Every person wants to go out and have a good time, and in the process, most people engage in behaviors that may later get them in trouble. Some beverages consumed, such as alcohol, are not illegal and bring people together for a good time. The behaviors, however, become unlawful when they endanger your life and that of others. During recreation time, some people consume alcohol or drugs for pleasure or medicinal purposes. However, if you consume these things and operate a motor vehicle in California, you are violating the law and will be charged with a DUI offense.
California continues to have some of the harshest penalties when convicted of this offense. However, finding a lawyer that understands DUI laws is critical in overcoming the allegations. If facing these charges in Rincon, a local San Diego DUI Attorney can offer assistance in your defense.
How You Get Arrested
One of the most important things to remember is that an arrest must be made according to the law. This means, throughout the process, you must be keen to narrate what happens to your local Rincon DUI Attorney because a violation of the law may be your defense.
During a routine police patrol, one can get arrested for a DUI. If a police officer notices your erratic driving pattern on the highway, it may mean you are impaired. The officer will ask you to pull over and proceed to investigate for signs of impairment. If the officer smells alcohol on your breath or sees empty alcohol bottles, he or she will believe you were drinking before you got behind the wheel. If your speech is incoherent or slurred or is clumsy reaching for the license as well as having bloodshot eyes, these are all signs of impairment.
When the officer notices this, he or she will ask you to perform some sobriety tests administered by the roadside. The officer can also ask you to breathe into a gadget that is held by hand to measure your blood alcohol content. All these things are within the law, and your cooperation is essential. Through these activities, the officer may conclude that you are impaired and arrest you.
From the station, it is where you get charged for violating the law. However, before the charges are preferred against you, the officers must carry out further investigations. These are necessary to determine the exact level of impairment and what has caused the impairment or what intoxicant it is. This is critical because one has to be charged with the correct offense. For instance, when drugs intoxicate one, the particular statute violated is not that of alcohol impairment. If the officer charges you with the wrong crime, it can be grounds for a dismissal of the case.
At the station, you are required to take chemical tests. These tests are not an option because of the implied consent law. It is also essential to understand that your refusal will not mean you will not get charged with the offense; on the contrary, it will enhance the penalties you receive upon conviction. The chemical tests include submitting a sample of blood, breath, or urine.
When impaired with drugs, there is no legal measure that determines the level that is too high to drive. This means, if you displayed signs of impairment and your blood showed you have intoxicants from any drug, you can be found guilty of a DUI in California. On the other hand, the law gives guidelines for the amount of alcohol in your system that may result in these charges. Further, the state has categorized what levels must be present in specific drivers for them to get charged with the offense. These guidelines indicate that:
- A regular vehicle driver must not drive with 0.08% or higher of alcohol in their system
- A driver below the age of 21 should not drink and drive according to the law of zero-tolerance of underage drinking. If they operate with 0.01% or more alcohol in their system, they violate the law
- Holders of commercial vehicle driver’s licenses are also prohibited from driving when their BAC is at 0.04% or above
From these guidelines, it means that if your BAC is below 0.08% as a regular driver, you can drive your car. However, if you display signs of impairment on the road, even when your BAC is within legal limits, you will still be charged with a DUI. When your BAC, however, is above the legal limit, you receive two charges instead of one. This means, you get charged with impaired driving according to VEH 23152(a) for alcohol impairment and VEH 23152(b) for having a BAC of 0.08% or more.
The same case applies to other types of drivers. If you do not surpass the legal alcohol limit, you can operate your vehicle as long as you do not display signs of impairment. If you are impaired, however, you will get charged with a DUI offense in California.
Drug intoxication, however, does not indicate the illegal quantity. If impaired by drugs and were driving, you receive one charge as opposed to a person driving under alcohol influence. For instance, if you smoked pot and operated, you face charges for violating VEH 23152(f) only.
The penalties and eventual consequences following a conviction are harsh. This makes it crucial for one to avoid a conviction by developing smart defenses against the allegations. An experienced local Rincon DUI Attorney can study your case and establish these defenses on your behalf.
