An intoxicated driver is a danger to other road users and to themselves. The state of California has strict penalties for individuals arrested for driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. When a person is arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving, charges will be brought against them for the offense. California also has zero-tolerance for underage drinking. Individuals below the age of 21, if arrested for drunk driving, face more severe penalties than those of adults. Persons holding a commercial driver’s license or charged with driving common carriers are also held in higher standards with regard to drunk driving. The penalties, if convicted, are more severe than for regular motorists. If you are in Yaldora, CA and are facing DUI charges, speaking to a local DUI attorney will be helpful in your defense. At San Diego DUI Attorney, we have a team of experienced lawyers that deal with DUI cases every day.
Understanding DUI Laws in California
As earlier stated, the law prohibits intoxicated driving in California. A motorist can be intoxicated from either prescription or over the counter medications, illegal drugs, or alcohol. The law provides for the acceptable limits for drunk driving.
When a motorist is pulled over for suspected intoxicated driving, the officer will ask them to submit to various field sobriety tests to establish if they are impaired. If the officer is convinced that further tests need to be carried out, you will be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and taken to the station. In California, if you are not on a DUI probation or below the age of 21, you do not have to submit to a field sobriety test. However, this will not stop the officer from arresting you for further tests.
Faced with these charges, a Yaldora DUI Attorney will advise you on your rights as well as what to expect to avoid wrongful convictions.
California is an implied consent state. This means that once you are at the police station, you must agree to a breathalyzer test to check your alcohol level in the blood. If you decline to submit to this, you will face even stiffer penalties if found guilty of driving under the influence.
A regular motorist is prohibited from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08%. A commercial driver, on the other hand, is not permitted to drive when their BAC is at or over 0.04%. People under the age of 21 are considered to be underage. The state does not tolerate underage drinking. It is illegal to operate a vehicle when below the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.01% or over.
A person can also be intoxicated by drugs. When the police officers suspect this, they must seek a court order to have your blood drawn for testing. The law does not require a person to submit to a blood test without a court order. If you feel your rights are being violated, a Yaldora DUI Attorney will ensure that the tests are legally carried out and are charged with the right offense.
DUI Offenses are Priorable Offenses
When an offense is priorable, it means that there must be a first violation of the law and subsequent breaches. DUI offenses are charged as a first offense, second, third, and a felony fourth offense. Typically, a standard DUI offense is charged as a misdemeanor, unless it is a fourth offense. However, there are aggravating factors or circumstances that can make an offense to be prosecuted as a felony. Here, we will discuss the various DUI offenses, the penalties if you get convicted as well as the possible defenses. Additionally, we will briefly explain what factors can make a DUI offense a felony in California.
First DUI Offense
When you are charged on drunk driving charges, the offense, as earlier discussed, will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of the crime, the following penalties are what you are likely to face:
- Summary or informal probation that lasts between three and five years
- A possible county jail sentence of six months or less
- Being ordered to pay a fine ranging between $390 and $1,000
- Being ordered to attend a DUI approved school for an alcohol and drug program
- Being ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car
Without proper legal representation, you may find yourself serving the maximum sentence under this offense. When charged with these offenses, a Yaldora DUI Attorney will help you avoid maximum penalties by presenting legal defenses on your behalf.
Second DUI Offense
This happens when you have a single prior conviction for a DUI. This offense must be committed within ten years from your first DUI conviction. If you are convicted of the crime, the penalties are steeper than those of a first conviction. A sentence as a misdemeanor carries the following penalties:
- Summary or informal probation lasting between three and five years
- A minimum county jail time of four days and a maximum of one year
- Being ordered to pay a fine ranging between $390 and $1,000
- Attending and completing a DUI approved school program for either 18 or 30 months
- Being ordered to install an IID in your car for at least a year
- Having your driver's license suspended.
Third DUI Offense
If you commit a third DUI offense in ten years from your first conviction, you will face steeper penalties for the crime. Some of the penalties will include:
- Being sentenced to probation that lasts between three and five years
- A county jail time of four months and a maximum of a year
- A cash fine ranging between $390 and $1,000
- Attending and completing a court-approved DUI school program
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for a minimum of two years.
