California DUI laws make it a crime for all motorists to operate a car under drug or alcohol influence. For this law, you are considered to be intoxicated if the level of your blood and breath alcohol exceeds the set legal limit. Also, if the use of the drugs influences your overall driving behavior, you can be arrested and charged with a drunk driving offense. In California, DUI is likely to attract additional charges for other crimes you commit when driving under the drug’s influence. If you suffer conviction for a crime arising as a result of DUI, you will be subjected to a series of severe legal penalties. Therefore, it would be wise to have reliable defense from the San Diego DUI Attorney when battling the charges.
Penalties for Drunk Driving
Drunk driving is considered a severe offense in California. If you get convicted for this offense, you will be faced with severe legal and personal consequences. The seriousness of these consequences is greatly affected by some aggravating and mitigating factors. Common DUI penalties include:
Jail or Prison Sentence
If you get convicted for a first offense DUI in California, you may face a sentence ranging between forty-eight hours and six months. However, with the help of a knowledgeable Rosemont DUI Attorney, you can get probation instead of jail time. When drunk driving is charged as a misdemeanor, a second and third offense attracts a two and three years jail sentence consecutively.
When an accident occurs as a result of DUI, you will possibly face felony charges. This will result in a four years maximum prison sentence depending on the severity of the injuries you caused. Also, a high number of injured victims causes a more harsh prison sentence.
A penalty for DUI conviction, you will be required to serve probation. The probation period varies depending on your criminal record. For a first offense, you will be subjected to a three years informal probation with a three months DUI school as a probation condition. If you get convicted for a second offense, the period of DUI School is increased to thirty months. On the other hand, a third and subsequent offense attracts five-year probation.
Drunk driving attracts other serious penalties like DUI murder. If you caused severe bodily injuries to another person while drunk driving, you will get subjected to felony probation which has the following terms:
- The requirement to regularly check in with the probation officer
- Mandatory submission to drug and alcohol tests when required to do so
- Victim restitution where you pay damages to all victims that suffered injuries as a result of your drunk driving behavior
- An agreement to serve some hours of community service
- Avoid involvement in any crimes during the probation period.
Should you violate any term of probation, your probation may be revoked, and you could serve a prison sentence. If you are subjected to felony probation for a DUI offense, drunk driving will be termed as a violation of the terms.
A drunk driving case can be an expensive situation to navigate. This is a result of all the costs you incur from the time you get arrested for the conviction. For a first DUI criminal charge, the court may order fines ranging from $350 to $1000.Also, the penalty assessment fees will cause an increase in the amount you pay. Should you cause injuries to a third party in a DUI accident, the fines could total up to $5,000.This is because DUI with injuries can be charged as a felony if death or serious bodily injury occurred.
More often than not, drunk driving will result in fatal traffic accidents. This will cause you to be charged with other offenses concerning DUI. During the sentencing of a DUI criminal case, the presence of injured victims will cause enhanced penalties for the crime. Also, you will be required to make victim restitution. Restitution is the amount you pay to the victims of an accident you caused as compensation for their injuries.
If your drunk driving resulted in death, you might be required to compensate the family of the deceased. The court will have the task to determine the amount you pay as restitution. In this case, the payment will become part of your probation sentence. You could either pay the victims all at once or make a plan to make installment payments. Drunk driving is not always an indication that you are responsible for the accidents in which you are involved. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that you only compensate victims if it is proven that you are liable for the accident.
Attendance to DUI Rehabilitation Programs
When you are facing DUI charges, you may be ordered to DUI School regardless of whether you get convicted for DUI or are offered a wet reckless bargain. If you get convicted for wet reckless or underage DUI, you will be required to spend at least twelve hours in DUI School. However, other DUI offenses require a three months attendance to DUI School. There are other alcohol education and rehabilitation programs the court will require you to take following a drunk driving conviction.
DUI laws are applicable to both civilian drivers and members of the military. If you get convicted for military DUI, you will face severe legal penalties. Also, you are likely to encounter other consequences, such as a pay cut.
Dishonorable discharge is among the most shameful penalties you receive as a service member if you get convicted for drunk driving in a court-martial. This will cause you to lose all the privileges that you accrue from being a member of the military. However, the discharge will be put into effect after you are proven guilty for a serious offense resulting from DUI. Therefore, your Rosemont DUI Attorney can help you avoid a DUI conviction and discharge.
License Suspension for DUI
Getting your license suspended is among the harshest penalties a driver can receive following a DUI related conviction. When your license gets suspended, you cannot use it to operate, and in the event you do, you may be arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license. There are several ways in which your license could get suspended during the whole DUI process.
Suspension by the DMV
A conviction for drunk driving is not necessary for license suspension to go into effect. The DMV attempts to make a suspension immediately. They are notified of the arrest. However, the process is not automatic unless you fail to take blood tests. Immediately you get arrested, you will be given a notice of a suspension that will happen in thirty days.
You are allowed a ten-day period to request a DMV hearing where you can fight to keep your license. When you fail to request the hearing within the stipulated time, the DMV will go ahead and impose a license suspension. However, when you can get a hearing, you will be able to defend yourself. The motor vehicle department of California is not concerned with the criminal offense for which you were accused, but instead, you’re driving privileges. Therefore, the proof required at the DMV hearing is less compared to the DUI criminal case.
The hearing is less formal and is presided over by a DMV hearing officer. With the help of your attorney, you can present several defenses to help you contest the suspension. Also, you will be allowed an opportunity to question the evidence brought against you and cross-examine the witnesses from the prosecution side. You can either lose or win a hearing, which is a decision to be made by the hearing officer.
