The frustration of facing criminal charges for driving intoxicated and the penalties that follow is overwhelming. Some of the harshest penalties for a DUI in all the states are found in California. The consequences after that are equally devastating and negatively affect a defendant’s life. When impaired, it does not matter if it is by prescription medicines, over the counter pain medicines, controlled substances, or alcohol, you will face these charges.
Avoiding a conviction and these harsh consequences become the primary aim of the defendant. In other cases where the evidence is overwhelming, getting lesser penalties becomes the primary goal. However this can be facilitated through the hiring of a Mortero Palms DUI defense lawyer to represent you. If charged in Mortero Palms, the San Diego DUI Attorney will advise and represent you to beat the allegations.
What the Police Look For and How They Arrest You
One most important aspect before an officer arrests you for drunk driving is having probable cause. This means the police need to have a legally convincing reason to detain you and consequently charge you with the offense. Some reasons you may be stopped for are:
- At a DUI checkpoint – Police departments are allowed by the law to set up DUI checkpoints to arrest those driving impaired and discourage those that intend to.
- Violation of traffic rules – A police officer can stop you for any other reason, such as when you violate a traffic regulation like jumping the light or making a wrong turn. During such a stop, the officer may notice either drugs or alcohol intoxicates you.
- Your driving pattern – When you drive erratically, an officer will stop you on suspicion of intoxicated driving and carry out investigations to establish their suspicion.
These, among others, are some of the legal reasons you may be stopped and further charged with a DUI offense. You must be observant to ensure that the officer had a reason to stop you. If no lawful basis existed, you would convey the same to your Mortero Palms DUI attorney.
When the officer stops you, he or she will be looking for some of the following:
- Smell of alcohol
- Presence of alcohol bottles
- Presence of devices used in the consumption of drugs
- Slurred or incoherent talking
- If your eyes are bloodshot and watery
- If you fumble when asked for your license
These, among many others, are signs of intoxication. When an officer notices these, he or she will further ask you to perform some sobriety exams to confirm impairment. You can agree or disagree with these with no legal consequences as long as you are over 21 and are not serving DUI probation.
Whether you fail in these tests or not, or whether you agree to them or not, the officer may still find it necessary to arrest you for a DUI crime. When arrested, you are detained at the station where the law expects you to submit to a chemical DUI test. This test is typically performed on breath, blood, or urine. Again, as a perpetrator, you must be keen to observe the procedure and everything done because it is crucial to your defense. Your attorney will ask you to explain in detail everything that happened, up to when you got charged.
When you are found to have been intoxicated by testing your blood or breath, you will face charges on two offenses as well as initiate a per se hearing. The officer will take your driver’s license and write a detailed report of the process, indicating why you were stopped, and the tests carried out. Your behavior through the process and cooperation is indicated, and how you behave may determine the penalties you receive. For instance, if you fail to take the chemical tests, you violate the implied consent law. This will mean your license is automatically suspended, or you will not have a per se hearing.
A per se hearing is typically carried out at the DMV offices with a DMV officer presiding over it. During this hearing, your Mortero Palms DUI attorney is allowed to represent you. This is a hearing where you are required to convince the DMV or give them convincing reasons why they should not suspend your license. The per se hearing is independent of the criminal court hearing, and the outcome has no bearing to the court case.
If you win at your per se hearing, you will have your license back and continue driving without restrictions. However, if you lose, you will need to apply for a restricted IID license that will enable you to drive provided you fit an IID device in your cars.
Proving Your DUI Offense
After getting arrested and having charges on DUI brought against you, the prosecutor must prove you committed this offense to be convicted. The prosecutor must show you committed the offense by proving the elements of the crime beyond any doubt. These elements are:
- You were under the influence or intoxicated or impaired and
- You were operating or driving a motor vehicle when you got arrested.
The prosecutor must bring evidence to support the charges against you while your Mortero Palms DUI attorney will work tirelessly to refute the evidence.
The main reason for taking chemical tests is to prove influence. The prosecutor must show you drove with an amount of alcohol or drugs in your system beyond the legal limit. This is important to show the alcohol or drugs impaired you in your system.
