DUI laws in California are very stiff as the states put efforts into discouraging impaired driving. After an arrest for DUI, you expect the DMV to be attempting to suspend your license while the prosecutor tries to bring criminal charges against you in court. Any of these legal proceedings can have severe consequences if you are found guilty. Fortunately, the San Diego DUI Attorney is ready to defend you. Our local Ocotillo Wells DUI Attorney will provide legal assistance whenever you are facing DUI allegations.
Various statutes have been put in place in California to enhance road safety while operating a motor car. An example of such laws is the DUI law that forbids drunk driving. The law prohibits drivers from driving when they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more in their blood. For commercial drivers, the designated limit is at most .04%, while for underage drivers, the legal limit doesn’t exceed .01%. Whenever you operate a vehicle with a BAC higher than the legal limit, you may be deemed to be DUI.
The law presumes that whenever your BAC surpasses the legal limit, you are incapable of making sound decisions or exercising defensive driving the same way a reasonable or sober person would do under similar circumstances.
After an arrest, both the court and DMV will check your DUI look-back period to determine your punishment. Take note that the look-back duration for drunk or drugged charges in California is one hundred and twenty months. It means that when determining your penalties, the decision by the two legal proceedings will be based on your prior DUI offenses during the look-back period. The more arrests you have, the more the penalties because drunk driving is a priorable offense.
Drivers are encouraged to avoid the consequences of this offense by getting a designated driver whenever they are planning to drink before going home. Remember that even if you take only a few alcoholic drinks thinking that it is safe to do so, you may still be charged with DUI even if the concentration of alcohol in your blood doesn’t surpass the legal limit. So, you are encouraged to think about the consequences of DUI before getting behind the wheel after taking a few drinks for the road.
The DUI Process
The majority of drunk driving arrests in California begin with a traffic stop either at a sobriety DUI checkpoint or when an officer notices you committing a traffic offense or when you are about to commit a traffic violation. The reason for the traffic stop is known as probable cause.
After being stopped, the officer will look for a reasonable suspicion to conduct a breath or field sobriety tests. The FSTs aim to determine if you are capable of following instructions and whether or not you can maintain stability. The officer will also ask you to blow a breathalyzer twice to find out the amount of alcohol in your breath. Take note that refusal to submit to a chemical test will subject you to drunk driving penalties and an additional 12 months of driving privileges suspension.
If you fail the FSTs or the breath test results indicate your BAC exceeds the legal limit, the police officer will have a reason to make an arrest. The officer will then recite the Miranda rights before booking you to the nearest police station. If the officer wants to conduct further investigations, he or she will drive you to the closest hospital or police station where additional chemical tests will be done.
Before the officer prepares the report, you will be released if the offense is a misdemeanor. If your DUI resulted in injuries or is a felony, you must post bail to get out. During the release, the officer will issue you with a citation requiring you to appear in court and a pink document that acts as a temporary license. Before being issued with the temporary license, the officer will confiscate your original driver’s license and send it to the DMV. Take note that if you are an out of state driver, the officer cannot seize your physical license.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to worry whenever your physical license is confiscated. The reason being since 2019, drunk driving arrestees can apply for an IID right away after an arrest. It means you don’t have to worry about restricted driving because, with the device fitted in your car, you can drive without restrictions. The duration you will have the IID depends on your criminal history on your look-back period.
One of the chemical tests you can expect after an arrest is the DUI blood test. A certified technician will draw two blood samples. One of these samples is for storage as per Title 17, while the other sample is for testing. One of the blood samples is stored for future use by the defense attorney if they are not satisfied with results from the first DUI blood test.
Take note that the sample that goes for testing must also follow title 17 regulations because the prosecution uses the results of the tests as evidence against you. The officer will then use the results obtained from the tests to prepare a police report. The report is later submitted to the local prosecutor. In the report, the officer narrates the events and nature of the investigation and arrest. After evaluating the report, the prosecutor decides if to take up the case or not.
