A DUI charge may be overwhelming to handle on your own, especially with the many DUI laws that have to be considered when pressing the charges. Additionally, when most people get pulled over for suspected DUI, they usually do not know how to handle themselves to avoid more trouble. A few others do not know the consequences they would face when convicted of a DUI offense.
The most crucial thing to understand is that a DUI charge takes many forms, and each form has its repercussions. The consequences can be severe, depending on the DUI charges you are facing. However, all is not lost. You can still avoid these penalties by hiring an experienced DUI attorney to represent you in the court proceedings. At San Diego DUI Attorney, we provide legal representation to any person in Banner and the whole of San Diego facing any DUI-related charges. If you have been arrested on DUI allegations, reach out to us as soon as possible. In this article, we look at the basics of a DUI charge, including DUI laws, penalties, and forms.
California DUI Laws
Several laws govern DUI in California to try and curb the drunk-driving problem. For starters, we have Vehicle Code 23152a, which is the subjective standard DUI law. This law makes it a criminal offense to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Being under the influence means your mental or physical abilities are impaired to a level that you can’t drive as good as a sober driver would. Note that you can be charged under this law even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below .08%. Other DUI laws include:
The Per Se Law
The DUI per se law is defined under VC 23152b. The law provides that it is an offense to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. Generally, this law establishes that after a person is proven to have a BAC of .08% or more, he/she will be considered by law to be under the influence. This is irrespective of whether they are actually impaired or under the influence. Therefore, in circumstances like these, the arresting officer will need no further proof of impairment or intoxication to charge you with DUI.
Therefore, alcohol drinking persons must know that irrespective of how sober they feel, it’s their BAC that counts when they decide to drive. Should the BAC be more than the per se standard legal limit, it will legally be presumed that they are impaired. The per se law makes it simple for the prosecutor to prove that a person was impaired without needing more of an on-scene assessment like sobriety testing.
Still, the DUI per se law doesn't mean that if you register a .08% BAC or more, then you will directly be convicted of DUI. For instance, with the help of an experienced Banner DUI Attorney, you can challenge the validity of the test results, the equipment used to administer the test, or the procedure used. Challenging the charges may have you acquitted.
Note that the per se law doesn’t apply in DUI of drugs.
The Implied Consent Law
After a police officer pulls you over for suspected DUI, he/she will generally check for any signs that show you are impaired. He/she may also ask you to do a breathalyzer test so he/she can determine your BAC. However, not every driver willingly agrees to do a breath test, and a police officer cannot force drunk-driving suspects to blow into a breathalyzer.
Under the implied consent law, drivers are required to consent to a breath test after a DUI arrest for the officer to determine if they are impaired. Note that the law applies only to breath tests after a driver is lawfully arrested for DUI. This means you can still decline to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening breath test before being arrested.
However, If you refuse to do the test, you will be said to have violated the implied consent law. In this case, you risk an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for one year. You may also receive enhanced penalties that add to the standard DUI penalties.
Note that implied consent law applies to all drivers in Banner. This includes state residents who hold a California driver’s license as well as non-state residents who have an out-of-state driver’s license.
The Zero Tolerance Law
You may not feel drunk. Even better, you may be under the standard legal limit for BAC required for a regular DUI. However, you would still be in trouble if you are under the acceptable alcohol consumption age of 21 years. In Banner, there are different legal standards for underage drunk-drivers.
VC 23136 is the zero-tolerance law on underage drunk-driving. You will have violated this law if you’re under 21 years old, and you operate a vehicle with any measurable alcohol content in your blood system. Remember, it is not a must that you are under the influence or impaired to be charged with underage drunk-driving. Even driving with a BAC of as low as 0.01% would get you arrested. This means even taking a glass of wine at dinner may subject an underage driver to a drunk-driving charge.
VC 23136 is not an actual crime, but a civil violation. However, if you do not take a step to challenge the citation, you can be subjected to a mandatory driver’s license suspension of one year. And if you don’t possess a driver’s license at the time of the arrest, you will be subjected to a delay of one year in obtaining one.
