California has put in place several laws to manage the drinking and driving problem. We have the per se law for adult motorists and the zero-tolerance law for minors. We also have the implied consent law that requires every driver to submit to chemical testing after being arrested for alleged DUI. These laws make it easy for someone to be put under arrest for driving under the influence in whatever city of California they are driving in, including Crest.
These DUI statutes may be challenging to understand, which may throw you into confusion once you are arrested. For this reason, the ideal step to take when facing drunk or drugged driving charges is to reach out to a skilled DUI lawyer. If you are in Crest, lawyers from San Diego DUI Attorney will assist you in solving your case. We will provide competent legal representation, which could lead to your charges being reduced or dropped altogether. This article focuses on the different aspects of DUI that you should be aware of as a resident of Crest.
Overview of DUI Laws in California
A person who gets arrested for DUI risks facing two charges. That is, under Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Vehicle Code 23152(b). Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) is the law on standard DUI, which forbids a driver from operating a vehicle when he or she is intoxicated with alcohol, drugs or both. If one is intoxicated, it means his/her mental/physical capabilities are distorted to the level that they cannot operate an auto as a clear-headed driver would do.
Before prosecuting you under VC 23152(a), the prosecution considers any impartial signs that suggest you are intoxicated or the records of your driving pattern. Symptoms of being under the influence include an alcoholic odor in your breath, red, watery eyes, poor performance in your field sobriety tests, and unstable posture.
The Per Se DUI Law
The per se DUI law is described under Vehicle Code 23152(b). Typically, the law dictates that after the officer proves that your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more, you will be deemed to be intoxicated by law. Note that the 0.08% BAC level applies to adult non-commercial drivers. For adult commercial motorists, the legal BAC limit is 0.04%. In situations like this, no additional impairment or even intoxication needs to be proven for you to be convicted.
The alcohol amount one must consume to reach the lawful limit depends on several factors, which include:
- Body size
- Strength and number of drinks
- Whether the motorist has eaten anything
- The time over which the driver consumed the drinks
- Specific medical conditions that may impact how one’s body metabolizes alcohol
You could get an estimation of your BAC using a BAC calculator or by looking at the BAC table. However, remember that these are only approximations that do not take into consideration all the elements that can affect a person’s BAC. In case you plan on drinking, do not drive.
This law exists in California to remind the drivers who drink that no matter how clear-headed they behave and feel after drinking; it’s their blood alcohol content level that counts before the law if they drive in the state they are. Should the blood alcohol content percentage be more compared to the lawful limit under the per se law, they’ll legally be assumed to be impaired. The per se DUI statute makes it simpler for the prosecuting attorneys to demonstrate that a motorist was DUI without having to do a lot of on-scene evaluation, e.g., sobriety testing.
Regardless, this law doesn’t imply that in case your BAC level reaches 0.08% or more, you are directly sentenced for DUI. A trial will still be held, and you will be allowed to defend yourself. In defending yourself, for instance, you can contest the proof before a judge, from the authenticity of the BAC test results to the devices that were used to collect those results. You can also question the procedure that was applied in obtaining the results. There are also other defenses that you, with the help of a Crest DUI Attorney, can use during or before trial that could render you innocent.
Note that the BAC standard legal limits the per se DUI law establishes don’t address the offense of driving under the influence of drugs in California.
The Zero Tolerance Law
Underage motorists are often subject to even stricter laws than standard per se DUI levels. Drivers that are under the lawful drinking age in Crest are usually subjected to zero-tolerance law that makes it illegal for one to register any level of alcohol concentration in their blood system. The reasoning behind these rules is that consuming alcohol is forbidden for anybody that is below twenty-one years old. Therefore, any alcohol amount in an underage motorist’s blood system has to be punished. If you are an underage driver and are found with any alcohol amount in your blood system, your punishment generally includes suspension of your driver’s license.
If you have been charged with DUI under the zero-tolerance law, you need legal representation, particularly if you intend to challenge the breath and blood test results. Reach out your Crest DUI Attorney who will help you to know the weaknesses and strengths of your case so you can be better prepared to make critical decisions.