- You will receive the title of a habitual traffic offender.
Fourth DUI Offense
A fourth DUI offense within ten years from your first conviction attracts steeper penalties because it is prosecuted as a felony. If you are convicted of the crime, the likely penalties include:
- Being sentenced to formal probation that lasts between three and five years
- Facing possible state imprisonment lasting sixteen or twenty-four or thirty-six months
- A suspension of your driver’s license for three years
- Being ordered to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
- Earning the title of a habitual traffic offender
DUI Offense with Injuries
A DUI offense with injuries carries steeper penalties. This offense is stipulated under VEH 23153. The offense can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The prosecutor in deciding on the charges to prefer against you looks at your criminal background. The facts around the offense are also taken into consideration. A standard DUI offender can have a DUI resulting in injuries, which will be a wobbler offense instead of a standard offense.
If you are facing these charges getting in touch with a Yaldora DUI Attorney will help you to formulate a defense and avoid steep penalties quickly. Some of the penalties you would face if convicted of a misdemeanor DUI causing injuries are:
- Being sentenced to summary probation lasting between three and five years
- County jail imprisonment for a period lasting between five days and a year
- A cash fine ranging between $390 and $5,000
- A DUI school program that can last for three months or one and a half or two and a half years
- Being ordered to install your car with an ignition interlock device for not less than six months
- Paying of restitution to the victims
Penalties for Felony DUI Causing Injury
As earlier stated, a DUI offense resulting in injuries can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony offense occurs when a victim of the accident other than yourself suffers significant injuries. The penalties resulting from a felony conviction include:
- State imprisonment for between sixteen months and ten years. If the injuries sustained are substantial and several people are injured, you will face an additional six-year imprisonment. This sentence is usually served consecutively with the other jail sentence.
- The offense would earn you a strike under the three-strikes law
- Paying fines ranging between $1,015 and $5,000
- Attending and completing a drug or alcohol program that lasts for 18 or 30 months
- Earning the title of a habitual traffic offender for three years
- Being ordered to install an IID for between two and three years
- Being ordered to pay restitution to those injured.
Although some of the penalties seem the same, they are indeed very varied when it comes to each offense. Before sentencing, the court looks at any priors you may have and sentences you to a harsher penalty. For instance, if, as a first offender, you were ordered to pay a fine of $390, for the second offense, a higher fine but still within the range of $390 and $1,000 is ordered.
DUI offenses can sometimes result in the death of a victim. When this happens, even when the offense was a first time one, you will face felony charges. A defendant will be incarcerated in the state prison for up to life. Additionally, they will earn a strike under the three-strike law. When you are faced with these charges, an experienced Yaldora DUI Attorney will help you put up a persuasive defense.
Conditions for Probation
When a judge sentences a defendant to probation, the penalty has severe conditions that, if violated, will lead to revocation of the probation and staying of the jail sentence. Some of the requirements you will be expected to adhere to are:
- While on probation, you are prohibited from driving with any detectable quantity of alcohol in your system
- You do not have the right to refuse field sobriety tests or any other tests carried out to determine if you are drunk driving
- While on probation, you are forbidden from committing another crime regardless of the type
- You may be ordered to enroll and attend the alcoholic's anonymous meetings
- You may be asked to actively participate in victim impact programs such as mothers against drunk driving.
Aggravating Factors to Your DUI Sentencing
Some factors during your arrest can serve to enhance your DUI sentence irrespective of whether you have prior convictions on DUI charges. Some of the common factors that increase the penalties include:
- Driving with a BAC of 0.15% or more
- Declining to submit to a breathalyzer test
- Driving intoxicated and causing a crash
- Driving at high speeds
- Being charged with a DUI with a minor in the car. This can also lead to other charges of child endangerment as found under PEN 271(a)
- If when you were arrested, you were underage
The enhancement penalties received depend mainly on the circumstances of the arrest and your criminal background.
