Committing a DUI in California may turn the course of your life as you try to comply with the penalties upon conviction. However, the choice of experienced defense in California DUI crimes can overturn the evidence against you. The San Diego DUI Attorney looks into details of your case and uses their polished legal knowledge to defend clients in Santa Ysabel aggressively. Read on to learn more about DUIs in California.
What is a DUI Offense in California?
A DUI offense in California is twofold:
- A charge for exceeding the legal blood alcohol concentration in California which is below 0.08%
- A charge for driving recklessly due to intoxication even if you have not exceeded the 0.08% BAC limit
Any of the two subtypes of DUI offenses can lead to severe consequences once convicted in court. The effects apply to both underage drivers and drivers aged above 21 years. However, the conditions warranting charges differ between the two types of drivers. The young drivers face a per se DUI charge for driving with any slight detectable amount of intoxication. Drinking and driving under the age of 21 is a violation of the zero-tolerance laws in California and is punishable.
A traffic infraction, causing accidents, operating a vehicle that is mechanically unworthy for driving, or being caught up in the sequential stopping at a legal sobriety checkpoint exposes you to DUI scrutiny. The first three constitutes either thoroughly reasonable suspicion or probable cause, while the DUI checkpoint stop does not need any of these two for preliminary investigation.
DUI investigation begins with conducting field sobriety tests if the driver is legible. You can thus face a DUI charge even after passing the FST and having sound levels of BAC resultant from the analysis. The exemption from taking the field sobriety test is possible on the following grounds:
- Drivers aged above sixty-five years since these persons have aches and pains due to old age
- Drivers with a body mass index above particular pounds since turning, making steps, and balancing will be a problem
- Drivers suffering health issues that interfere with coordination, balance, and sight
The Problem With Field Sobriety Tests (FST)
The following are the three common FST used by the officers to build the probable cause for the DUI stop:
- One-Leg-Stand test
- Walk and Turn test
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test
Your Santa Ysabel DUI Attorney will use the inherent problems associated with the field sobriety tests to defend you. The following are the main points where his defense will revolve about:
The FST Assessment is Subjective
The performance of the FST cannot be free from the police officer's bias. If the officer did not like the driver's attitude when stopping them, the bias might trickle to conducting them to an incriminating FST. The officer's bias reflects itself by things such as rapidity in issuing instructions when conducting the FST.
Further, there are no neutral assessment devices, but the reliance is solely on the officer's observations. For instance, how accurate can the officer gauge the tremors of the driver's eyes in the horizontal nystagmus test? Hence the performance depends on the officer's observations and estimates.
The environment under which the FSTs occur is not sterile, and often external factors interfere with the driver's conditions. It is good that you remember the typical times when the police set sobriety checkpoints such as:
- When taverns and all brew selling points such as restaurants close and the people start driving home
- On the aftermath of the celebrations and festivities
- On Fridays nights as most drivers may engage in alcoholism after the working hours
Poor lighting at the FST spots may lead to poor performance when conducting FST beside the road. The flashing police car lights or the light of the passing traffic overwhelms the driver's eyes. Uneven spots make the drivers lose balance and are taken as an indication of intoxication. The drivers may also not be wearing clothing that fits them for such an exercise. For instance, it is unreasonable to expect a driver to pass FST when wearing high heels and tight-fitting clothes.
One of the main reasons that may make the driver fail in the FST is fatigue. Especially those driving home after a day's duties and added overtime work will always perform poorly in the FST. The driver may also have had a car accident that resulted in a concussion. This type of injury makes the driver unable to balance and communicate well.
Due to the above reasons, the evidence of the driver's performance for a DUI is not justifiable statistically. Further, it is difficult to tell whether the officer gave the precise instructions of the specific test. The driver may end up failing the tests since they may have never been to them before. Committing an error and trying to adjust is taken as a sign of intoxication. All these weaknesses of the FSTs give your Santa Ysabel DUI Attorney an advantage to defend you aggressively.
When you are stopped, you can refuse to take the FST and the breath test on the scene. Conversely, failing to submit to chemical tests when arrested, can lead to severe issues such as suspension of your driving license.