Various DUI Offenses and Their Penalties
As earlier stated, a DUI charge means you have violated one of the statutes as found under VEH 23152. But, regardless of the particular law, you have broken, the penalties for the first three offenses in ten years attract misdemeanor penalties. From this, it means that DUI offenses are priorable with the sentences based on a prior DUI offense committed.
This means if any of your first three offenses are not felonies, the misdemeanor penalties include:
- A minimum of two days in county jail to 365 days
- A cash fine of not less than $390 which can increase to $18,000 depending on the penalty assessment fees charged
- Misdemeanor probation with particular conditions for three years to five years
- A license suspension for a minimum of four months by the DMV, to a maximum of two years,
- A court-imposed driver license suspension for not less than a year to three years
- Fitting of an IID in your vehicle or all the vehicles you drive to enable you to get a restricted license to continue operating while your license is suspended
- Attending a DUI education program for three months to a maximum of thirty months
The above penalties are already harsh and only apply to those that have committed the offense three times in ten years. Fighting against a conviction makes it even more critical to avoid the penalties and to graduate the offense into a felony. A Rincon DUI Attorney will have many strategies, with one of them being plea bargains to avoid the harsh penalties.
If a simple DUI offense is repeated for the fourth time in ten years, it automatically attracts felony penalties. A DUI offense can also be a felony even when it is the first time you have committed it. This typically happens when injuries to a third party resulting from your DUI. For instance, you were carrying a passenger in your vehicle while intoxicated and got into an accident. If the accident was due to your impaired driving and the passenger got significantly injured, you face felony charges.
Causing an injury due to intoxicated driving is a wobbler in California. When the injuries are significant, or you have a prior DUI conviction, you face felony charges for DUI resulting in injuries. The punishments for a felony DUI are harsher than those of a misdemeanor. These include:
- Formal probation with harsh conditions
- Fines of not less than $1,015 in addition to other court fees
- State jail sentence of not less than 16 months to a maximum of 36 months. Additionally, you serve other consecutive jail sentences for every person you injured as a result
- You will be asked to pay the injured persons for damages caused
- Your license will get suspended with a possibility of permanent revocation
These punishments are harsh, but with an experienced attorney, you can fight for lesser charges that attract lower penalties.
The penalties when one is a commercial vehicle driver are even harsher. Unfortunately, a commercial driver will not get a restricted license to continue working even with a first misdemeanor DUI. Until the suspension period is over, the commercial driver cannot apply to get their license back. This means with your first offense; you must look for an alternative way to earn a living.
A repeat of the offense as a commercial driver earns you harsher penalties. When convicted for a second time, your license gets permanently revoked. Remember, the crime does not have to be a felony to earn these punishments. The reason for this is because commercial drivers are tasked with sensitive duties, those of transporting people and goods for a fee. These duties make their penalties harsher than those of a regular driver.
A commercial vehicle driver has a lot at stake if convicted of the offense. Getting a local Rincon DUI Attorney familiar with DUI laws is one of the best ways to try and avoid the harsh penalties.
Plea Deals in DUI Cases
The primary focus, when charged with this offense, is to avoid a conviction or to get lesser penalties. This is also the main focus of your attorney. It is achieved by providing their client with the best possible solutions to their predicament. One of the strategies defense lawyers employ is to get their client's plea deals aside from formulating defenses.
A plea bargain or deal in DUI cases comes as a result of discussions between your defense lawyer and the prosecution. A plea deal is discussed to avoid going into a trial, and it is beneficial to a defendant in two ways. These are:
- A plea bargain helps reduce your possible sentence or
- It helps reduce the charges you face
Both these are excellent outcomes for a defendant based on the circumstances of their offense. However, before deciding to make a deal, careful consideration must be taken. Your Rincon DUI Attorney will study the prosecutor’s case against you and the strength of their evidence. Your history will also matter in this case. Earlier, we discussed a DUI offense being priorable. In this case, you stand to face harsher penalties if you already have a conviction from a previous crime. This may make it even more appealing to take a plea deal and avoid severe penalties.
