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Were You Arrested for Drunk Driving in San Diego?

Most people who are charged with DUI are ordinary, hard-working citizens who otherwise lead lawful lives. Unfortunately, the price for drinking and driving can be steep. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, attorney James N. Dicks is uniquely qualified to help defend your rights, liberties, and reputation in the face of DUI charges. Prior to obtaining his law license, he was a police officer, which means that he has first-hand experience in police procedures related to DUI arrests. What does this mean for you? It means that he knows how cops can violate your rights, and he knows how to expose it.

Call (760) 630-2000 to request a free, confidential review of your San Diego DUI case.

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Helping Normal People in Extraordinary Circumstances

Among Mr. Dicks’s many case results includes one in which a normal, responsible woman was caught up in a misunderstanding that nearly destroyed her life. After making the conscious decision to have a designated driver for a night out, the woman and her friends were involved in an accident. When cops arrived on scene and saw her standing near her car, they unfairly accused her of drunk driving. Despite insisting that she was not driving her car, the officers did not believe her and arrested her after she failed a field sobriety test.

Attorney James N. Dicks believed in her. Through dedicated advocacy and efficiency, we were able to find and introduce witnesses who testified that she was, in fact, not driving the vehicle. Not only were we able to help our client keep her license, but additionally, all charges were ultimately dropped. Our client was able to close this shocking chapter of her life and begin anew.

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Before Arrest for a DUI

Law enforcement officials in California (and other parts of the country) are not allowed to arbitrarily stop vehicles for no reason. However, if there is any minor traffic issue, such as speeding or a broken taillight, an officer may pull a vehicle over to conduct an inspection.

Once an individual has been stopped for a standard traffic violation, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence before investigating further. This suspicion can include noticing the driver is slurring his words, or smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath or within the car. If a DUI investigation is begun at this point, the officer may ask how much, if any, alcohol or drugs the driver has consumed.

What Is the Legal Limit in CA?

The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while driving for anyone 21 years old or more is 0.08%. If you are under 21, the limit is 0.01%.

In addition to questions about alcohol or drugs, the officer may choose to ask the driver to perform certain field sobriety tests along with a preliminary alcohol screening test by using a breathalyzer. Both types of tests may be requested, or only one. Individuals in California have the right to refuse these tests, and the officer must inform you of this right. However, if an individual refuses to take a test, the officer can ask for and receive a search warrant signed by a judge to seize a sample of his or her blood. After the search warrant is signed, the officer or deputy will call for a phlebotomist, and at this time, law enforcement personnel will hold the individual down using force to allow the phlebotomist to draw the blood. This entire blood draw will be recorded by a supervising law enforcement officer. This video can be used against an individual who is charged with refusing the test.

Additionally, a refusal to give a breath or a blood sample at the station or jail will result in a one-year suspension of an individual’s license. During each part of the investigation, the requirements for probable cause or reasonable suspicion become higher. This means that while an officer can stop a vehicle for a minor traffic violation, it will be more difficult for him to prove that he had the right to investigate further without cause.

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From the onset he demonstrated high degree of professionalism and tact.

"I hired attorney Dicks in 2012 to represent my interests in a DUI case...Upon successful initial representation, I had reasons to believe that my record can be sealed and destroyed. Attorney Dicks handled the expunging process successfully and without reservation I hereby recommend his services to anyone who seeks impeccable defense, expertise and professionalism!"

- Anonymous

What Happens After I'm Arrested for a San Diego DUI?

After you are arrested for drunk driving in Vista or San Diego, you will be held in custody - or the "drunk tank" - until you post bond or are released on your own recognizance. The arresting officer will likely take your driver’s license away and issue you a temporary one along with a pink slip containing written information. This informs you that your license will be suspended 30 days after the date of your DUI arrest.

In some cases, those charged with a DUI may still be able to get their licenses back, but it is important that you take action within 10 days of being arrested. The DMV is very strict about this deadline and will not accept any reason, valid or not, why you were unable to contact them within the 10-day period.

While you might think you should just contact the DMV office closest to you, that is not necessarily true. Instead, you must contact the California DMV Driver Safety Office in your local area.

The Driver Safety Office will schedule a date for a hearing. This is not a criminal proceeding and they may even allow the hearing to take place over the phone. Although not criminal, it is advised that you retain a lawyer to represent you during the hearing. This is the best chance you have at getting your license back sooner. A lawyer will also be able to help you prepare for the questions you will be asked, such as whether the officers had probable cause to make the arrest.

Regardless of the outcome of the DMV hearing, an arraignment will be held, during which you will be read your rights in court and informed of the charges pending against you. After this point, James N. Dicks and his team will work to submit pretrial motions to ensure that all evidence is lawful - or move to have it suppressed.

For certain individuals, it may be wise to consider a plea bargain during this stage, which offers the opportunity to plea to a lesser charge. We understand that this is a difficult decision to make, but if the evidence is stacked against you, losing will have severe ramifications. Plea bargains can help to significantly mitigate the penalties you would otherwise face. Mr. Dicks can provide rational and experienced legal counsel to help you make the right decision.

The final stage of the case is the trial, during which evidence and testimony is heard, and a decision is made regarding guilt or innocence. If the verdict comes back as guilty, a follow-up hearing will be scheduled for sentencing.