In case the prosecutor decides to press charges, you will be arraigned in court to take a plea. Some of the things you should expect in the arraignment include:
- The judge handling your case will read the formal charges against you
- The court will inform you of your constitutional rights
- You will enter a plea to the charges
- Bail hearing
Take note that the arraignment should happen 48 hours after your arrest, except for weekends. At the time of appearance, you will have the following constitutional rights:
- Representation by an attorney
- The right to avoid saying anything that will be self-incriminating
- The right to a quick trial
- Right to a jury trial
- Right to bring and cross-examine witnesses
Once you have taken a plea, the prosecuting attorney might offer you a plea deal. Your Ocotillo Wells DUI Attorney might request a deferred entry to judgment. This means that you agree to take part in a diversion program so that after completion, the court will throw out the charges.
If your arrest was for a felony drunk or drugged driving charge, bail hearing might occur during the arraignment. You should understand that bail hearing during court appearance is different from a bail hearing expressly set to discuss your eligibility for bail.
The court will determine the amount of bail based on the following:
- The circumstances surrounding your arrest
- Your criminal past
- Your relationship with society
- The threat or risk you pose to the community
- Your capability to post bail
- The California bail schedule
Upon granting or denial of bail, the court will set a date for the next hearing.
Your Ocotillo Wells DUI Attorney should request for a DMV hearing as part of the DUI process. The request for an administrative hearing should happen ten days after your physical license has been confiscated and mailed to the DMV. Not requesting the hearing means you forfeit your rights to this legal proceeding. The DMV will automatically suspend your license after 30 days. But if you ask for one within the ten days window, the automatic suspension of your license will be suspended until the conclusion of the case by the DMV.
The advantage of the DMV proceedings is that with an attorney, you don’t have to make an appearance. The attorney can make all the appearances on your behalf. The main objective of your Ocotillo Wells DUI Attorney is to convince the DMV officer not to suspend your license. The hearing might also allow the attorney to gather evidence that may prove useful during the criminal proceedings.
After the hearing, it takes between one to thirty days before a verdict is out. The judgment is usually in written form and might be mailed to your attorney. One crucial thing you should understand about the DMV hearing is that it is meant for drivers arrested for drunk driving. If your arrest were as a result of drugged driving, there would be no DMV hearing. But upon conviction in court for DUI of drugs, your license will be automatically suspended.
After the DMV hearing, the case enters the pretrial stage. This is usually the most protracted process in a DUI case because it can go on for months. It is at this phase that both the prosecution and the defense collect their evidence on the matter. Both parties examine witnesses and collect their testimonies regarding the events that resulted in the DUI arrest. The judge then orders the prosecution to share the evidence they have against you with your Ocotillo Wells DUI Attorney.
Once your attorney evaluates the evidence against you by the prosecution, he or she can go forward and file a motion to suppress if the evidence wasn’t collected as per the regulations. If the prosecutor still believes that they have strong evidence, they will reaffirm the strength of the case. But if they feel the evidence is weak, they will agree to a plea deal. The majority of DUI cases end in the pretrial stage after a charge reduction, dismissal of the charge or lenient sentencing.
If the prosecutor and your Ocotillo DUI Attorney fail to agree, the case goes to trial. If you prefer a jury trial, the process will begin with the selection of a jury. The opposing parties will then present their evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make their closing statements.
No matter how strong the prosecution’s evidence is, if your attorney uses the right defense strategies, the outcome of your case will be favorable. Some of the defenses you can use include:
- Illegal traffic stops or sobriety checkpoints
- Inaccurate FSTs
- Inaccurate chemical tests
- Rising blood alcohol
- Mouth alcohol
- You were not driving
After you have defended against the evidence presented to the court by the prosecution, the jury will take time to review the evidence presented and give a verdict. Remember that in DUI cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. As such, they are the party that should prove beyond reasonable certainty to the court that you were DUI for you to earn a conviction. But if the jury fails to come into an agreement on the verdict, the prosecution may file a motion to reopen the case.
Even if the motion is registered against you, there is no need for worry because your Ocotillo Wells DUI Attorney will fight the move so that the court can remove it.
