An officer can pull you over for drunk driving or if they suspect that you are intoxicated with drugs. The circumstances surrounding your DUI case determine the degree of penalties you might face. For instance, you may receive felony penalties if a person was injured after a DUI accident. Otherwise, most DUI cases carry misdemeanor penalties when there are no aggravating factors such as injuries, deaths, and DUI with a minor passenger. Whether it is your first time or subsequent DUI arrest, San Diego DUI Attorney can help in protecting your rights through legal representation if you are in Chula Vista, California.

DUI Arrest

An officer will pull you over at a checkpoint or a traffic stop, then ask for your license and registration. If the officer notices any signs of intoxication, a series of field sobriety tests will follow. A BAC test may also be carried out to determine the level of alcohol in your blood, but this is done with your consent after you are arrested.

Generally, DUI arrests follow when your preliminary field tests imply that you are intoxicated. As mentioned before, blood and/or urine tests may be carried out to determine the concentration of your blood alcohol as well as the type of drug (if any) in your body. These tests determine the type of charges that you can face as described below.

Misdemeanor DUI Offense

According to the California Vehicle Code 23152(a), a DUI offense means that the driver was under influence of alcohol or drugs and the BAC of the driver was more than the usual legal limit of .08%. The driver must not have hurt or injured a person or destroyed any property for this offense to be a misdemeanor. In this case, you will be released after an arrest and booking. A summon document with your court dates and a temporary license will be given to you upon release. By now, your license will have been submitted to the DMV. It is important to have your Chula Vista DUI attorney contact the DMV on your behalf before 10 days after the arrest.

For a first time misdemeanor DUI conviction, you will face the following charges; jail time of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, six months license suspension, up to three months DUI program, ignition interlock device (IID) installation for up to three years, three to five years of informal probation and higher insurance premiums.

If you have been arrested again because of a DUI and you have a similar charge in the last ten years, you are a second-time DUI offender. For a second time offender, you will face harsher charges; license suspension of up to two years, $1,800 to $2,700 as fines, three to five years of probation, one year jail time, 18 months DUI program, DUI treatment program, AA meetings and obtain an SR22 insurance certificate.

Subsequent DUI offenses are termed as habitual if they occur between ten years since the first offense. For a third time offender, they may face; 120 days to 1 year Jail time, fines, 18-month alcohol or drug program, and three-year license suspension.


DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) is not an offense that prosecutors can easily prove. This is because there is no scientific way of determining the quantity of drugs that can impair a person’s driving even though the DUID laws require that the prosecutor must prove that the defendant had used drugs that would impair his/her driving abilities. Still, a drug recognition expert may be called upon to determine if you were under the influence of drugs, in which case, they will provide the kind of drugs that you used. This is done through blood or urine tests, both of which are prone to technical errors and wrong procedures that could give false readings. Our attorneys can use the possibility of technical or procedural errors to help defend you from DUID charges.

Felony DUI

It is a typical misdemeanor offense if you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in San Diego California when facing the first, second or third DUI charges. A California DUI can turn into a felony DUI, if; a DUI results to injury or death of another person, multiple DUI convictions within a span of ten years and if you have had a prior felony DUI convictions.

A fourth-time offense is usually treated as a felony with the following penalties; state prison time of up to 3 years, fines, four-year license suspension, complete an 18-month drug or alcohol program. Ignition interlock devices and DUI education will be imposed on habitual offenders.

Other circumstances that make your DUI charges to be heightened are; if you are driving with a BAC of .15% or higher, if you have a minor under 14 as a passenger, reckless driving with speeds over the legal limit and if you are under 21 years of age and has consumed any alcohol.

Felony DUIs can occur under two circumstances as described below:

Felony DUI due to multiple convictions

A California DUI is a “priorable” offense. This means that every time a defendant commits an offense similar to a prior one, they will get stiffer penalties and charges. If you commit more than three DUI offenses, you will likely face felony charges. Prior offenses will include a California DUI, a wet reckless or a conviction out of state that will be equal to a California DUI.

Felony DUI due to a previous felony DUI

If you have previously been convicted of a felony DUI because you caused harm or death to a person, or have more than one felony DUI charge, you will be charged with a felony DUI. No matter how less or be it a misdemeanor DUI, you will face the charges of a felony DUI even when the ten year period has elapsed.

DUI Causing Injury or Death

If you committed a DUI felony by injuring or killing another person, you can be charged in three ways:

  1. California Vehicle Code 23513 VC

California Vehicle Code 23513(a) states that is unlawful for a person under the influence of alcohol to drive and cause injury to another person. V.C 23513(b) prohibits a driver with a BAC of .08% to drive while V.C 23513(f) states that its unlawful for a person to drive under the influence of any drugs and cause bodily harm to another person.

To be convicted under this code, the prosecutor must prove that you drove recklessly or acted negligently and you injured a person.

Convictions for a Vehicle Code 23153 VC may vary depending on the nature of a particular case and if you have prior DUI charges within the previous ten years. If you have priors, your charges will exponentially increase in subsequent convictions. Since 2019, it became mandatory for a DUI offender to install IID (an ignition interlock device) for a set time.

For felony DUI with injury, you face the following charges; up to four years imprisonment, imprisonment for between three and six years if a victim suffers massive body harm or injury, a maximum of $5,000 fines, DUI school for 30 months, three years habitual traffic offender status, a strike on your record if another person suffers massive body injuries and license suspension for five years.

Your Chula Vista DUI attorney must ensure all protocols and procedures were adhered to while filing the charges. The attorney will use any issues found out by going through the BAC testing procedures, arrest, and investigation of your case.