Following a chemical test, the prosecutor will use results to indicate you were intoxicated. If your BAC levels are as follows, it is evidence of being under the influence. These levels are:
- BAC for a standard vehicle driver should not be at 0.08% or over
- BAC for a commercial vehicle driver should not be at 0.04% or above
- When below 21 years, you must not drive when your BAC is 0.01% or more
Additionally, if a blood chemical test showed drugs or intoxicants in your system, it is used as evidence of influence.
Your attorney can, however, challenge the BAC results from the chemical test using various strategies as discussed on the ways to beat these allegations.
For a prosecutor to convict you of the offense, he or she must prove that you were driving when you got arrested for the crime. In convincing the court of this, the jury or judge will look to see:
- If you were asleep or awake when the police came
- Whether the motor was running or not
- Where you got arrested
- Where the keys for the car were
These, among other things, will be taken into consideration before you are convicted. If you were not driving but was in the car drunk, that is not evidence of driving. Most of the evidence, in this case, will come from the arresting officer testifying on the process of the arrest. Your attorney will also find ways to show loopholes in the officer’s evidence, creating doubt that will be an advantage to you.
Types of DUI Offenses
In California, there are various types of offenses you can be charged with when found driving impaired. These types depend on your age, type of vehicle you drive, and if there were injuries or not. Typically, you will face DUI charges if you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as earlier discussed. When arrested and charged with a DUI, you will face one of the following charges:
Standard DUI Charges
These are typically against a regular driver operating a standard vehicle impaired. In this case, you may have VEH 23152(a) and VEH 23152(b) charges to face. This means you are a holder of a regular driver’s license, and you drove a regular car impaired with a BAC of 0.08% or more.
Commercial DUI Charges
These are charges only faced by individuals working as commercial vehicle drivers. In this case, you will also face similar charges as those of a standard driver for impaired driving, and another charge for driving with a 0.04% BAC.
These are charges brought against those persons arrested driving intoxicated and are below 21 years. The state of California does not tolerate underage drinking, making it unlawful to drive with a BAC of 0.01% or more.
DUI With Injuries
This offense is prosecuted as a wobbler, meaning you may face misdemeanor or felony charges. Sometimes, as a result of your DUI, you cause an accident that results in injuries, depending on your criminal past and how substantial the injuries are, the prosecutor decides how to charge you.
The penalties if you get convicted of any of the above charges are steep. This makes it essential to have a local Mortero Palms DUI attorney on your side to fight for you.
Penalties for DUI Offenses
When you are convicted of a DUI, the punishment you receive depends on the type of DUI you are charged with, whether you have a prior DUI conviction in ten years, or if injuries were caused. When you are accused of this offense three times in ten years, you receive misdemeanor penalties when no aggravating factors exist.
This means, you are likely to face:
- County jail imprisonment
- Payment of fines
- Sentenced to informal probation
- Having your license suspended by the DMV and the court
- Installation of an IID in your vehicle
When you commit the offense for the fourth time within ten years, the crime is punished as a felony. The punishments for a felony offense are harsher than those of a misdemeanor.
If you were charged on a felony for causing injuries while intoxicated driving, the penalties you face include:
- State imprisonment and additional sentence for each injured person
- Payment of fines
- Suspension of your license by the DMV and court
- Formal probation sentence
- Paying the injured parties restitution
These, among others, are the possible penalties when you are convicted of the offense. Aside from these penalties, a conviction comes with added repercussions.
Perhaps some of the harshest penalties are those given to commercial drivers when arrested for the offense and found guilty. Commercial drivers are expected to be more mindful than other drivers because they carry goods and persons from one place to another for a fee.
When a commercial driver is convicted of a DUI, the first offense will attract similar penalties as that of a standard driver. However, unlike a standard vehicle driver that can have a restricted license to keep driving, the privilege is not extended to commercial drivers. This means for the period their license is under suspension, they will not work as commercial vehicle drivers.