Potential penalties for a DUI include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Mandatory drunk driver education program
  • Added points on the defendant’s driver’s licence, which will make it easier to lose in the future
  • Increased insurance rates
  • Possible parole
  • Statutory fees

An ignition interlock device may help to reduce some of the penalties.

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About Ignition Interlock Devices

With a DUI conviction, you may often expedite reinstatement of your license with installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car. When is an ignition interlock device required? It can be used as a condition of license reinstatement, when a person is charged with driving on a suspended license, and when an individual is convicted of a second or third DUI offense.

A device the size of a cell phone, it is attached by a dealer to your dashboard and wired to your ignition. It contains a breathalyzer that you must blow into to start your car. If you register too high, the car will not start. As you drive, the device will periodically call for you to blow again. If you flunk, it will notify you to stop the car and record the violation. If you fail to stop, it will cause the car to make annoying sounds and flashing lights.

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Restricted License After a San Diego DUI Conviction

If your driver's license is suspended due to DUI, you may seek a restricted license to permit you to drive to and from work, in the course of employment, to and from school, to and from DUI programs, and to the DMV. However, obtaining this restricted license is not as easy as it may seem. If you failed to ask for a DUI hearing or lost, your license will be suspended for 120 days for a first offense. After 30 days have elapsed of your suspension period, you may seek a restricted license.

You need to be able to show the following:

  • You have enrolled in a DUI education program
  • You have SR-22 or proof of insurance
  • You have paid a reissuance fee

If you have refused a BAC test or have a prior DUI, you need to wait one year before applying. With a prior DUI, you must show that you are enrolled in an SB 38 18-month education program and have completed a substantial part of it. You must also show an SR-22 and pay a reissuance fee.

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About Felony DUI Charges

The majority of DUI arrests that take place are filed as misdemeanor. However, under certain circumstances, the charges will be filed as a felony. These circumstances include:

  • Loss of life
  • An accident and/or injury
  • Habitual offenders with three or more convictions in the past 10 years
  • Other serious aggravating factors

Having a felony conviction on your criminal record will be a disaster - not only in the penalties that could be imposed by the court, but in the consequences related to living life as a convicted felon. Before you make a decision about your plea, speak with our San Diego DUI attorney. If vehicular manslaughter or DUI with injury is involved, you may have to serve three or four years in prison with the worst offenders in the state. Hire an attorney who knows how to protect your rights and best interests.

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What About Federal DUI Charges?

If you are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and are behind the wheel in a national park, such as Cabrillo National Monument, Switzer Canyon, or Sunset Cliffs, you can be in serious legal trouble. An arrest for DUI while in a national park is a Class B federal misdemeanor. The penalties for a DUI in a national park can include up to 6 months in federal prison, a $5,000 fine, and five years on probation. Refusing the breath or blood test can also have serious legal ramifications, including having to spend time in federal prison.

Early involvement in your case can make a significant difference in the final outcome, and allows for the possibility of getting the charges dismissed or reduced.

How your case is tried will be determined by the location. Some cases come under the Code of Federal Regulations, while others may be subject to state DUI laws, on the Assimilative Crimes Act, in which both state and federal authorities get involved in your case.

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What About Military DUI Charges?

When one is in the military, the consequences and ramifications of a DUI are all the more severe. When one compares a civilian DUI charge to a military DUI charge, there are a number of differences. When one is a member of the military, his or her case will be tried in military court. In military court, one does need to have a BAC level of 0.08% or higher to be charged. If the court feels that the individual's BAC level may have impaired the ability to drive, he or she could face charges, regardless of whether it was at or above the "legal limit." It is possible to be convicted of a military DUI even if your BAC level was below the state limit.

A person in the military may face the following types of penalties:

  • Dishonorable discharge
  • Pay deduction
  • Rank reduction
  • Fines
  • Prison
  • Loss of security clearance

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Arrested for DUI When 21 Years or Younger?

Under the state's zero-tolerance law, drivers under 21 can be convicted of DUI if they are found driving with a blood alcohol concentration of just 0.01%. That is one drink. They could lose their driver's license and have a mark on their record. If they are found to have 0.08% BAC, which is the same level as the adult charge, they may be arrested and put in jail the same as an adult. College and scholarship applications frequently ask if an applicant has any criminal record, including a DUI conviction. These charges should not jeopardize your future!

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Let Our San Diego DUI Lawyer Protect Your Future, Freedom & Reputation

A BUI (boating under the influence) or DUI conviction can derail your future. Without skilled and knowledgeable legal help, you could be convicted, even if you were not driving dangerously, or another person caused the accident. Many loopholes in these types of arrests include police not having proper cause for stopping you in the first place, DUI checkpoint issues, errors with administering field sobriety tests, faulty breathalyzers, and the science behind alcohol absorption and how it relates to the timing of your BAC test. We will fully investigate the facts of your case and expose any weak points and take full advantage of these points to your advantage.

We want to keep you out of jail. Call our North County DUI defense law firm at (760) 630-2000 now.

Sample of Case Results

  • DUI with BAC of .23% -
    Charges Reduced
  • Felony DUI Causing Injury -
    Charges Reduced
  • Felony DUI Causing Injury -
    All Charges Dropped

View more case results here.

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(760) 630-2000

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James N. Dicks

About James N. Dicks