Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in a situation where a person drives or operates a motor vehicle while having consumed alcohol and other types of drugs that interfere with their vision and or judgment. In these cases, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can result in fatal accidents evidenced by the loss of lives and damage of property. California, just as in other states, has its laws and regulations that stipulate how a driver should conduct himself/herself while using the roads and the penalties to be faced if one breaks them. In California, for example, it is expected that the driver should never operate a vehicle if they have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% or higher.
Minors or those below the age of driving can similarly be charged by law with impaired driving if their blood alcohol levels are proved to be 0.01% or higher. Alternatively, those who have obtained their Commercial Driver's License (CDL) can also be charged by law if their blood alcohol levels are proven to be 0.04% or higher. This means that California is not only a strict state as far as drunk driving is concerned but is also a responsible state because it proves to take care of its people. Although California has its set rules regarding driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it also gives the victims chances to redeem their code of conduct or request for release with a bond through the help of the available attorneys. This is the main reason why it is essential to hire a DUI attorney to ensure that one doesn't get criminalized or mistreated in the arrest, arraignment and judgment process. Our San Diego DUI Attorney team in Stallion Oaks are ready and prepared to help you get the right legal services in your DUI case.
BAC in California
Before we get to discuss BAC in California, it is accurate to start by introducing two main terminologies that are used by the California State Supreme Court: Drive and driver. The term "drive" as used in the court of law, is used to mean the ultimate control of a vehicle while on the road. The term "driver" is used to refer to the person in charge and the actual physical control of the vehicle. In this context, driving a car does not mean just to put the car in motion but instead moving the vehicle responsibly and as expected by the rule of law.
BAC is an acronym that is used as a short form of Blood Alcohol Content. This is the measurement or the determination of the amount of alcohol in one's bloodstream. The primary purpose of implementing this process is to determine the level of alcohol to classify one's toxicity or drug influence according to the driving laws in California depending on the type of drivers they are and the licenses they hold. The BAC levels are, in most cases expressed as percentages as evidenced in 0.8% where the rate is the legal alcohol limit for a large portion of the adults who happen to drive. Besides, the expression is a representation of the alcohol concentration in every 100 milliliters of the driver's blood.
Since BAC is represented numerically, it is accurate to deduce that alcohol levels are not the same depending on the class of driver in question. Thus, a person's blood that has a higher concentration of alcohol will be indicated by a corresponding higher percentage. If the BAC test result shows a lower number, it means that the driver has consumed a small amount of liquor hence the lower rate.
BAC Testing and Determination in California
Scientifically, The Blood Alcohol Levels in an individual or a driver, in this case, is determined in two legitimate ways. The first method is through a Driving Under Influence (DUI) breath test, which is usually an approximation and cannot be solely depended on. This is because although it shows the extent to which the individual has consumed alcohol, it is not an actual representation of the alcohol levels in their blood. The other method of determining the BAC levels is through DUI Blood Tests. Blood tests are often done chemically, and this is the reason why it is more accurate. However, both of the methods are reliable and can be legally used in a court of law to pursue cases to do with drunk driving in California.
DUI Breath Tests
In the state of California, breath tests are the most used. The reason why the police and the traffic department at large make use of this method is because it delivers instant results. This way, it saves the time consumed by both the police officer and the driver hence makes prosecution easier.
It is important to note that a breath test does not necessarily measure the alcohol percentage in the driver's blood but instead focuses on the alcohol level which can be noticed from the deep part of the lungs. For the officers to successfully determine the alcohol percentage in the blood, a breathalyzer is used because of its ability to convert the levels mathematically through partition ratio into the approximate blood alcohol percentage. Breath tests are done in two main ways:
Preliminary Alcohol Screening Breath Tests
Preliminary Alcohol Screening Tests are also referred to as pre-arrest-tests and can only be conducted before the driver is arrested for Driving Under Influence. This process can only occur at a sobriety checkpoint where the police officers have the aim of collecting evidence against the driver in the event; he/she is driving while impaired. Examples of pre-arrest tests include;
Walk and turn trial whereby one is expected to walk one foot in front of the other and turn on a length usually marked by parking lines. Here, the police officers search for signals indicating imbalance and/or the driver's inability to follow instructions.
