The severity of DUI has made it one of the most severely punished offenses in California. DUI is one of the offenses where previous offenses count during a prosecution. Therefore, you face stiffer penalties with every crime you commit within the 10 year look-back period.

DUI charges can affect your driver's license and, in some cases, your professional license. Therefore, you must hire a DUI attorney to fight these charges on your behalf.

The San Diego DUI Attorney has represented defendants charged with DUI and related offenses for many years. We have an established reputation of being among the most reliable Camp Pendleton South DUI attorneys to fight your charges.

DUI Overview

You are said to be driving under the influence if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. A BAC of .08% is the per se limit, which applies in most situations. However, you can be charged with other forms of DUI based on your age, the type of vehicle you are operating, and your BAC level.

Some of the offenses will include:

  1. Underage DUI

Drivers aged 21 or younger who drive with a BAC of .01% or higher are guilty of underage DUI. Underage DUI is an offense punishable by a license suspension for one year. Alternatively, the DMV can impose a one-year delay in obtaining a driver’s license if you were unlicensed when committing the offense.

  1. Commercial DUI

Commercial drivers are held at a higher standard when operating commercial vehicles. They must exercise additional caution due to the risk associated with accidents due to commercial vehicles.

Commercial drivers must not drive with a BAC of .04% or higher. In case convicted for a DUI offense twice, a commercial driver loses his or her license for life. Even an expungement cannot save your license. Commercial drivers should hire a dedicated Camp Pendleton South DUI Attorney to defend them against DUI charges.

DUI is a priorable offense with a look-back period of ten years. The penalties increase with each subsequent DUI as follows:

The first DUI offense in ten years is usually a misdemeanor. The penalties typically include a maximum term of six months in county jail. The court will fine you any amount between $390 and $1000 and require you to attend a DUI class for between three and nine months. The court will also order a license suspension of up to ten months (but you can install an IID for six months).

The second DUI offense within ten years is also a misdemeanor but with greater penalties. A conviction for a second offense attracts a minimum sentence of 96 hours to one year in county jail, $390 to $1000 in fines and suspension of your driver’s license for up to 2 years (you can install an IID for one year). You must also attend a DUI program for between 18 to 30 months.

The third DUI offense is also a misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of 120 days to a year in county jail. The court will also suspend your license for three years and require you to spend thirty months in an approved DUI school.

The fourth and subsequent DUI offenses are felonies punishable by up to three years in state prison. The court also imposes fines of between $390 and $1000, license suspension for five years, and a DUI school program for between 18 and 30 months.

DUI with injury is a serious offense that can be charged as a felony even for a first offense. DUI with injury is a California wobbler. The penalties for the misdemeanor offense include:

  • A minimum of five days and a maximum of one year in county jail

  • License suspension for up to three years

  • Victim restitution

  • Mandatory attendance of a DUI program

Felony DUI with injury can be punished by:

  • A state prison sentence of between 16 months and 16 years

  • Fines of up to $5000

  • Restitution to injured parties

  • One year license suspension

  • 18 or 30 months of mandatory DUI school

Other DUI related offenses include:

Aggravated DUI

When you commit a DUI with several aggravating factors, you are guilty of aggravated DUI. These aggravating factors include:

  • DUI causing property damage

  • DUI with injury

  • DUI with a BAC of .20% and above

  • DUI with a minor passenger who is under 14 years (child endangerment)

  • Refusal to submit a chemical breath or blood test

  • DUI while on probation

  • You drive under the influence with a suspended, revoked or expired license

  • Too many DUI prior offenses within a short period

  • DUI hit and run

DUI Hit and Run

You are guilty of DUI hit and run when you cause an accident while DUI and leave the scene without providing the necessary information. In case you are in an accident, you must exchange information with the other drivers or parties. You must also help any victims who have been injured and notify law enforcement officials. Failing to do so could result in criminal charges. The penalties you get will depend on the outcome of the accident. These penalties include:

  • Up to one year in county jail (where no injuries or death occurred)

  • Up to four years in state prison if injuries or death occurred

  • Fines between $1000 and $10000

  • Up to six months in county jail if no one is injured or killed, but property gets damaged

DUI License Suspension

A DUI can trigger a license suspension by the DMV and the court. The DMV is the administrative body, which keeps your driving record, including violations. A DUI is a violation that can result in license suspension after ten days of your arrest.