If you have a high tolerance for taking risks, you may opt for a trial. It is not always clear how the outcome of a hearing will be, but with a bargain deal, you always know what to expect. All these are factors your attorney will present to you, and you can make the best suitable decision.
Why You Should Consider Sentence Reduction
Sometimes, a prosecutor may refuse to reduce the charges you are facing, especially when the evidence is strong against you. However, he or she may be willing to offer a sentence reduction deal. This is where you agree to plead guilty to the DUI offense you are charged with, in exchange with a reduced sentence.
This means, instead of going through a trial, you take this deal at the beginning, and instead of maybe a possible jail sentence, you are sentenced to probation. However, a reduction of a sentence does not mean the offense is not priorable. You will still have a conviction in your record, which will be considered if you repeated the crime another time.
The main benefit of taking a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence is that you know your punishment well in advance. For instance, if you decide to go on trial, a guilty verdict may mean a jail sentence and a hefty fine, but with a plea deal, it may mean just a fine or probation. A plea deal works to eliminate the worst possible outcome in your trial by giving you the best sentence you can get.
Why is Charge Reduction Better than a Trial?
This kind of a plea deal means you get charged with a lesser offense than that of a DUI. This is the better option in DUI plea deals or bargains. It is, however, not easy for a defendant to get this deal unless you have committed the offense for the first time, and no injuries resulted. Sometimes, however, it is possible to get your charges reduced even with a repeat offense or when you cause harm.
Based on the offense you are charged with, some of the benefits you stand to gain when your charges are reduced include:
- Whereas a guilty verdict in a DUI offense leads to a mandatory suspension of your license, with reduced charges, there is no mandatory requirement to suspend your license
- The fines you get charged are significantly lower
- If you get any jail time, it is minimal, but many times not imposed
- A standard DUI offense requires attending a DUI education program when found guilty
- However, with reduced charges, it is not a mandatory requirement
- Some charges will not result in a priorable offense
- A DUI conviction comes with a lot of stigmas that affect the rest of your life. However, a lesser charge may not attract that kind of disgrace
- When one gets convicted on a DUI charge, the insurance company finds him or her to be a high-risk client. This means the premiums one pays becomes high, with some insurance companies refusing to over them cover in totality. When found guilty on a reduced charge, these consequences may not be experienced
Popular Charge Reductions in DUI Cases
When your Rincon DUI Attorney engages the prosecutor in a charge reduction negotiation, he or she is looking at getting you charged with one of the following:
The prosecutor always considers wet reckless as the first option. This is a charge where the defendant will be charged with reckless driving but has a note indicating the offense included drugs or alcohol. When you get convicted on a wet reckless charge, you have certain advantages that include:
- In case of a jail sentence, it gets significantly reduced
- You will get charged lesser fines and
- The court may not order your license to be suspended. However, this does not affect the decision by the DMV to suspend your license. If the DMV suspends your license, you can apply to get a restricted license, but you must fit your vehicle with an IID
With a dry reckless charge, you get convicted on reckless driving, but there will be no mention of either alcohol or drugs in your record. The advantages of getting charged with this offense instead include:
- The offense is not a priorable one. This means if it were your first offense, a repeat of the crime would not consider it because your record will not show a prior DUI offense.
- Insurance companies may not consider you a high-risk client meaning your premiums may remain the same.
Plea bargains are considered excellent outcomes, especially in California, where guilty verdicts in DUI cases carry strict penalties.
Find a Defense Attorney Near Me
A guilty outcome in a DUI case can be devastating for any person. When faced with these charges, the primary objective is to escape a conviction or at least receive lenient penalties. With the stringent penalties for these charges, you need the services of an experienced lawyer to overcome the allegations. When charged in Rincon, contacting the San Diego DUI Attorney is critical in your getting the results you desire. Find us at 619-535-7150 for a comprehensive discussion of your case and development of smart defenses.