A DUI conviction in California is punishable, depending on the following factors:
- The presence of other DUI crimes in the record against your name
- Whether you injured a person in your DUI offense
A convict faces the following penalties depending on the weight of evidence of the prosecution and strength of defense:
- Jail term in the county or state prison
- Summary probation or formal probation
- Restitution to the parties involved
The following penalties also vary depending on whether you face a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor. The following other factors increase the severity of the sentence:
- The presence of a child as a passenger in the vehicle at the time of committing the DUI offense. Having a child as an occupant may be charged as additional charge known as child endangerment with its penalties
- The incident of causing an accident when under the influence
- If you were overspeeding at the time of arrest or stop
- Driving while intoxicated and yet below the age of 21 years
- Exceeding the BAC of 0.15% the test determines
- Refusing to submit to the chemical test while in legal arrest as shown by the reasonable suspicion and probable cause or at the sobriety checkpoint
Probation is a general requirement for very DUI convicts regardless of whether it is a felony or misdemeanor conviction. However, the Santa Ysabel DUI Attorney will help you in deciding whether probation is better compared to serving the whole jail term instead. Below are the things you need to know about the probation.
What Happens During Probation?
Probation mainly comes after the offender has served their jail term and paid the other fines as imposed by the court, apart from when the jury orders pretrial probation. The officer attached to the institutions of probations or the judge regularly evaluates the probationer. Below are some of the conditions or requirements during probation:
Limited Driving Privileges
The limitation of driving involves the total suspension of the driving license or driving with a restricted license. Total suspension implies that you can no longer drive your car while a restricted license enables you to maintain a basic lifestyle, such as commuting to work. Total suspension of the license occurs on two occasions:
- When you fail to request a DMV hearing within ten days after the arresting and issuance with admin per se license
- Losing the DMV hearing due to the weight of the evidence against you
You may survive the suspension on both of these occasions, but the court may order otherwise on evaluating your case. For instance, the court may exchange the full license for a restricted one.
Compliance to Zero-Tolerance
The issuance with a restricted license comes with its consequences too. One such impact is conforming to perfect sober driving by not consuming any alcohol. The officers can arrest you for DUI while still a probationer if you record a slight level of intoxication, although this regulation technically applies to minor drivers.
Installation of Ignition Interlock Device
The IID is used to strengthen the regulation of probation above. The drivers must drive with the restricted license with an alcohol-free breath. If the IID detects alcohol traces, the car does not start. In the course, the IID requests for additional samples and relays the results to the DMV for examination.
Not Committing Additional Crimes
The probationer is required to commit no additional crime during the probation period, and the crime does not need to be a DUI. The above two requirements enable the driver not to commit any additional DUI crimes.
Serving the Community
The probationers are required to split their work schedule between their responsibilities, attending DUI School as discussed below, and performing the community service. The purposes of these duties are to strengthen the alcohol abstinence therapy by diverting the mind of the alcoholic driver from alcohol clout.
The works performed may include educating students in schools about the dangers of drugs or cleaning up roadsides. The preference for community service and education to incarceration is when they rehabilitate the driver better.
The goal of the state government is to maintain safe roads through the department of motor vehicles. Hence one of the main aims of attending the court-ordered probation is reforming a driver from alcoholism. The driver obtains alcohol reform by attending a DUI school.
The treatment begins only after the drinking problem, or alcohol dependency is established. A qualified drug counselor evaluates the driver to pinpoint this dependency. The assessment is necessary since the DUI conviction can be impartially based on the fact that the driver made a poor decision on the traffic when driving or had exceeded legal intoxication limits. A further investigation is necessary to avoid imposing them a program not necessary.