If you are fortunate enough to win, the suspension will be set aside until the outcome of your DUI case is known. A loss in the DMV hearing will result in the suspension of your license for four months for a first DUI and one year if it is your second DUI.
Suspension Triggered by the Court
Suspension of your driver's license is one of the penalties that accompany a DUI related conviction. A first DUI offense will attract a six months court imposed license suspension. The court triggered license suspension for a second DUI that occurs within ten years of a first offense is two years. However, the court will not suspend the license but will instead notify the motor vehicle department who are responsible for limiting your driving privileges.
If you don’t get convicted for the drunk driving criminal case, the administrative license suspension will get reversed. License suspension can have a significant impact on your life since you may need to find an alternative means to travel. Therefore, it would be wise to enlist the guidance of a Rosemont DUI Attorney to avoid a conviction and license suspension.
SR22 Requirement After a DUI Conviction in California
An SR22 is an insurance certificate filed with the DMV by your motor vehicle insurance providers. The SR22 form is used to certify that you have met the auto insurance coverage requirements for the State of California. If you get convicted for drunk driving or a related offense, your driving privileges will be limited in a license suspension or revocation. You can also lose your license by failing to take chemical tests and losing your DMV hearing. You will be expected to produce this form so you can get a license reinstatement or obtain an IID.
In California, you are mandated to maintain the SR22 for at least three years. Also, the proof of insurance needs to cover all vehicles that you drive routinely. When you get arrested for DUI, your license gets confiscated, and you will receive a notice of an upcoming license suspension in thirty days following the arrest. If your license ends up getting suspended, you can continue driving by getting a restricted permit. There are two kinds of limited license offered by the motor vehicle department, including:
Regular Restricted Driver’s License
Whether your license gets suspended after losing the DMV hearing or as a result of a DUI conviction, you may qualify for the restricted license. When you receive the regular limited license, you can drive to work, school, or in search of medical care. However, you are required to meet the following requirements:
- Obtain an SR22 form
- Get an enrollment to DUI School
- Pay a reissuance fee amounting to $125
Ignition Interlock Device Restricted License
The DMV can allow you to continue operating with a restricted license on the condition that you install an IID device. The role of this device is to measure the alcohol content in your breath as you drive. All results taken by this device are sent to the DMV and which ensures you follow the DUI laws. However, it is vital to understand that filing an SR22 is a requirement you need to fulfill so you can exploit this privilege.
If you are aware that you will plead guilty to DUI charges, you need to be quick to obtain the SR22 insurance. This is because pleading guilty will result in a conviction and subsequent license suspension.
When you want to obtain the SR22, you must contact your motor vehicle, the insurance provider. The company will check out your DMV records to certify the reason behind you asking for the form. Unfortunately, during the search, they will come across your DUI case and conviction. Sometimes our insurance provider may fail to provide the document but instead cancel your policy. In this case, you may need to obtain it elsewhere at a higher premium cost. However, if they think your DUI history is not alarming, you will be issued with the SR22.
The costs you incur when obtaining an SR22 vary from one insurance company to another and the nature of our insurance policy. If your insurance provider agrees to issue the form, you are likely to lose your good driver’s discount for at least ten years after the DUI violation. If you happen to move from California to a state that requires proof of insurance, you will be required to obtain another form from your new location.
The DMV requires you to maintain the SR22 status for three years. However, you do not need to file each year as long as your insurance provider doesn’t cancel your insurance policy. If your plan gets canceled within the three years, you have to obtain another SR22 from a different company to avoid a new suspension of your license. If you need help to get an SR22 after a DUI conviction, you should contact a Rosemont DUI Attorney for guidance.
Defenses you Can Present in a DUI Trial
The penalties for DUI can be severe, especially when you are involved in an accident. It is apparent that you want to fight the charges, and you should understand the following defenses that could apply to your case:
Dispute the Fact that You were Driving
Most DUI cases target the fact that you were drunk driving. However, proof that you were operating a vehicle is required before a DUI conviction is made. In cases where the police did not see you on the wheel, you can argue that you were not driving the vehicle.
There wasn’t a Probable Cause to Arrest You
When you are facing a DUI case, the prosecutor will be required to show that the arresting officer had probable cause to do so. A probable cause is a reason to believe that your driving conduct was influenced by alcohol. The presence of a DUI stop does not make an arrest proper. If you can prove that you did exhibit any behavior to prompt an arrest, you can use this defense for your DUI case.
Challenging the Arresting Officers Testimony
In California, the testimony from the arresting officer is a crucial part of your case. This testimony is often based on your conduct and appearance at the time of the arrest. If you can find faulty in the legitimacy of this testimony, you can create reasonable doubt in the case. This can be done by the introduction of witnesses who saw things differently. Also, you can question how the chemical tests were carried out and dispute the accuracy of the results.
Find a Top-notch DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
DUI laws of California seek to punish drivers who drive under alcohol influence. The nature of penalties which you are subjected to will depend on the facts of your case. Also, your criminal records will play a role in the case. Drunk driving is a priorable offense where a past conviction plays a role in sentencing. If you are faced with DUI charges and are looking to hire a competent DUI defense attorney, we invite you to contact San Diego DUI Attorney. Our team of skilled attorneys provides all the support and guidance you require to navigate the legal procedures of a drunk driving case. Contact a Rosemont DUI Attorney today at 619-535-7150 for further discussions about your situation.