The DMV usually gives you a grace period of ten days after the arrest. If you do not request a hearing to defend your license, the DMV will automatically suspend it after thirty days. You will find information about the same on the notice of suspension the arresting officer gives you upon confiscating your license.

Contact a Camp Pendleton South DUI Attorney immediately after a DUI arrest. You can also contact the DMV yourself and request a hearing. Remember that you have to request that hearing within ten calendar days of your arrest.

A DMV hearing allows you to present evidence to challenge the license suspension. The goal of the hearing is to establish whether:

  • The officer had probable cause to stop you and conduct a DUI investigation

  • The arresting officer had probable cause to arrest you

  • You were driving with a BAC of .08% or higher

  • The officer advised you of the consequences of refusing to submit a chemical test

  • You refused to submit a chemical test even after the warning

You can have a DMV hearing over the phone or physically. However, this does not undermine the importance of the hearing. Therefore, you must have a DUI attorney representing you.

The DMV follows the rules of evidence, with which you may be unfamiliar. Your attorney can evaluate your case to identify any misconduct that could have contributed to an unlawful stop, investigation, or arrest.

Having a lawyer represent you at the hearing also helps the attorney gather relevant evidence to use for your defense during the criminal case.

DUI Probation

Most DUI defense attorneys negotiate the release of a defendant on probation. DUI probation allows you to serve after a conviction without having to go to jail. Therefore, you can maintain contact with your family and keep working.

However, the court will require you to adhere to certain terms and conditions. These may include:

  • Paying fines

  • Paying victim restitution

  • Completing DUI school

  • Restrictions against driving with a detectable amount of alcohol

  • License suspension

  • Depending on your DUI criminal history, you might have to spend several days in jail

  • You are to abstain from breaking any laws (committing a misdemeanor or felony offense is a violation of your probation terms)

  • You must agree to submit DUI breath or blood tests if arrested for a DUI

Probation usually lasts for three to five years. You must report to a probation officer if you are on felony probation.

Our Camp Pendleton South DUI Attorney will fight to secure probation in case of a conviction. The attorney will also advise you on the expected conduct during the probation period and defends you in case of a violation.

One of the common DUI probation violations is driving on a suspended license. You can avoid this situation by installing an IID in your car.

Ignition interlock devices allow you to drive anywhere without restrictions. However, the device tracks your breath to detect any traces of alcohol. Usually, if the device detects alcohol before you drive, the car cannot start. The device also requests random samples as you drive and submits a log of your performance.

Sometimes, the court may order you to install an IID if:

  • You had a BAC of .15% or higher

  • You refused to submit a breath or blood test

  • You are convicted for the second DUI offense

  • You want to have unrestricted driving privileges

Fighting DUI Charges

The best defense against DUI charges is to present legal defenses to challenge:

  • The lawfulness of you stop, investigation or arrest

  • The evidence of the prosecution

  • Any conduct by the law enforcement or lab testing officials that could have compromised the results of your BAC readings

Challenging these aspects begins with a careful examination of the DUI process from the DUI stop to the arrest. Police officers must follow certain regulations before they stop a driver. The officer must have probable cause to stop you. Probable cause could include signs of distracted driving or breaking other traffic laws.

Even after lawfully stopping you, the officer must have probable cause of investigating a DUI. The officer can proceed with a DUI investigation if he or she has a reason to believe that you are under the influence.

However, an officer does not require probable cause to investigate a DUI at a DUI checkpoint. However, the checkpoint must meet all the legal standards established.