When the offense is repeated within ten years, a commercial driver will have their license permanently suspended, meaning they lose their job. Additionally, if they were carrying hazardous materials when they got arrested and charged with the offense, the penalties are harsher. If convicted, the driver is likely to face life imprisonment for endangering the lives of others. These penalties are stringent, making it imperative to receive a Mortero Palms DUI attorney on your side.
When a driver is below 21 and is arrested on drunk driving, the offense is an infraction but not a criminal offense. The driver will, however, have their license suspended for a year or more. However, when the driver was driving with a BAC of 0.08% or over, he or she ceases to face underage DUI charges. This driver will face standard DUI charges that will result in the penalties earlier discussed.
Other Consequences of a Driving Under the Influence Conviction
When found guilty of this offense, your life will be altered. Some of the consequences are so severe that they can affect you for a long time. These include:
- Admission to college – Before you are admitted to college, the board vets you and looks into your criminal background. With a conviction, you will be denied entry and lose your chance of furthering your education, thereby jeopardizing your future.
- Increased insurance premiums – One reason you must fight against a conviction is that when convicted, insurance companies may not want to cover you. If your company agrees to cover you, they are likely to increase your premiums. When you repeat the offense, you may fail to find a company willing to cover you, which may result in you never driving again.
- Challenges finding housing – Potential landlords are wary of leasing their property to convicted persons. Because a conviction is a public record unless expunged, a prospective landlord may refuse to rent you their apartment when they discover you have a criminal record.
- Job challenges – A person with a record is typically viewed as irresponsible and untrustworthy. When you have a criminal background, this is how a potential employer will see you making it difficult to secure a job.
- Gun rights – the state of California prohibits convicted felons from owning or having a gun. If you are convicted of felony DUI charges, you lose your right to own a firearm and must surrender it to the authorities.
Common Defenses in a DUI Case
The advantage of hiring a lawyer to defend you when charged with a DUI is that he or she will study the case and come up with various defenses. Your experienced Mortero Palms DUI attorney knows multiple ways that can help you get a favorable outcome when faced with these accusations. Some of the defense strategies include:
Challenging the Arrest
There are many things to look at during the process of arrest. Your lawyer will start by establishing if the officer had a probable reason to stop you, the arrest process and if you were read your Miranda rights. If any aspect of the arrest process was not lawful, he or she will use that as a defense and can have the charges dropped.
Challenging the Chemical Test Results
According to Title 17, there are outlined regulations on how chemical DUI tests must be conducted. These conditions must be followed without compromise to avoid wrong results. If upon studying the report and your narration of the process doubts are created, your lawyer will exploit these. If any of the procedures were violated, your attorney might request to have the results from the test thrown out as evidence. When this happens, it weakens the allegations against you, resulting in either dismissal of the charges and getting a plea deal.
Challenging the Validity of Field Sobriety Tests
The accuracy level of field sobriety tests is low to warrant a conclusion of impaired driving. Additionally, many people fail sobriety tests even when they are not intoxicated. Some of the ways to challenge these are:
- Inappropriate clothing – When one is wearing uncomfortable shoes or tight clothes, they may perform poorly during the tests even when they are sober.
- Noise – Sometimes, a person may fail because they did not hear the officer’s instructions due to the noise from the cars passing. The failure, in this case, is not an indication of intoxication.
- Poor lighting – This is more so at night. When the motorist is unable to see well, they are likely to fail the tests.
- Uneven ground – These tests are also aimed at showing if the motorist can maintain balance. When the ground is uneven, a driver will lose their balance, but it is not an indication of impairment.
Using the above defense strategies amongst many others, your lawyer will ensure at the end of your trial, you receive the best possible outcome.
Find a Defense Lawyer Near Me
No one wants to face legal penalties or consequences due to a DUI conviction. Fighting to avoid a conviction becomes the aim of any person charged with the offense. A DUI lawyer understands the legal requirements to use that may result in a win. When accused of the crime in Mortero Palms, the experienced San Diego DUI Attorney understands the best strategies to use in your defense. Contact us at 619-535-7150 for an appointment to talk about your case.