The consequences and punishments when you get a DUI conviction are stringent in California and can significantly alter your life. When you are charged for violating the law, you need to avoid the punishments or consequences that come with a conviction. This is achieved through fighting against a conviction. Sometimes, you may be mistakenly charged with this offense and receive penalties you do not deserve. Although this may seem unfair, the evidence and your arguments in disputing it are what will determine the outcome.
An experienced attorney understands the requirements to win a DUI case or ways in which to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence. When charged with this offense in Mesquite Oasis, contacting the San Diego DUI Attorney is critical to getting a favorable outcome.
Overview of DUI Laws
The state of California views a DUI offense as a priorable crime. This means that over ten years, the more you repeat the crime, the harsher the penalties become. DUI means driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. Drugs, in this case, can be prescription drugs, narcotics or over the counter medications that cause drowsiness or impairment. This means, even when you legally take medicines for a particular ailment, as long as it causes impairment or drowsiness, you should not drive. Just because the drug is to treat an illness is no excuse for driving while under its influence.
When you are stopped on the highway by an officer for any legal reason, you may end up having DUI charges brought against you. The law has set out various indicators that help officers determine whether you are impaired or not. When the officer asks you to pull over, he or she will subject you to multiple sobriety tests that have been approved to be carried out in the field. Some of these tests include:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – This test involves an officer moving a particular object horizontally and asking you to follow it with your eyes. During this exercise, the officer looks at the movement of your pupils, and if they keep jerking, it is an indication of impairment.
- One leg stands – This is another test aimed at checking your balance. If you are unable to find a balance while standing on one leg, it is also considered as an indication of impairment.
- Walk and turn – This is another commonly used test to check on impairment. During this test, you will be asked to take specific steps and abruptly turn. This test aims at checking if you can understand instructions and your coordination.
Field sobriety tests are many with these three being the most popularly used. When the officer suspects your impairment is from alcohol consumption, he or she may ask you to take a PAS test. This is carried out by asking you to blow into a handheld gadget that measures the alcohol in your breath. In most cases, drivers fail these tests leading to your arrest for additional tests. Fortunately, your Mesquite Oasis DUI attorney understands the many reasons why drivers fail and can challenge the test results to your advantage.
Once arrested, the law expects you to submit to a chemical test either using breath or blood and, in some cases, urine. Because California adheres to the rule of implied consent, if you refuse to take these tests, you increase the penalties you receive as a result. The chemical analyses are designed to confirm intoxication that caused the impairment as you drove.
When it comes to testing for drug intoxication, the law is not clear on whether the volume of drugs in one’s system is unlawful. However, a clear guideline is given on alcohol intoxication. If one is over the legal limit, they automatically trigger a per se hearing at the DMV aside from the criminal proceedings at the court. The per se hearing is triggered when:
- A regular vehicle driver was operating their vehicle with a 0.08% BAC or over.
- A holder of a commercial driver’s license was operating a common carrier vehicle with a 0.04% BAC or higher.
- A taxi driver was driving a passenger when their BAC was0.04% or higher.
When you are found intoxicated through chemical testing, the arresting officer takes your license to submit it to the DMV and issues you with a temporary one. The DMV upon receiving the report from the officer and your license notifies you of their intention to suspend your license temporarily. However, if you did not refuse the chemical test, the DMV gives you a chance to convince them against their impending decision. You will, therefore, be given ten days to ask for the administrative hearing where you will give your reasons why your license should stay and not be suspended.
One of the rights you have during this hearing is to have your Mesquite Oasis DUI attorney represent you. Your lawyer will question the evidence provided and how it was obtained. Additionally, he or she will present a convincing argument against the suspension to the DMV officer. If the DMV is convinced, your license will not be suspended. However, if they decide to go ahead with their decision, they will permit you to get a restricted license as long as your vehicle is installed with an IID device.
DUI Penalties in California
As earlier discussed, DUI punishments are harsh, and they become more stringent with every repeat of the crime. This means the penalties you receive when you commit the offense for the first time are less than those you receive on your third repeat within ten years. Typically, when you repeat the offense three times within this period, you receive misdemeanor penalties upon conviction. However, if during the crime, there were aggravating elements, the sanctions ceased to be for a misdemeanor crime but felony penalties.
A misdemeanor DUI becomes a felony when it is repeated for the fourth time within ten years, and if you significantly injured other people as a result of the offense.
The misdemeanor penalties in this case include:
- A county jail sentence running for not more than one year
- A probation sentence instead of a jail sentence
- Paying a fine of not less than $390 and not over $1,000. Additionally, you will pay other court administrative costs that can bring your total costs to $18,000.
- Attendance of a DUI school for three months in the minimum and not over thirty months
- Suspension of your license by the DMV and the court
- Receiving a sentence to install an IID in your vehicles or the vehicle that you drive.
When you have a Mesquite Oasis DUI attorney represent you, it will be possible to avoid a conviction when he or she challenges the evidence presented.
Felony conviction and penalties are, however, harsher than misdemeanor ones. These include:
- You get sentenced to jail time at the state prison, not exceeding three years. If your offense caused injuries to others, you would receive added penalties for every person that got injured as a result.
- Your fine may run to $5,000 but not below $1,015. This is besides court charges that increase the payment to $18,000
- Suspension of your license and a possibility of it getting revoked for life
- Serving formal probation instead of a jail sentence
All these penalties that you face are harsh, and the consequences thereof are even more stringent.
Other Repercussions of a DUI Conviction
Aside from the court and DMV penalties when convicted of a DUI crime, other consequences can make life challenging. Some of these are:
- Gun rights – In California, convicted felons are not allowed to carry or own guns. This means, when you get a felony DUI conviction, you must surrender your firearm to the authorities. You will also not be allowed to have one even after you serve your time.