If you have been arrested for underage DUI, you should talk to your Banner DUI Attorney as soon as possible. This is to give the attorney ample time to gather evidence and build a defense strategy that could help you win the charges.
DUI Penalties in Banner
DUI in Banner carries severe penalties. The penalties are imposed depending on how many DUI convictions you have faced within ten years. They also depend on the facts of your case. They are as follows:
First offense DUI
When you get convicted of drunk-driving in Banner for the first time; that will be your first DUI offense. The possible penalties for a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense include:
- A maximum of six months of a county jail time
- Three to five years of summary probation
- A court-approved DUI program for three to nine months
- Fines and assessments of between $1600 and $2300
- Driver’s license suspension for six months, and in other cases one year
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation for a maximum of six months
- Insurance consequences
Second Offense DUI
A second offense DUI occurs when you get convicted of DUI for a second time within ten years of the commission of the first offense. The penalties for a second misdemeanor DUI offense include:
- Between 96 hours and one year of a county jail sentence
- Summary probation for a maximum of five years
- A maximum fine of $1,000
- 18 or 30 months of a court-approved DUI School program
- Assessment fee
- Up to one year of mandatory installation of an IID
- Up to two years of license suspension
Third Offense DUI
A third DUI offense is charged if, within ten years, you get arrested for drunk-driving for the third time. The consequences for a misdemeanor third offense include:
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Assessment fee
- Informal probation for a maximum of five years
- Between 120 days and one year of a county jail sentence
- Two years of mandatory IID installation
- A DUI School program for 30 months
- A habitual traffic offender title by the DMV
- License suspension for a maximum of three years
Fourth/Felony DUI Offense
You will be charged with felony DUI if you acquire four or more drunk-driving convictions within ten years. The consequences for a felony DUI are:
- A fine of up to $1,000
- 16 months, two or three years of a state prison sentence
- Mandatory installation of an IID for one year at the minimum
- Up to four years of license suspension
- A habitual traffic offender title
DUI Causing Injury
DUI causing injury is defined under VC 23153. This is a wobbler offense, meaning it a prosecutor can charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor. How the prosecutor chooses to charge you depends on the facts of the case and your criminal record. If convicted of a drunk-driving offense where another person who is not you sustained an injury or injuries, you may face the following consequences:
Misdemeanor DUI causing injury
- A fine of up to $5,000
- Between five days and one year of a jail sentence
- Summary probation for three to five years
- Up to 30 months of a court-approved alcohol program
- License suspension for a maximum of one year
- Mandatory installation of an IID for up to six months
- Restitution to the injured victims
Felony DUI causing injury
- 16 months to 10 years in State prison, and an additional and consecutive one to six years of a prison sentence based on the number of injured victims and the degree of their injuries
- A fine of up to $5,000
- Up to 30 months of a court-approved DUI School program
- A three years habitual traffic offender title
- A strike on your criminal record as per the Three Strike’s Laws
- Mandatory installation of an IID for a maximum of three years
- License suspension
- Restitution to the injured parties
Note that a DUI that results in death is sentenced differently. Its penalties could include a strike on a defendant’s criminal record and life imprisonment.
Additional Terms of Probation
Sometimes Banner courts can sentence you to probation instead of a jail/prison sentence. If this is the case, you will be required to adhere to certain conditions. They include:
- You should not operate a vehicle with any detectable alcohol amount in your system
- You should not decline to take chemical tests of your breath, blood, or urine if you are rearrested for DUI
- You should not commit any other crime
Also, based on the facts of your case, you may be required to:
- Attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings
- Pay restitution to the injured victims if you caused an accident
- Participate in the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Program
If you violate any of the terms mentioned above, you may be subjected to penalties associated with violating probation terms.
