car from starting when they smell alcohol in the driver. This device is crucial when one hopes to get a restricted license to enable them to continue enjoying driving privileges.
A DUI DMV administrative hearing happens at the DMV offices. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether your license should get suspended or not. During this hearing, you have various rights. One of the rights is having an officer preside over the trial. DMV administrative hearings are typically relaxed compared to court hearings. Unfortunately, the evidence required in this hearing to find you guilty is not as much as that of the court trial.
Despite the informal way DMV DUI hearings are carried out, you have critical rights at the hearing. One of the most fundamental rights is having legal representation during the trial. The DMV does not, however, appoint a lawyer for you, but you pay for the legal services yourself. During the trial, your attorney will:
- Analyze and challenge the evidence
- Present or subpoena witnesses to your defense
- Cross-examine the DMV witnesses
- Allow you to testify in your defense
Your lawyer will have various defense strategies to use that are similar to those used in the court of law. Later, we discuss the different strategies used to defend DUI DMV cases as well as court cases to your advantage.
The DUI Court Process
Once you have been legally arrested and charged, you are given notice of when to appear in court. Most court processes begin after the DMV hearing. Your winning or losing at the DMV hearing has no bearing on the criminal case at the court. The key players in your DUI trial include:
- You as the defendant
- Your DUI defense lawyer
- The state prosecutor
- The presiding judge and
- Sometimes, the jury.
The court process starts with you being arraigned and ends when the charges against you are dismissed, or you get sentenced. During the arraignment, the prosecutor will offer you a plea offer. This is the recommended sentence by the prosecutor should you agree to plead guilty to the charges.
This is also the time you enter your plea of guilty or not guilty to the DUI charges. If you take a guilty plea, you get sentenced to the offense, and the case is closed. However, if you enter a not guilty plea, your Manzanita DUI attorney will receive copies of the evidence the prosecutor has against you for analysis.
The court further gives the date when the trial will begin. Before then, your defense attorney will evaluate the evidence as well as the police report provided. Your lawyer will also interview any witnesses to the case and the arresting officer. This is typically before the commencement of the trial. When the trial date comes, the prosecutor will present their argument before the court, and your lawyer will argue your case as well.
After the trial and upon the jury weighing all the facts presented, a decision is made. You will be found either guilty or innocent of the allegations. If found guilty, the judge will go ahead and issue sentencing according to the DUI laws, as earlier discussed.
Commonly Used Defenses at Both the DMV and Court Cases
During the DMV hearing, your lawyer is typically fighting to avoid the suspension of your license. At the criminal court, your lawyer will be challenging to get the allegations dropped or to avoid harsh penalties. The defense strategies employed are often similar, and they include:
The DUI Checkpoint Where You Got Arrested Was Illegal
When your defense attorney is evaluating your case, he or she checks to establish if your arrest was legal or illegal. Sometimes a DUI checkpoint may not be in line with the strict lawful requirements of a DUI arrest. If your lawyer establishes this, he can exploit the weakness and ascertain that the arrest was unlawful. If this argument is convincing enough, your charges get dropped, and you win both the court hearing and the DMV DUI hearing.
There Was No Probable Reason to Arrest You
One of the critical elements faced with a DUI offense a prosecutor must prove is that there was a legal or probable reason to stop you. If the arresting officer never provided a probable cause to arrest you for a DUI, your lawyer can present an argument to this effect. He or she may state that:
- You were in obedience to all traffic rules, but you got pulled over based on racial profiling
- Even when you were in a crash, you went home, and due to the stress, you began to drink. Unfortunately, when the officers came to speak with you, they found you drunk and assumed you were intoxicated as you drove.
When these arguments are sufficiently convincing, the DMV will not suspend your license, and the court will dismiss the allegations against you.
There Was No 15 Minute Observation
The code of regulations, as found under Title 17, stipulates how both the chemical blood and breath tests should be conducted. This involves how the samples are taken, kept, and analyzed. When rules, according to Title 17, are not strictly followed, the arrest and charges present a reason for scrutinizing.
One of the critical regulations when taking a breath test is to observe the arrestee for 15 minutes before taking the breath test. During this time, the officer must watch that the arrestee does not consume anything, regurgitate, puke, smoke, or do anything that may jeopardize the outcome of their BAC.
When this is not observed, the arrestee may do anything that will lead to them registering a high BAC, which may not be accurate. If your lawyer wins with this argument, the DMV will not suspend their license; either will the BAC results be used in the criminal court against them.
The Breathalyzer Machine Was Not Functioning Well
The operation and maintenance of the devices used in chemical testing are also regulated under Title 17. These devices, according to the law, must be calibrated every ten days or after testing 150 breath samples. If these devices were not maintained according to the regulations, the results they register might be inaccurate.
A malfunctioning device will also give inaccurate results that result in the charges. This argument supported by evidence is acceptable in getting your license retained, and the results dismissed as evidence.
There were Physiological Reasons Why Your BAC Was High
Your BAC levels are not only high because of alcohol consumption. Other reasons can result in falsely elevated BAC results. These include:
- When you are on a diet high in proteins and low in carbohydrates
- When you suffer from a medical condition such as GERD, heartburns, or acid reflux that produces elevated BAC results
- If you have residual mouth alcohol resulting in the elevated results.
In case you suffered from any of the conditions above when you submitted your breath sample for testing, it is possible you were not driving with a 0.08% BAC. When the argument is acceptable, the DMV will not suspend your license, and the charges against you in the criminal court may be dismissed.
Find a Defense Lawyer Near Me
A DUI charge can be frustrating, and the consequences even more devastating. Having a suspension on your license is hugely inconveniencing, especially when you need to drive to most places. Finding a suitable defense against the allegations is critical to your keeping your convenience and enjoying life. An experienced Manzanita DUI defense lawyer is crucial during the process of your DMV and court trial. When arrested in Manzanita, San Diego DUI Attorney is essential for your defense. Call us at 619-535-7150 to allow us to discuss your defense options.