- College admission – When one applies to college, the admissions board runs a background check on the applicant. If you have a criminal record as a result of your DUI, you are likely to miss entry to your favorite school.
- Finding housing – Before committing to rent you a house or apartment, your potential landlord will look at your credit score and criminal background. A conviction in California is a matter of public record. When a prospective landlord checks your criminal record and finds a sentence, he or she may deny you the opportunity to rent their property.
- Finding a job – It is a matter of public knowledge that individuals with a criminal record have a hard time securing a job. When a potential employer discovers you have a criminal conviction, he or she may deny you an opportunity to work for them despite your qualifications.
- Increased insurance premium – When you are charged with a DUI, a conviction sends a message that you are a high-risk client to the insurance company. Most insurance companies may deny offering you a cover, or when they do, they increase your premiums.
The only way to avoid these consequences is to prevent drunk or drugged driving. Still, when you are already facing the charges, an experienced Mesquite Oasis DUI attorney can assist in avoiding a conviction.
What is Expected of You When You’re Faced With DUI Charges
Before you are charged on DUI offenses, you will have to be stopped by an officer either at a DUI checkpoint or on the road. Additionally, you may be involved in an accident for you to be faced with these charges. There are a few things expected of you from the moment you are stopped to when at the court. These include:
- Cooperation – When an officer stops you for whatever reason, the first act of obedience is to stop. If you decline to stop, you will be involved in a chase that will result in other charges. After stopping, it is wise to cooperate with the officer. Although submitting to field sobriety tests is not a must when over 21 and are not on a DUI probation, it is good for you to obey. When you fail in these tests and become arrested for additional testing, do not resist arrest even when you are sure you are not intoxicated.
- Chemical Tests – Once at the station, you must continue to cooperate by submitting to chemical testing. Refusal of these tests will enhance your penalties, with one of the harshest ones being the automatic suspension of your license. You need to note how the whole procedure is carried out and reporting it to your Mesquite Oasis DUI attorney. Your lawyer knows how to use the information you give them to come up with successful defense strategies.
- Gather evidence – This is important, especially when involved in an accident. It becomes easily assumed that an intoxicated driver is always at fault when it is not always the case. There are many causes of an accident, and knowing the actual cause may prevent some of the harsh penalties, such as paying restitution.
- Hire a defense attorney – One of the most important things you should do when facing these allegations is to hire a defense attorney. Although it is not a must to have legal representation, not having one is not a wise decision. The role of an attorney in your defense is invaluable, as we outlined below.
Why You Need a Defense Attorney
If you want to avoid a conviction or get excellent and favorable results, it is best to hire a DUI defense attorney. Your lawyer will do some of the following things to ensure you get the best representation during your trial. These are:
Analyzing Police Reports
When you are arrested on a criminal charge, the arresting officer must issue a report of the arrest. This includes the reason you were stopped and all that happened until when you were charged. Some things can be used in your defense in the report that your lawyer can spot, and you cannot. Your lawyer to give you excellent representation will study the report and ensure all the legal procedures were followed, leading to your arrest.
Some of the things your lawyer will notice are the reasons why you got stopped, how the preliminary tests were carried out, and the results. These will enable the officer to know if you got legally arrested and if the correct procedure was followed during the arresting process.
Analyzing and Preparing Your Statement
During the trial, your lawyer will allow you to testify on your behalf if your evidence helps with your case. When the evidence may result in self-incrimination, your lawyer will advise against it and help you prepare a suitable statement. Your lawyer will also analyze the information you gathered during the whole process. This will include:
- Whether you were intoxicated and what you had taken
- If you have an underlying medical condition that may have alleviated the BAC results
- Your version of the arresting process and the process of chemical testing
- If you were read for your Miranda rights
- The information you gathered at the accident to determine the cause of your accident
Through analyzing your evidence and your side of the story, your lawyer can strategize on your defense. For instance, if you were not read for your Miranda rights, this is a violation that can have the case dismissed.
When faced with a DUI charge, the prosecutor may offer plea bargains that will involve your admission to a lesser offense for a reduced sentence. Your lawyer is well placed to advise you on whether taking the plea bargain is best for you or not after analyzing the prosecutor’s evidence or case.
Your Mesquite Oasis DUI attorney can also initiate the plea bargain after discussing with you the available options. Most plea bargains result in more favorable outcomes for you. You may not know the best plea bargains or not understand the law, yet your lawyer will assist you in deciding.
Scrutinizing the Chemical Test Procedure
The law dictates how chemical tests must be carried out to determine the level of intoxication. These procedures and regulations are found under Title 17 in California. Your lawyer will scrutinize to see if the procedures were followed as they should. Some of the things he or she will be looking at include:
- Whether the officer observed the rule of constantly monitoring you for fifteen minutes straight. This is important to prevent you from eating, drinking, regurgitating, or vomiting. All these activities typically increase your mouth residue alcohol, which can lead to falsely increased alcohol levels in your breath.
- When your blood is drawn for testing, a sample for later testing must be kept. Your lawyer will observe if this was done. If there was a report of contaminated blood or if the sample that was kept got contaminated, it is a defense strategy.
When any irregularities are observed in the chemical test procedure, the results from it can be challenged. Your lawyer can ask for the results not to be used against you as evidence and, in effect weakening the prosecutor’s case.
Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
After discussing the various outcomes of a DUI case and the consequences that follow, your aim should be to avoid a conviction as much as possible. Even when a conviction is inevitable, you can be sentenced to lesser penalties when a convincing argument is presented before the court. An experienced attorney can assist you in getting your desired outcome based on the circumstances of your offense. When charged with this offense in Mesquite Oasis, calling San Diego DUI Attorney is critical to your case. Contact us at 619-535-7150 and schedule an appointment to discuss your defense.