A standard DUI charge carries severe consequences already. However, certain circumstances can lead to increased consequences that go beyond the typical sentences that are usually imposed after a drunk-driving conviction. If aggravating factors are present in a case, they can lead to increased punishment by increasing the scope of potential sentences. Or, they can raise the actual charges to a higher level.
Also, note that aggravating factors will enhance your DUI punishment irrespective of whether it is your first, second, third, fourth, or subsequent offense. The following are examples of circumstances that can result in an aggravated drunk-driving charge with increased penalties in Banner.
- DUI with a passenger under 14 years in the vehicle
- Multiple drunk-driving convictions
- DUI on a revoked or suspended license
- DUI at excessive speed/ reckless driving
- Refusing to take chemical tests
- Driving with a BAC of 0.15% or more
- Causing an accident
The type of increased penalty you get for any of the above aggravating factors depends on the facts of your DUI case and your criminal record. However, if you can get an experienced Banner DUI Attorney by your side, he/she may succeed striking off these aggravating factors from your case. He/she may do this by building a strong defense that would convince the judge to reconsider, including the factors in your sentence. In turn, you will receive lenient penalties than you would have received with these factors present.
Alternative DUI Sentencing Options in Banner
Alternative DUI sentencing options refer to alternative sentences other than jail/prison time in case of a drunk-driving conviction. They may include:
- Community service
- Cal-Trans roadside work
- House arrest or electronic monitoring
- Residence in an environment with sober-living people
- Confinement in a city or private jail
Attorneys who do not specialize in DUI defense might not even be aware that these alternative sentences exist. Or, if they know, they might not know how best to persuade the judge or prosecuting attorney to get to impose them. That is why it is critical to hire specifically a Banner DUI Attorney who specializes in DUI defense to defend your case. He/she would know what strategies to employ to minimize your DUI penalties.
Plea Bargains and Charge Reductions for DUI
Plea bargains in DUI cases refer to negotiated alternatives to escalating a case to a jury trial. Typically, a plea bargain involves either:
- A reduction in charges
- Sentence reduction
To get a reduction in your sentence, you first plead guilty to a DUI offense. In turn, you are presented with several agreed-upon penalty suggestions. Receiving these suggestions avoids the uncertainty you would have while waiting to find out what sentence the judge would impose if you are convicted at trial.
A reduction in charges involves you admitting guilt of a lesser charge. A reduced charge is a result of a negotiation between the prosecutor and your attorney. Generally, if your charges are reduced, you will face lighter penalties compared to the original conviction of DUI.
Plea bargaining comes with several advantages. For instance, if you have a sentence reduction, chances are you will have a more lenient sentence, and you get to know what punishment awaits you in advance. On the other hand, if you have a charge reduction, you may not be subjected to a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license. Also, in other cases, there will be no priorability. By this, it means your case won’t be treated as a priorable offense. If a crime is priorable, it will count as a prior offense if you are later convicted of a DUI offense within a ten-year look-back period for drunk-driving. Other advantages of a charge reduction include:
- Lower fines
- No or little jail time
- No compulsory DUI School program
- A lower negative effect on your insurance
- Reduced stigma as compared to a DUI conviction
Note that various charge reductions would still be priorable. By this, it means they would still be considered as prior convictions if you are rearrested for DUI of alcohol or drugs. For example, wet reckless still counts as a priorable offense.
Typical forms of DUI charge reductions
The most known charge reductions that your Banner DUI Attorney can bargain for include:
- Wet reckless
- Dry reckless
- Exhibition of speed
- Drunk in public
- Traffic infraction
- Drinking alcohol in a vehicle
Get a Competent DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
The most crucial step after being charged with DUI is obtaining the best legal representation from a skilled DUI defense attorney. This will help boost the chances of beating the charges. At San Diego DUI Attorney, we make it our duty to ensure you get the best probable outcome for your case. Immediately you contact us, we will start assessing your case and determine which defense best works to get you acquitted or your charges reduced. If you are in Banner and need of DUI defense, call us at 619-535-7150 as soon as possible to schedule a consultation about your case.