Rancho Sante Fe DUI Lawyers
A DUI (driving under the influence) charge can have significant impacts on your life. It puts you at risk of time in prison, carries significant penalties, and causes damage to your personal reputation and career, in addition to causing you to lose your license.
Keep reading to learn more about California’s DUI charges, the administrative and criminal penalties for a DUI, and common defenses.
According to California Vehicle Code section 23152(b), a DUI occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or when a person has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. You can still be arrested if your blood alcohol concentration is less than 0.08 percent, but the police may need more proof to convict you. Drivers with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) have a lower restriction of 0.04 percent, and minors (under 21 years of age) and individuals who are on probation for previous DUI convictions in California have an even lower limit of 0.01 percent pursuant to California Vehicle Code sections 23136 and 23140.
If a suspicion of a DUI with drugs is raised, the police in California have the ability to arrest you based only on the indicators of objective intoxication. Drugs in these circumstances may include marijuana, some prescription medications, or other controlled or prohibited substances. Chemical tests may also be necessary, and refusing to take them might result in a driver’s license being suspended automatically. It is worth noting, though, that these tests are not always 100 percent accurate.
Administrative penalties, such as those imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), can be enforced even if you are not convicted of DUI yet.
When you are charged with a DUI in California, the police will most likely take your driver’s license and grant a 30-day interim license. You may request a hearing with the DMV to extend the temporary license. However, if you do not show up for the hearing, the license will be suspended immediately. Furthermore, you may request permission to apply for a new permanent license; in most circumstances, the outcome of such a hearing is a ruling that the temporary license may only be used to get to and from work or other essential travel until the case is decided. If no hearing is requested, all driving privileges lapse at the conclusion of the 30-day period, and your final disposition is determined by the court in the criminal case.
The court may impose different penalties depending on how many previous DUI charges you have.
A first-time offender will likely face imprisonment for anywhere between 48 hours and six months and likely be required to pay $1,000 in fines. A four-month license suspension is common, but if you are under the age of 21, the suspension might be extended to a year. If the blood alcohol level was high, you may be required to attend DUI school for at least three months. Discretion will also be exercised by the courts as to whether or not the vehicle is impounded and whether the vehicle requires an interlock ignition device to ensure you are sober when the vehicle is being used.
DUI penalties increase for subsequent offenses and are typically considered misdemeanors. The fine for the second and third convictions is the same amount as the first conviction. However, jail time is significantly increased; a second-time offender will likely face 96 hours to one year (house arrest or jail alternative work may be granted), and a third-time offender will be sentenced to 120 days to one year (30 days if probation is allowed and 30 months of DUI school).
Certain aggravating factors can elevate a DUI to a felony. Felony DUIs carry harsher penalties and impose more serious consequences on you. A fourth DUI within 10 years in California will be charged as a felony.
You can and should consult a Rancho Santa Fe criminal lawyer as quickly as possible in a criminal trial to ensure a strong defense.
Anyone can be charged with a DUI, and despite there being compelling evidence against you, such as blood and breath testing, there are ways to effectively contest DUI charges.
Bad Driving Does Not Automatically Amount to a DUI
The police will focus on the driving pattern and note factors such as speeding or weaving within the lanes, which are behaviors consistent with someone that is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can effectively rebut this by requiring the specific police officer to testify about all the ways in which you properly and safely drove.
Objective Symptoms of Intoxication Are Not the Same Thing as a DUI
Behavior and appearance play large roles in a California DUI charge. Common symptoms may include red eyes, a flushed face, and slurred speech. However, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can establish valid reasons for those symptoms by addressing “innocent” explanations as to what leads to those signs, such as allergies, a cold, and fatigue.
The Arrest or Detention Could Have Been Done Illegally
It could be that the police officer at the scene lacked probable cause to make a traffic stop in the first place, or the equipment used during a breathalyzer or blood test may have been defective. Moreover, the police officer might have cut corners and denied you of your rights. These are some examples that could be enough to get the charges dismissed or lessened.
If you have been charged with a DUI, please get in touch with jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys as soon as possible: (760) 630-2000. As a board-certified criminal law specialist, James N. Dicks can provide you with advice and direction in regard to facing a DUI.
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