The California based DUI counselor evaluates the driver based on whether:
- The driver tends to use alcohol and other substances simultaneously
- The driver spends substantial proportions of their resources such as money and time in drinking
- The driver has had a poor trend in performance in either school, work or both
- The driver faced in the past any legal consequences of alcoholism such as disturbing the peace charge
- The driver has continued using alcohol despite the negative consequences such as facing legal charges and poor performance in work
- The driver has drinking patterns influenced by the stress patterns or life problems
- The driver neglected his personal, professional and family duties due to drinking alcohol
The counselor therefore examines and upon finding an alcohol problem in the driver recommends any or a combination:
- Drugs detoxification program
- A drug recovery program either in or out of a healthcare facility
- Enlisting in an alcohol and drugs program for therapeutic help
Alcohol is addictive, and the counselor may identify the above signs as an indication of physical dependence on alcohol. The addiction is strengthened on each additional drinking session since the body continues developing a tolerance for normal amounts triggering heavy drinking to achieve the intoxication. For heavy drinkers, the signs of withdrawal knock after the driver quit drinking for hours or days. The following are signs of withdrawal:
- Difficult getting sleep
- Anxiety and confusion
- Shaking and tremors
- Increased pulse rate
- Vomiting and nauseous symptoms
- Hallucinations, whether auditory or visionary
- Seizures and fevers
- Extreme irritability
Medical detoxification is the first step to recovery for drivers who have severe drinking problems, which often leads to withdrawal symptoms mentioned above. The medical detox can be an inpatient or outpatient program. The medication administered helps in maintaining and dealing with the withdrawal symptoms and enlisting in the medical detox program deals with the physical aspects of addiction.
After medical detoxification, group and individual therapy sessions follow. The sensitization of the DUI aspects occurs during these sessions, the therapeutic sessions help the driver maintain drug and alcohol abstinence. Various counselors address the psychological aspects of the burdens of addiction.
The Effectiveness of Alcohol Treatment
The effectiveness of the drug treatment programs is questioned by many who think that a recovery decision should come from within an individual. When the recovery force is coming from a court and encouragement from others, the recovery is equally effective. The legal pressure to recover achieves great results due to the incentive of reinstatement of driving privileges. Higher rates of attendance and attending for longer periods are key in recovery.
An aftercare program is necessary so that the recovered DUI drivers do not relapse within the four years. The relapse into alcohol use among the drivers is not a failure but a process of recovery. It suggests a change in the recovery approach. Beyond the mandatory rehab, there is a need to maintain sobriety to be able to keep the license, hence recruiting oneself to therapy groups such as Alcohol Anonymous is recommended.
The alcohol treatment qualifies the driver to have the driving privileges again. The driving privileges are usually forfeited due to the reasons mentioned above:
- When the California DMV suspends the driving license for losing the DMV hearing
- When the driver refuses to submit to the chemical tests after a legal arrest
The bottom line of all alcohol treatment is the cost implications in your budget. You will be required to pay for all these treatment procedures. This spending is why you should avoid a DUI case as much as possible by drinking responsibly.
When Facing Conviction for Out-Of-State DUI
Except for five states in the United States, all the other states are signatory to Interstate Driver's License Compact (IDLC). The states can, therefore, manage a single database for crimes committed by drivers hence can share the information. If you have a DUI charge in California, your Santa Ysabel DUI Attorney should represent you maximally in both DMV hearing and California's DUI criminal proceedings. However, you will serve the penalties in your state if your state is a member of IDLC.
California DUI Expungement
The last thing that a Santa Ysabel DUI Attorney can do for you is helping explore the process of expungement. Expungement gets your DUI crime rubbed off from the DMV records. The judge casts aside the verdict, and you are proved not guilty.
After the expungement, you can obtain employment without the DUI record resulting in negative job search effects. However, the expungement does not reverse the license suspension. It is on the rare occasions that the license suspension period exceeds the probation period. Expungement means that the DUI criminal record cannot affect your endeavors but remains still in the record.
The expungement is possible once the convict fulfills the following conditions:
- Satisfying the requirements of the probation as determined by the jury or probation officer
- Paid fines and restitution to legible parties
- Performed the duties as stipulated in the community service regulations
- Completed the DUI School and rehabilitated accordingly
All in all, the expunged DUI crime is referred to once you commit another DUI offense as if expungement never took place. Legal counsel is needed here since the prosecutors and jury in California are not easy to give expungement.
Find a Santa Ysabel DUI Attorney Near Me
If you have a DUI case in Santa Ysabel, you need a legal counsel that walks with you from the beginning till the end. You can find reliable defense with the San Diego DUI Attorney; we have a reputation for aggressively fighting for the freedom of all our clients. Once arrested for DUI in California, contact us as soon as possible by dialing 619-535-7150 for a free consultation and the best DUI case defense.