Implied Consent Law
Once you have been pulled over for alleged DUI, the arresting officer generally checks for any sign of impairment. He or she may request that you undergo breathalyzer testing to find out your BAC level.
However, not all drivers willingly give a breath sample, and an arresting officer can’t force a DUI suspect to take the test. Generally, DUI lawyers have more leverage defending their clients when there are no results of a breathalyzer test. But, refusing to submit to a test comes with its penalties.
Under this law, once they have acquired their driver’s license, motorists would have consented to submit to chemical and field sobriety tests to determine impairment every time they are arrested. If a driver refuses to undergo the tests when an arresting officer has a reason to suspect that he/she (driver) is intoxicated, the motorist risks an automatic suspension of his/her driver’s license in addition to other penalties. Usually, the motorist gets to select between a breath and blood test.
The consequences of declining to take chemical tests in Crest include an automatic one-year suspension of one’s driver’s license. Usually, the suspension period increases for a refusing driver with past drunk-driving convictions. For instance, a second refusal leads to a two-year suspension period while a third refusal, three years. License suspension due to a refusal can also lead to your car insurance company canceling your policy. In Crest, if you’re found guilty of drunk-driving having declined the breathalyzer test, you may also face enhanced penalties.
Just because the arresting officer doesn’t have proof of your impairment does not mean that you have won when pulled over for DUI. You will likely be subjected to license suspension and hefty fines. If you’re facing DUI charges and have resolved not to submit to chemical testing, you should have a Crest DUI Attorney by your side to defend your rights, since as we have said, you have the right to refuse the test, but the refusal comes with consequences.
To determine what’s a second or third refusal, past DUI convictions, refusal-related suspensions, and convictions of a reckless driving count. For instance, a driver with a single past DUI and also has one previous reckless driving conviction who declines to submit to chemical testing would face a penalty of a three-year license suspension period for the refusal offense.
A usual DUI conviction already carries harsh punishments. However, certain situations may lead to increased penalties that go beyond the typical sentences that are imposed once a drunk or drugged driving conviction takes place. If certain aggravating elements are present in your DUI case, they may lead to enhanced punishments either by elevating the range of possible punishments or by increasing your original charges to a higher level.
The following situations may result in aggravated DUI charges with increased punishments. The possible penalties vary depending on the particular aggravating element that’s in your case.
Extremely High BAC
The legal BAC limit in Crest is usually 0.08% for non-commercial drivers and 0.04% for commercial motorists. The law assumes that anybody that’s caught operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content that’s over the stipulated legal limit has committed a DUI offense. When tests uncover that you have an exceptionally high BAC (0. 15% to 0.20%), your crime will be considered an aggravated drunk-driving offense.
Driving with a Passenger Under 14
The presence of child/children below the age of 14 years in the car during your DUI arrest may also lead to an aggravated DUI charge. This offense subjects you to an additional jail sentence of 48 hours if you are a first-time offender. If you are a second offender, you will get an extra ten days of jail time while a third offender gets an additional thirty days.
This sentence is mandatory, which means that even if you’re granted probation on your original DUI offense, you have to serve this sentence. Additionally, the sentence can’t be divided into shorter periods that can be served in intervals. Also, longer enhanced jail time may apply based on the drunk-driving crime with which you are charged.
Also, note that if caught driving under the influence with a child passenger in your car, you may face separate charges of child enhancement instead of DUI sentence enhancement. In other cases, one may face both child enhancement and DUI sentence enhancement. However, California law does not allow the defendant to be convicted of both of these offenses.
A judge will also impose an increased sentence if you have had multiple drugged or drunk-driving convictions, even when a single or more of your numerous convictions happened in a different state. Courts in Crest impose harsher penalties to repeat offenders to discourage individuals from driving while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs after their first conviction of DUI.
Driving on a Suspended/Revoked License
Charges of aggravated DUI can also emerge when you are caught operating a vehicle while your driver’s license is revoked or suspended. The punishment for this scenario increases since you have demonstrated an apparent disregard for the law by operating an auto on a revoked or suspended license.