Accident reconstruction experts give autonomous reports of accidents to determine whether you were at fault for the accident eventualities. Weather conditions, vehicle damage, road conditions and other relevant pieces of evidence will be put into consideration.

You could be charged with other offenses related to the VC 23153 DUI causing injury by the uniqueness of your situation. Some of these charges are:

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

This is charged under California PEN 191.5 PC. It is applicable if the driver was under influence or broke another law or his or her negligent act causes the death of another person.

Hit and run

If an accident occurs and the driver does not stop to provide his or her information or provide medical assistance to a person in need, they would be charged under VC 20001 or 20002 hit and run laws. VC 20001 is usually a felony because it involves the death or injuries of others. On the other hand, VC 20002 is usually a less severe hit and run crime as compared to VC 20002 crime.

Child endangerment

You can be charged with child endangerment if a minor was present in your car. If you are charged under Penal Code 273a child endangerment law, you can face a sentence of six years.

  1. Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated

Gross vehicular manslaughter

This occurs when a person unlawfully dies as a result of an accident caused by the driver’s gross negligence. This crime has the following components of crime: The driver was intoxicated, he or she committed an illegal act that led to the death of a person, he or she acted in gross negligence that led to the death of another person.

You face the following penalties; formal probation, up to $10,000 fine, up to ten years incarceration, and three years license suspension. If you have priors in Vehicle Code 23152 DUI, DUI with injury, Penal Code 192.5(a) or (b) while operating a boat, you would face from fifteen years to life imprisonment.

You should contact a Chula Vista DUI attorney to help you fight PEN 191.5(a) charges. Our efforts are centered on proving that during the accident, you were sober; you were not grossly negligent; your actions did not lead to the victim's death or you had an emergency that led to the act. These defenses can possibly reduce this charge to lighter misdemeanor PC 192.5(b) charges.

Ordinary vehicular manslaughter

Ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a person where the driver has committed California DUI without gross negligence. This crime has the following components of crime: The driver was under influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver committed an unlawful act that led to the death of a person, the driver acted in ordinary negligence and the ordinary negligent act caused the death of a person. Ordinary negligence means that you failed to act in a manner that a reasonable person would act to prevent foreseeable harm. You face charges if your negligent actions caused death eventually.

This can be are treated as misdemeanor charges or felony charges. Misdemeanor penalties include up to a one-year jail term, probation and a maximum of $1,000 fine. You do not lose your license for a misdemeanor charge. If it is a felony charge, you might end up paying up to $10,000 fine, formal probation, up to four years sentence, and one-year license suspension.

PEN 191.5(b) charge may be increased to PEN 191.5(a) charge if it is alleged that you acted in gross misconduct. You can also be tried for murder if you are a repeat DUI offender and have been educated on the dangers of DUI.

  1. DUI Murder

If a driver is intoxicated with a drug or an alcoholic beverage and causes a fatal accident, he or she would be convicted of second-degree murder under the California Penal Code 187. A person will be charged under PC 187 if the DUI was intentional, the driving under influence results to endangering human life, the DUI was deliberate and a true indication of disregard to human life.

A DUI is charged as murder in California if the defendant has prior DUI convictions, if he or she has attended a DUI school and if the defendant has been given a prior Watson warning.

The penalties you are likely to face for a DUI murder are fifteen years to life imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000 and a strike on your criminal record. If there were survivors in the accident, you can get an additional three to six years sentence for each survivor with substantial injury and an additional one year to your term for every survivor with lesser injuries.

Defense positions for a California DUI murder case will require the attorney to prove that the defendant was not driving under influence, the defendant’s actions were not intentional and did not cause the accident, and there was police and or prosecutorial delinquency.

License Suspension and Revocations

A police officer will take away your license if you refuse to submit to a chemical test after being arrested and if you have a BAC of .08% and over or .01% BAC for drivers under the age of 21 years.

You have to contact the DMV within ten days after your arrest to get a hearing. Otherwise, you lose your right to a hearing and your driving license is suspended after 30 days. Your Chula Vista DUI attorney can request and attend the hearing on your behalf. The attorney’s role is to make sure that the DMV does not suspend your license while collecting evidence that may be useful for your court case. If the DMV hearing result to a license suspension, it takes effect after receiving notice of suspension.

The penalties for a first time offender with a BAC of .08% or higher is a six-month license suspension and a one-year license suspension for refusal to take a chemical test. A second-time offender will face a two-year license suspension and refusal to do the test results in a license revocation for a period of two years. A third-time offender will be punished with a three-year revocation of the driving license for refusal to take a chemical test and having a BAC of .08% and higher. Fourth-time offenders face a four-year revocation of the license.

Proceedings in the DMV hearing do not interfere or affect the court hearing. A license suspension due to a felony charge will be imposed on a defendant immediately.

Note that the evidence for DUI crimes are usually based on the BAC results or field sobriety tests carried out to determine whether you are intoxicated. These results aren’t always reliable, thereby providing a window to mount a perfect defense. Other defenses that we can use are unlawful arrests, violation of your rights by the arresting officer, failure to read to you the Miranda rights among others.

Consult a DUI Attorney Near Me

California DUI penalties can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first DUI arrest. San Diego DUI attorney has experienced Chula Vista DUI attorneys that will walk with you, fight for your rights, and use the best legal defense strategies to reduce sentencing or ensure your case is dropped.

If you are wondering what to do after your license has been suspended or you have pending DUI charges in California, call 619-535-7150 to have a private consultation with an experienced attorney. The attorney will take time to listen to your DUI arrest charges and formulate the most effective legal strategy for your case.