The one-leg-stand test is one where the driver is expected to stand on only one foot and recite either the alphabet or the number line. Here, the officers look for imbalance, discoordination, and lack of focus. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, on the other hand, requires the driver to follow the movement of the officer's fingers using eyes and not their head.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus test whereby the driver is expected to follow the movement of the officer's fingers using eyes and not their head.
Post-arrest DUI Breath Tests
After a driver has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, the officer may take them to the station for further assessment regarding their blood alcohol levels. Here, the driver has the option to choose whether to take a breath test or a chemical test as part of their post-arrest tests. However, this test is not optional and must be undertaken even if the driver had previously had a preliminary arrest test failure to which their driving license may be suspended automatically for not less than a year.
Blood DUI Tests
These blood tests are done in a laboratory or a chemist with their main aim to directly and accurately determine the blood alcohol concentration in the driver's blood shortly after an arrest has been made. Usually, the driver's blood sample is collected by an officer who is licensed by the state and takes it for close analysis and examination. Although the results of the tests are not released immediately (it may take up to several weeks), the driver may seek the services of a Stallion Oaks DUI Attorney to receive the same.
One of the main advantages of undertaking a DUI blood test instead of a DUI breath test is because the driver can also, through a Stallion Oaks DUI Attorney, have the sample tested privately to ensure that the two separate tests have similar results. If the outcome of the tests turns out to be different, the Stallion Oaks DUI Attorney can pose a challenge to the prosecution at the driver's interest. Therefore, it is impossible to infringe one in with a crime he/she did not commit.
Errors in a DUI Arrest
Just like ordinary people, police can too make mistakes. However, some mistakes made during a DUI arrest by an officer can be crucial to the extent that they can lead to the ultimate dismissal of a case by the California State Supreme Court. Stallion Oaks DUI Attorneys have the knowledge and the ability to prove that a police officer made a particular mistake during the process of arrest hence creating an opportunity to challenge the prosecution in a court of law.
It is important to note that a single mistake by a police officer during a DUI arrest can extensively help one in avoiding a conviction which means that the driver can save his time and finances to take care of his needs and those of his family. This is the reason why people, especially residents of San Diego, should make themselves familiar with the legal procedures for possible identification of mistakes committed by traffic police officers.
The following are some of the common mistakes;
Lack of probable cause It is essential to note that legally, a police officer can only pull you over if he/she has a probable cause that you were driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This means for you to be pulled over, you must have engaged in unaccepted driving behaviors like over speeding, serving on the road, and others. If you were not caught with any of them, then the arrest may be challenged by a Stallion Oaks DUI Attorney and the case invalidated by the court of law.
Inability/errors while conducting the field sobriety tests - The sobriety tests put in place in California have their main aim to determine the driver's level of balance, coordination, and multi-tasking. The officers must adhere to procedures of administering these tests strictly. Besides, they should be able to make specific considerations like weather and medical conditions before concluding the ability of the driver to control the vehicle volitionally. The arrest can also be invalidated through a court of law if a DUI attorney, with the help of the driver, can prove that specific procedures were not followed as outlined or conditions were not considered.
Wrong police reports The police report should always indicate what was on the scene without leaving some things out or exaggerating them. This is the reason why great police officers have small booklets where they can take notes of the same. A DUI arrest case can be done away with if the police officer presents an inaccurate report of the arrest. With the help of a Stallion Oaks DUI Attorney, one can challenge the prosecution and hence lead to the questioning of the officer's credibility and reliability in their services.