DUI in Construction and Safety Enhancement Zones
Your fine will be doubled if you are caught driving under the influence in highway maintenance or construction zones or safety enhancement zones.
Excessive Speed or Reckless Driving
You can be charged with driving at excessive speed apart from DUI. If you exceed the stipulated speed limit as per the California law and are under the influence, it may also lead to aggravated DUI charges. For instance, in Crest, if you drive 20mph over the legal limit on a highway or street, or 30mph over the lawful limit on a freeway while intoxicated, you could face an elevated sentence than what you would have faced if you were only under the influence.
Reckless driving can subject you to an additional & consecutive sixty days in jail to add on the original DUI penalties of which you are convicted.
DUI Causing an Accident
In case you cause an accident whose results are an injury when you are driving under the influence, the prosecutor is likely to charge you under Vehicle Code 23153. This aggravated offense could be prosecuted either as a felony or a misdemeanor. Should you cause a hit & run accident when driving while intoxicated, the prosecuting attorney will most likely charge you with a hit & run to add on facing an enhanced DUI sentence.
Even if your driving while intoxicated did not cause an injury, most judges will consider the crash as a ground to elevate your DUI sentence. The effect of a crash on your drunk or drugged driving sentence might depend on the court or judge that prosecutes you.
In case you caused death or an injury to more than one victim, you would face an additional one-year enhancement for every victim. But, the maximum enhancement is three years.
DUI arrests are not pleasant. Being arrested and charged with a DUI in Crest is even less pleasant. Whether you are accused of driving with a high blood alcohol content level or a child passenger in the vehicle, the punishment may be significantly elevated for an aggravated DUI if you are convicted. You need a Crest DUI Attorney on your side to defend the charges against you. He or she may be able to get the aggravated factor off your case so you can get lenient penalties. Or, he/she may also manage to have your charges lowered, which means reduced punishments.
Plea Bargaining in DUI Cases in Crest
If you are charged with a drunk or drugged driving offense in Crest, you may be hoping to have your charges reduced or dropped altogether. But, unless the jury throws out proof that is critical in proving your charge, it is unlikely the prosecuting attorney will agree to dismiss your case completely. However, the prosecutor may agree to lower your DUI charge to a wet reckless charge. A wet-reckless refers to an alcohol-related reckless driving crime. And, when it comes to severity, the punishments for a wet reckless offense lie between those of a DUI and ordinary reckless driving charges.
Other reduced charges include:
- Dry reckless
- Drunk in public
- Exhibition of speed
- Drinking alcohol in a vehicle
- Traffic infractions
A reduction of your charges will depend on the mitigating factors in your case. Mitigating factors refer to circumstances or facts that lower your culpability or warrant you a lenient sentence. For instance, if a motorist was impaired due to legally prescribed drugs, was barely above the lawful BAC limit, or completes a voluntary alcohol/drug abuse treatment program following the arrest, the prosecutor and judge may impose a reduced punishment.
Prosecutors and judges may also consider factors like whether or not you are gainfully employed or if you’re a good student when deciding on the appropriate plea bargain or sentence to offer.
Several defendants are usually confused as to whether they should accept the prosecution’s plea deal or let the case go to trial. The truth is there’s no easy answer to this confusion. You should make your decision after careful consultation with a skilled Crest DUI Attorney. Factors that you and your lawyer should consider generally include:
- The strength of the prosecutor’s case
- Your tolerance for risk
- Whether or not you have past convictions
Contact a DUI Lawyer Near Me
Being arrested and charged with drugged or drunk-driving is not a light matter. You need to act quickly in proving your innocence lest the charges ruin your reputation and career. A skilled lawyer is the only person that can help you to fight your charges successfully. For instance, he/she may have your charges dismissed. If a dismissal isn’t possible, the attorney can negotiate on your behalf to get you a favorable plea deal. If you’re in Crest, reach out to San Diego DUI Attorney as soon as you can at 619-535-7150. You will be able to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer to talk about the charges you are facing, so you can get the help you need.