California takes cases of drinking and driving seriously. Law enforcement officers are always on the watch for any suspicious cases of drunk driving. Therefore, prosecutors usually push to see DUI defendants facing harshest penalties, especially by leveling multiple charges against defendants. We at the San Diego DUI Attorney are always ready to get in touch with you if you are facing DUI or related charges so that we can help defend you. We advise you to contact our local Ballena DUI attorney as soon as possible so that they can advise you on how to proceed.

DUI in California

A person commits a DUI offense when they drive, operate, or control a vehicle while intoxicated beyond 0.08% BAC, which is the tolerable level. A driver may also commit a DUI offense even when their level of intoxication is below 0.08% for driving a vehicle recklessly. All the states have laws that may differ slightly on the meaning of operating a vehicle. Being in physical control of a car is evaluated during a trial by considering the following:

  • Whether the ignition key was in the car especially in its slot

  • Whether the engine was on or not

  • The position of the driver in the vehicle

  • Whether the vehicle had a mechanical problem that rendered it unable to operate

However, it is worth noting that the allowable threshold of drinking and driving to the level of 0.08% BAC only applies to adults aged above 21 years. The zero-tolerance laws against drinking and driving imposed on persons aged below 21 years prevent minors from increasing cases of accidents, deaths, and injuries. This is because underage drivers are likely to engage in drinking games and get overwhelmed by alcohol.

Additionally, young drivers are prone to distraction, such as using their mobile phones, grooming, over speeding and careless driving, and they are overwhelmed by alcohol easily. They are also likely to engage in speed exhibitions for allegedly thinking that the other motorists are trying to outdo them in the road. Thus, the law does not tolerate any form or level of intoxication among minors. Young drivers face the penalty of driving license suspension for a year:

  • If the police arrest them while driving with a BAC of 0.01% or higher

  • If they refuse to have the breathalyzer or the preliminary alcohol training administered to them

  • If they could not complete the PAS test or fail in the field sobriety test

When arrested for DUI, you face charges for the following offenses:

  • A per se DUI charge for a BAC exceeding the applicable limit

  • A DUI impairment for being intoxicated to the level of being unable to control the vehicle, even when no forbidding conditions interfere with the driving

The DUI Stop

The traffic police cannot arrest any driver without reasonable suspicion. The only time the officers do not need reasonable suspicion is when stopping drivers at a DUI checkpoint for routine examination on road users. On those sobriety checkpoints, they may decide to stop the cars following patterns. For instance, the officers may stop every 8th car passing on that road. Thus, they can only order a driver to pull over on other road sections for the undoubted observation that they are breaking the traffic rules. DUI may not necessarily be the primary cause for a stop. The police can stop a driver when:

  • The car has mechanical problems such as worn-out tires, burn out rear light, or missing a side mirrors

  • The driver reacts slowly to the traffic lights

  • They tail-gait other motorists along a road stretch

  • Accelerates and brakes inconsistently

  • Driving at night with dim or no lights

  • Swerves or drifts along the highway

  • Drives on the wrong lane or middle of the highway

  • Has signs of possible intoxication such as leaning close to the windshield, a tired look, or visible cans of alcohol

  • Has problems turning the car or parking

It is from these signs the police begin collecting evidence to arrest you.

The Officer’s Observation

After the officer stops you, they begin making observations from that instance. They record any sign of intoxication from their interaction with you. They may take the following to strengthen the evidence for DUI arrest:

  • Stopping instantly

  • The odor of alcohol from your breathe

  • Having difficulties picking your driving license, insurance, and the car's registration

  • Fumbling with simple questions

  • Bloodshot or watery eyes

  • Any statement that suggests you took some amount of alcohol before driving

  • A walking gait that indicates you are drunk such as staggering

Conducting Search in the Car

Sometimes the police may stop you and decide to search your car. They could base the probable cause on any sight or smell that yields incriminating evidence. The officer documents all the evidence hinting that you are drunk. In this case, the officers do not need the warrant to search your automobile.

The police can also search the car when you give them consent to do so. In both of these instances, they examine the passengers' rows and cargo space.