Inaccuracy regarding BAC testing - Blood Alcohol Content testing should be conducted by a licensed individual who has the ability and capability of delivering accurate information. Failure to collect the sample correctly, poor preservation and analysis can mean that the case is weak and wrong. Through the help of a highly trained DUI attorney, you can prove if any of these mistakes were found, thereby avoiding a conviction based on DUI.
The Arrest and the Arraignment Process
After a seizure due to a DUI, you will be subjected to the arraignment process in a court of law. This is where a plea is entered as other details, such as case scheduling and representation are arranged. In the early stages of the arraignment, it is crucial to represent oneself as the police report is delivered. This will help you to determine if you need to hire a Stallion Oaks DUI Attorney.
In the first appearance, the judge demands to know if you're represented or not. He/she may also want to know if you're going to hire a DUI attorney or apply for public defender services. If you're not represented at the time, and you need the services of a public defender, then the judge can appoint one of them to represent you, or you can apply for one and check in later. It is in this phase that you can also state that you can represent yourself. Note that a judge of a court of law can advise you to seek the services of an attorney, but they have no right to control your decision.
Complaint and the Police Report
After your name is called, you will go where you are expected to go since you have been observing what happens in the previous cases. You will be handed over with a formal copy of the charges against you by the bailiff or the police report in this case. During the arraignment, you are encouraged to maintain focus and refrain from digging what is in the report because they do not influence the case at that time.
Here, you can either plead guilty, not guilty or not contest depending on your view of the charges filed against you. Pleading guilty will have you sentenced to prison on the spot hence the reason why you should always plead not guilty unless you don't want to go back home. Irrespective of what your blood alcohol content was, it is vital to plead not guilty.
This is the phase where you are expected to waive time so that the court does not have an exact deadline or timeline for your case. This will allow you to gather your defense, hire a lawyer or an attorney to put the case together. Once set, you can withdraw the time waver and put the case to trial.
Terms of Release
If you have bailed out, the judge will continue with the original bail unless the prosecution introduces a reason why the court should raise it. For example, if your home is far away, which requires long-distance driving, the court will likely raise the bail to increase the chances of you coming back for the trials. If the judge listens to the case and opts to release you without bail, then you stay that way unless the prosecution has something else to say about your case.
Here, a date is set for the next appearance when the court determines whether to do away with the case by a plea or you can face a trial. In this phase, you can either plead guilty and face the charges or plead not liable where the court determines what happens next.
Possible DUI Punishments
Just like in any criminal case, a driver charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is assumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. If proven guilty, either through one's plea or after a jury trial, the penalty is issued depending on the law and circumstances such as case cooperation. The following are the possible DUI charges:
Jail time- In California, first-offense DUI is punishable up to six months of jail time. However, this time may be increased depending on the circumstances and the BAC levels. The minimum sentence is at least several days for first-time offenders while other offenses may lead to several months to a year worth of jail time.
Fines- Apart from the court issuing jail sentences, DUI cases can be imposed fines that range from $500 to as much as $2,000.
License withdrawal - DUI offenders may have their licenses suspended for 90 days for first-timers, one year for second-time offenders and three years for third-time offenders.
Other forms of punishment Sometimes the court of law may require the offender to engage in productive activities such as alcohol teaching and prevention programs and other community services instead of serving jail time or paying huge taxes, especially for first-time DUI offenders.
Other consequences Sometimes, when one is involved in DUI cases, the insurance company may withdraw its policy from the offender or cancel it altogether. Besides, in case of an accident, the victims may decide to sue the offender for personal injuries or damage of property which is expensive.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
If you have been charged with a DUI offense, it is impossible to think that you can challenge the prosecution successfully alone. Therefore, it is imperative that you go the extra mile of meeting and discussing your case with a highly skilled and experienced attorney. So that they are ready to defend any of your DUI cases irrespective of the charges. If you are in Stallion Oaks or San Diego County, our San Diego DUI Attorney team can help get you through your situation. Contact us today at 619-535-7150 for more information.