Upon sentencing for drunk or drugged driving, you will be subject to several penalties that include incarceration, fines, license suspension, and probation. Even after sentencing, your Ocotillo DUI Attorney can still prove useful with post-sentencing processes like expunging the conviction, acquiring SR-22, and adhering to the terms of probation. For this reason, retaining the services of an experienced drunk driving attorney is always a great idea.
Reduction of Drunk or Drugged Driving Charges and Sentencing
The reduction of DUI charges means a lot more than you might think. After a charge reduction, it means the sentence will be reduced, plus you will pay lesser court fines. In some instances, charge reduction means no probation or incarceration. If your drunk driving defense attorney has been practicing for a long time, then they will understand the need for a plea deal before the case gets to trial and how to negotiate with the prosecution by poking holes in their evidence to find weaknesses.
During a plea deal, the prosecution offers you a reduced charge on the condition that you plead guilty to DUI. A plea deal is an advantage to the defendant, primarily because of the uncertainty involved if the case proceeds to trial. But some of the reasons a prosecuting attorney will agree to a plea deal include:
- Where the traffic stop was illegal, or DUI checkpoint failed to meet the required legal standards.
- If the evidence tabled before the court by the prosecution isn’t adequate to show you were driving.
- Chemical tests were administered incorrectly
- Inadequate evidence
If the prosecution finds itself in any of the above situations, they are likely to offer you any of the following charge reductions:
The majority of drunk driving charges are reduced to wet reckless. Although the offense is a priorable one and a conviction appears in your record, it comes with several merits. You will get reduced jail time and court fines. Additionally, you may get to retain your driving privileges even after conviction.
The offense is different from wet reckless because it doesn’t appear in your record that you were DUI. It focuses on the fact that you were driving recklessly but doesn’t mention drugs or alcohol. The offense is not a priorable one, and a conviction doesn’t affect your car insurance. Prosecutors often charge it as a misdemeanor.
Exhibition of Speed
If your attorney finds out that the prosecution has weak evidence, it will be easy to negotiate a lesser charge of speed exhibition. The offense is a misdemeanor, and a conviction carries a jail sentence, probation, and fines. However, the advantage of the offense is that compared to other DUI convictions, it has no social stigma, and the punishment for the offense is lower.
Drunk in Public
The charge reduction works best if the arresting officer cannot prove that you were driving at the time of arrest, although you were drunk. In such a case, the DUI charge will be reduced to drunk in public, which is not a driving-related offense.
If the court realizes that there were multiple breaches of title 17 regulations during the investigation, and the prosecutor cannot validate the results, they will lower the charge to a traffic infraction. A conviction for the offense only involves fines and no jail time.
Apart from the typical DUI penalties like probation, incarceration, and license suspension, a conviction can have other consequences. Some of these consequences include:
If you are trying to apply for a job, especially as a driver, a DUI conviction will eliminate you as a candidate.
An arrest and sentence for drunk driving can affect the way colleagues look at you. Additionally, if DUI is against your employer’s policy, you might end up losing your job. If you are a commercial driver and your CDL is suspended, it means you lose the source of your livelihood.
Insurance companies increase your premium rates if you have a DUI conviction on your record. They assume that drunk driving increases the risk of being involved in an accident, and they are the ones to be paying for the damages. If they classify you as a high-risk driver, they will increase your insurance premiums, cancel the current policy, or refuse to sell you an auto insurance policy.
Renting or Leasing
Many people don’t believe that a DUI record on their history can affect renting or leasing of property. However, this is true because some landlords run some background checks on their potential tenants. If they come across a criminal record for drunk driving, they deny you admission to the property.
Keep in mind that some consequences are avoidable, but with the help of a DUI Defense Attorney.
Find the Right DUI Attorney Near Me
California DUI laws and legal defenses are not natural for a layperson to understand. For this reason, you should retain the services of the San Diego DUI Attorney. Our attorneys have knowledge and expertise of DUI legal proceedings hence increase your chances of the outcome of the case being in your favor. Reach out to us at 619-535-7150 to talk to our attorneys in Ocotillo wells.