You can challenge the evidence of the prosecution if it was obtained unlawfully, or is insufficient to prove your guilt. For example, the accuracy of the results is questionable if mishandling or tampering occurred.

You can also challenge the accuracy of the preliminary alcohol screening test, as well as field sobriety tests. Inaccuracies in PAS results occur due to radio frequency interference, poorly calibrated Breathalyzer, and mishandling by the officials.

Field sobriety tests can also mislead the official into believing that you are under the influence. However, the accuracy of these tests differs from one person and depending on the surrounding circumstances. For example, standing on one foot can be hard if you spent the whole day walking or are in uncomfortable shoes or clothing.

You can also challenge the evidence by indicating that you have another condition that causes signs of intoxication. For example, if you were fatigued, you may display some of the objective symptoms used by the officer to determine whether you might be intoxicated.

In other cases, you are just a bad driver. Your driving pattern might lead an officer to think you are driving under the influence. However, bad driving is evidence of drunkenness.

The right DUI defense can achieve several results, including:

  • Your attorney might convince the prosecution not to file charges (If you act earlier)

  • Dismissal of your case

  • Reduction of the charges to either wet or dry reckless

  • Acquittal at trial

  • Reduced sentencing or alternative sentencing

While most defendants hope that the case can go away, the result of your case depends on the evidence against you and the strength of your defense.

California DUI School

The court usually requires that DUI convicts attend an approved DUI school as part of the probation requirements. The program lasts three to thirty months, depending on the gravity of the offense. The aim of attending DUI School is to provide alcohol education and prevention.

The court recognizes that drunk driving has adverse effects on society. It, therefore, seeks to find a solution by educating drivers on the risks of drunk driving. The length of the program varies depending on the offense. The common duration for the program includes:

  • The twelve-hour program for those convicted for a wet reckless charge (after a plea bargain). Underage drivers (under 21) must also attend the program for a first DUI offense.

  • The three-month program for those convicted for a first time DUI with a BAC of less than .20%

  • The nine-month program for a first, sometimes second DUI conviction with a BAC of more than .20%

  • An 18-month program for a second time DUI offense

  • A 30-month program for most subsequent offenses usually with aggravating factors such as an extremely high BAC

These DUI school programs consist of counseling sessions, group counseling, community service, alcohol and drug education, and education on DUI laws. DUI schools also provide the Watson admonition, which warns that you could be charged with murder if you cause the death of another person while DUI.

You must pay for the DUI program from your pocket. The cost will depend on the provider and the duration of your program. You can contact different approved providers to get the cost of the program and the payment options. The cost of the program ranges between $270 and $3000.

If you cannot afford the amount, you can request the provider to analyze your situation and offer a fee waiver. The analysis will include evaluating your documentation of income and other relevant documents about your financial status. Depending on what the provider finds, he or she can reduce the payment.

Note that you can still drive on a suspended lesson to go to the DUI School. However, you could also install an IID to continue driving anywhere.

The court requires that you attend these programs without fail. Therefore, it will order you to provide proof of enrollment within 21 days of the sentencing. You must also provide a certificate of completion upon completing the program successfully.

In addition to attending classes (or making up for missed classes), you must remain sober and be ready to provide chemical tests (going to class while under the influence could result in your expulsion from the program.

It is normal to have questions about the best program to attend to meet your court-ordered obligations. Our Camp Pendleton South DUI Attorney can help you locate a court-approved provider in your location and provide additional guidance.

Find a DUI Attorney Near Me

An arrest for a DUI does not automatically doom you to jail or for other criminal consequences. With the right defense, you can have your case dismissed or be charged for a lesser offense. You can also eliminate the negative consequences of a criminal conviction through an expungement.

DUI laws are often complicated and could result in additional charges of which you are unaware. Representation by an attorney makes a significant difference since a lawyer understands these laws and has the courtroom experience as well.

You should never fight DUI charges alone. Contact our local Camp Pendleton South DUI Attorneys who are part of the San Diego DUI Attorney for representation. Call our offices at 619-535-7150 for an evaluation of your case.