Alternative DUI Penalty Options
Your Yaldora DUI Attorney can argue your case to have you receive alternative sentencing as opposed to jail time. Some of the alternative penalties your lawyer can help you get include:
- Community service
- Cal-trans roadside duties
- Order you to live in an environment considered sober
- To be imprisoned in a private jail like Hawthorne jail
Not every lawyer is aware of these penalty alternatives. This is why getting a Yaldora DUI Attorney will be to your advantage.
License Suspension by the Courts
When one is convicted for a DUI offense, both the court and the DMV will have their license suspended. A first conviction will automatically lead to a six-month suspension of your license by the courts, according to VEH 13352(a)(1). The court usually recommends the suspension and communicates its recommendations to the DMV.
A license suspension by the court is different from that of the DMV. The court process and that of the DMV are independent of each other. And the outcome of one does not influence the other. If the court suspends your license, the DMV will expect the defendant to serve the longer suspension but not both suspensions at the same time.
When a person is arrested for a DUI suspicion, the arresting officer takes their driver’s license. If, after chemical testing, it is established that the driver had a BAC above the legal limit, this is reported to the DMV. The motorist’s license is temporarily suspended, awaiting a DMV decision and a temporary one issued by the arresting officer.
The DMV License Suspension
Every person arrested on DUI charges automatically gets their license temporarily suspended until a DMV hearing is done and a final determination arrived at. When the arresting officer gives you a temporary license, you will have ten days to request a DMV hearing from the date of arrest. If you fail to do this, the DMV will automatically suspend your license. YourYaldora DUI attorney can help you request the hearing and represent you during the hearing.
Please note, if your BAC is not at 0.08% or over for regular drivers when arrested, your license will not get suspended. Similarly, commercial drivers arrested with a BAC of 0.04% will also get their licenses suspended until the DMV hearing.
The chances of winning a DMV hearing are slim but not impossible with a local Yaldora DUI attorney. If you win your DMV hearing, your license will not be suspended, and you will be allowed to drive as before. However, you can still drive while your license is suspended as long as you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. A defendant can also apply for a restricted driver’s license to allow them to drive to specific places such as the hospital, school, or work.
Fighting DUI Charges in California
When facing DUI charges, a Yaldora DUI Attorney can represent you and fight the allegations. Our team is comprised of experienced DUI attorneys to help you with your case. Some of the strategies for fighting against your DUI charges include:
- Your bad driving is not a sign of intoxication – during a DUI trial, the prosecutors turn their attention on the driving pattern of the defendant. With the help of the arresting officer, they testify that the defendant was driving in a manner that suggested they were intoxicated. Your lawyer will be able to argue your case that intoxication is not the reason for your bad driving. With evidence, your lawyer can successfully argue your case and get you charged on a lesser offense or get acquitted.
- Symptoms of intoxication can also be symptoms of other underlying conditions – when you are pulled over, the officer may notice you have watery red eyes, your speech is slurred, or you are not steady. These are some of the symptoms used to assume one to be driving intoxicated. However, this does not evidence that you were driving intoxicated. Your lawyer can argue that you were tired or have allergies, among other reasons for the symptoms. This argument, backed with evidence, is often successful in DUI cases.
- The BAC results were not accurate – a breathalyzer test can give BAC results that are high yet inaccurate. The law expects an officer to continuously observe a suspect for at least 15 minutes before administering the test. This is because if the suspect had consumed anything with alcohol in it, he or she might still have mouth alcohol. Mouth sprays are among the items that can result in false BAC results. However, mouth alcohol does not last, making it the reason an officer must wait before administering the test. If the officer took the test after you had taken something with alcohol in it, such as mouthwash, the results would be false. Your lawyer can argue this successfully if backed with evidence.
Find a DUI Lawyer Near Me
DUI offenses can lead to severe consequences if not well defended and, in some cases, wrongful convictions. For this reason, having a competent DUI attorney is essential to ensure you have a fair chance to fight against these allegations. If you are in Yaldora, the San Diego DUI Attorney will help you get a favorable outcome following your DUI charges. Call our office at 619-535-7150, and let us fight these allegations on your behalf.