When the evidence related to the drunk driving emerges, the police conducts the following tests:

  1. Preliminary Alcohol Screening

The officer screens the driver's breath using a portable breath test (PBT) device, also called a breathalyzer. PBT measures the level of blood alcohol concentration of the driver. The breathalyzers are not reliable like the urine, blood, and breathe chemical tests conducted in the police station or the hospital.

Thus, they only give the police a hint on the level of the driver's intoxication. This PAS helps in building the probable cause for the arrest as opposed to gathering the court evidence. When the PAS results yield BAC results close to 0.08% or above, they arrest the driver. Further analysis of your BAC takes place in the police station or the nearest hospital.

PAS screening using the breathalyzer may not be reliable. Flawed readings result from the following reasons:

  • Medical conditions such as diabetes and other gastral infections that give false positive readings

  • Improper maintenance of the breathalyzers such as poor calibration

  • Excessive use of the breathalyzer without sterilizing it

  • Presence of alcoholic food article in the mouth or traces of vomit

  • Lack of proper knowledge of screening

  1. Field Sobriety Tests

While the officer uses the PAS test to gauge the level of BAC, the FST is used to assess impairment. Additionally, the police use the FST to check for how you can follow instructions. This test of coordination has to do with the degree of safely operating the vehicle. The jury uses evidence for the probable cause for DUI arrest from FSTs to judge the defendants in states with DUI per se laws.

The following are the three tests that comprise the standard FST:

  • Walk and turn test

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus

  • One-leg stand test

Drivers with the following qualities cannot give reliable scores on the FST or are exempt from those tests:

  • Inner-ear injuries, which affect their balance

  • Aged above 65 years

  • Having back or leg injuries

  • Overweight individuals

  • Drivers wearing high-heeled shoes that are above two inches

  • Driver wearing tight outfits

The police the following signs of intoxication to build the probable cause of DUI:

  • Taking the tests before the officer finishes giving instructions

  • Difficulty maintaining balance

  • Drifting from the straight line

  • Losing balance when turning

  • Appearing to use the hands to balance

  • Stepping on the ground with the other leg

Mandatory Consent to Chemical Tests

As mentioned above, the FST and PAS tests are voluntary before the arrest. However, declining any of them has consequences after an arrest. The implied consent laws require all motorists to comply with chemical BAC determination. Declining a BAC chemical test after the arrest prompts the officer to seek a blood draw warrant to get the blood sample. The following are the consequences that result from refusing to submit the needed sample for chemical tests:

  • Payment of fines

  • Suspension of driving license for six months

  • Installation of Ignition Interlock Device

  • In some states you the offender faces a separate charge for flouting the implied consent laws as discussed below

The department of motors in your state imposes the last two penalties on the DUI offenders. The IID ensures the offender does not consume alcohol and drive within the period imposed by the DMV. The driver has to blow an alcohol-free breathe on the IID when starting the vehicle. All along the journey, the driver has to continue adding extra breath samples to the IID. The IID relays the results to the DMV systems for necessary action.

A police officer will offer you a temporary license after confiscating your original one. Your Ballena DUI attorney has only ten days to request for DUI hearing to prevent license suspension. Losing a DMV hearing leads to the suspension of the license for the determined period.

Other Crimes Charged Alongside DUI

Committing a DUI offense may be often accompanied by other crimes that are chargeable in court. A person may injure or kill a pedestrian or a motorist while driving under the influence. While intoxicated, other drivers may engage the police in a struggle when defying DUI screening. The circumstances of arrest shed light on the possible additional charges that a driver faces besides DUI.

Your Ballena DUI attorney will evaluate the details of your DUI case to explain to you other reasonable charges you may expect and an overview of their penalties. Consequently, they will prepare to defend you. The following are other offenses that a driver may face alongside the DUI:

  1. Breaking the Laws of Implied Consent

When police establish a reasonable suspicion against you while on the road, they may want to carry out the BAC screening by either blood, urine, hair follicle, or a breath sample. This DUI examination establishes whether your intoxication is above the legal limits. If the chemical test is positive, the prosecutor uses the police report to charge you for a per se DUI. Refusing to cooperate with the police can be an offense on its own since one breaks the implied consent laws, which requires you to:

  • Consent to BAC determination using the appropriate sample afforded by the situation when the police pull you over for displaying a suspicious behavior

  • Participate in doing non-standard sobriety tests (FST), and standard tests FST as the officer deem fit

  • Driving around with your driving license and attaching the emblem of insurance and producing them when requested to do so

A driver who refuses to take part in FST may not always be held guilty. The situations below release drivers from the obligation of taking FST:

  • Overweight drivers whose weight exceeds the average level by 50 pounds are exempt from some FST. Their health conditions affect balance and mobility. The results of the tests may not give significant results on intoxication rates.

  • Senior drivers aged above 65 years and above are also exempt. Most of them use walking aids, and this affects their stability.

  • Uneven ground surface cannot give FST results free from bias or error; hence police should not ask to test a driver on such spots.

  • Persons with disabilities or injuries that compromise the ability to carry out the tests are also exempt.

  • Drivers with balance problems, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, and forbidding clothing are not eligible for such tests.

  • When the police conduct the tests rapidly or successively, they overwhelm drivers to make mistakes. The police should not exert unnecessary pressure on the driver but conduct the tests with a reasonable degree of rapidity.

  1. Possession of Drugs

A driver faces possession of drug charges when the police find drugs in their vehicle during a DUI investigation. The assumption supporting the arrest is that the driver may use the drugs while driving, hence increasing the risk of accidents. The driver may also face this charge if the drugs found in the vehicle are illegal in the state. Another possible situation for facing this charge is when arrested transporting narcotics or any controlled substances for sale.

However, the arresting police should follow the correct searching and seizure procedures for their investigative evidence to be admissible in the possession-of-drugs crime trial. Your Ballena DUI attorney will determine whether this charge holds or the police likely planted the drugs to gain an advantage in the DUI case. The attorney will also examine if the search and arrest procedures can be legally justified.

  1. Reckless Driving

The driver driving under intoxication may flout traffic regulations, which perhaps formed the basis of reasonable suspicion and probable cause for arrest. The reckless driving is manifesting a willful disregard of motorists’ and other road users’ rights as well as the safety property. Over speeding, changing lanes, carelessly ignoring the red lights, and overtaking are some of the instances of reckless driving.

The prosecutor always has to show that the driver knowingly broke traffic regulations. Proving the carelessness is straightforward since the issuance of the driving license affirms that the driver is trained on the traffic conduct necessary for driving.

  1. Exhibition of Speed

A driver faces the exhibition of speed charge on two circumstances:

  • When you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and primarily drives a car at speeds considered unsafe or lethal to give another motorist, pedestrian, occupant, or police a particular impression

  • When your attorney is negotiating a plea for you to be judged for an exhibition of speed instead of the DUI case, especially if the prosecutor lacks comprehensive evidence to charge you with the DUI offense

The evidentiary flaws that lead to charging a person with the exhibition of speed as opposed to the DUI charge may result from the following:

  • Police report whose details do not add up

  • Inaccuracies with the blood or breath samples making their results unreliable

  • Questionable credibility of the officer from the past reports

The defense attorney, though rarely granted, can take this course of defense due to the advantages offered upon conviction for their client. A sentence for the exhibition of speed has relative advantages such as:

  • The probation period for the speed exhibition is shorter

  • The jail term penalty attached to the exhibition of speed does not exceed three months

  • The conviction for the exhibition of speed is not as severe as a DUI charge or its subsequent

  1. Wrongful Death

The potential carelessness posed by the calming nature of alcohol makes the intoxicated driver negligent in observing safety regulations. The potential resulting accidents may lead to the deaths of individuals. The survivors of these victims can file a wrongful death claim for compensation if they can prove that the death resulted from the intoxicated driver’s negligence.

Find a Ballena DUI Attorney Near Me

The chances of getting away with a DUI offense in California hangs in the balance. However, you have the option of hiring a top-notch attorney whose experience stands out. The legal reputation and expertise of our attorneys at the San Diego DUI Attorney could be what you need if you have a DUI case in Ballena. We will represent you and even bargain a plea on your behalf for charges with lesser consequences, if the prosecutor has overwhelming evidence against you. Give us a call at 619-535-7150 for more information.