Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime under California law, and the associated penalties are detrimental. Depending on the specific DUI offense, the applicable penalties may include hefty fines, jail time, and license suspension. The San Diego DUI Attorney is a well-established law firm that serves clients facing DUI charges. If you are in Dos Cabezas, you can seek the help of our Dos Cabezas DUI attorney. Seeking the proper legal representation may help reduce your DUI charges; your DUI attorney can use various DUI defense strategies to fight your DUI charges. 

Overview of DUI

The law considers you to be under the influence if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. No matter how sober and alert you feel, as long as your BAC is above the legal limit of .08%, you may face DUI charges.

Per Se DUI Laws

According to Per Se DUI laws, as long as your blood alcohol concentration is above the allowable limit, no further evidence is necessary to prove intoxication. Therefore, intense on-scene evaluation is not necessary to prove DUI charges; as long as the prosecutor can prove that your DUI test results are positive, you may face charges.   You may either be under the influence of alcohol, under the influence of drugs or under the influence of both drugs and alcohol. California DUI laws do not apply to motor vehicles only; it is also illegal to operate a motorcycle or even a boat while under the influence.

Implied Consent Law

The implied consent law outlines that once you apply for a license in California, you automatically agree to voluntary sobriety tests and other tests commonly used to measure the level of intoxication. Therefore, if a traffic officer stops your vehicle, you should submit and pullover. You should never refuse to undergo a DUI test as this may lead to your driver's license suspension.

The police should have a probable cause for stopping your vehicle. For instance, careless driving may be a probable cause to request a driver to stop; careless driving may be a sign of intoxication. Upon stopping your vehicle, if the traffic officer suspects intoxication, he/she may recommend a DUI test. The police cannot force you to undergo DUI testing. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that of all the drivers stopped by police for drunk driving, more than 20% of them refuse to undergo DUI testing.

Zero Tolerance Laws

For underage drivers below the age of 21 years, a different set of DUI laws applies. The zero-tolerance laws imply that it is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to possess alcohol or worse still, consume alcohol. This law helps to curb the adverse effects of underage persons’ involvement in alcohol.

A research conducted by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) revealed that around 35% of all road crashes involving young people are DUI related. In the state of California, 1/3 of all fatalities of young people from the age of fifteen to twenty years result from DUI related road crashes. In California, persons under the age of 21 have a higher rate of alcohol involvement compared to drivers above the age of 21 years.

For underage drivers, provided your BAC (blood alcohol concentration ) is above .01%, you are guilty of driving under the influence. Since the zero tolerance laws for drivers under the age of 21 came to effect, the deaths of minor persons resulting from drunk driving have significantly reduced.

Facing DUI charges as a minor person could negatively affect your life. Other than the regular DUI consequences of jail time, fines, or license suspension, underage DUI may affect your ability to secure employment. The implications of minor DUI charges could reach far into your future; your Dos Cabezas DUI attorney will assist you in fighting detrimental DUI charges.

DUI Charges Aggravating Factors

Other than facing the normal DUI charges, you may face additional or enhanced DUI charges if some aggravating factors are present. The presence of aggravating factors will subject you to enhanced charges, which are more than the charges you would face for a normal DUI offense. Some of the aggravating factors include:

DUI with a Minor Passenger under the age of 14- Operating a vehicle under the influence with a minor passenger below the age of 14 years is an aggravating factor. Exposing a minor to the dangers of drunk driving attracts the enhanced charges. Other than aggravated DUI charges, you may also face child endangerment charges. You may face enhanced charges if you operate a vehicle around school zones while intoxicated even when you do not have a child below the age of 14 years in your car.

Repeat DUI Offenses- You may attract enhanced DUI charges for committing repeat DUI offenses. A DUI offense remains on your record for ten years. Therefore, if you commit a DUI offense and then commit an additional offense before ten years are over, the second offense will qualify as a repeat offense. Repeat DUI offenders face harsher penalties than first-time DUI offenders do. The more severe penalties for repeat DUI offenses help deter first time DUI offenders from repeatedly committing DUI violations.

Very High BAC Levels- Upon undergoing a DUI test, if you record very high levels of blood alcohol concentration, much higher than the legal limit of .08%, you may face aggravated DUI charges. For instance, if your BAC levels are two times or more the legal limit, you may face enhanced charges. Under California law, a BAC of .15% or more attracts enhanced charges.

Operating a Vehicle on a Suspended/ Revoked License- After committing a DUI offense, the court may suspend your driver's license. If you operate a vehicle on a suspended license, it would be a clear sign that you have no respect or regard for the law. Therefore, operating a vehicle on a revoked license is a DUI aggravating factor.

Over Speeding- You may also receive enhanced  DUI charges if you operate your vehicle at very high speeds while intoxicated. Driving under the influence of alcohol is risky; however, overspending while under the influence is riskier, thus the aggravated charges. 

Specific DUI Offenses

After committing a DUI offense, the applicable DUI charges depend on the specific offense you commit. Different DUI offenses attract different charges. Despite the type of DUI offense you commit, you should seek legal representation to help fight DUI charges. Dos Cabezas DUI attorney can help you fight different DUI charges including:

Standard DUI Charges

If there is a proof of impaired driving due to intoxication, you may face standard DUI charges under the California Vehicle Code 23152 (a). In addition, you may face standard DUI charges under California 23152 (b) VC for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. A standard DUI charge may attract several penalties. For instance, the court may suspend your license for a period not exceeding one year. The fines applicable for a standard DUI charge may range from $390 to $ 1,000. The court may also recommend probation of up to five years instead of jail time. Other penalties may include mandatory DUI School for six to nine months. At times, standard DUI charges may attract jail time not exceeding six months. 

DUI with Injury

If you operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and injure another person; as a result, you may face DUI with injury charges under the California Vehicle Code 23153. Depending on the extent and the seriousness of the injury a victim suffers, DUI with injury may attract misdemeanor or felony charges. To prove that you are guilty under Vehicle Code 23153, the prosecutor must prove that you operated a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or above. The prosecutor must further prove that due to intoxication, you acted negligently or committed an unlawful act, which led to injuries on another person.

The penalties for a DUI with injury may include license suspension for up to one year or even up to three depending on how serious a DUI offense is. For DUI with injury charges, you may be able to retain your driving privileges if you agree to an installation of an ignition interlock device. For misdemeanor DUI with injury charges, the court may recommend summary probation for 3 to 5 years. You may also face jail time, which may range from 5 days to 1 year in county jail. Fines applicable for DUI with injury charges are much higher than fines from standard DUI; applicable fines may range from $390 to $5,000.

Other penalties for a DUI with injury offense may include restitution of the victim. This involves reimbursing the accident victim for all the costs that she/he may have suffered because of the injury. Restitution may include medical costs incurred in treating injuries sustained by the victim and counseling fees; a victim incurs to undergo counseling after a traumatic accident. 

Underage DUI

The California Vehicle Code 23136 states that it is unlawful for an underage person under 21 years to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .01% or more. On the other hand, the California Vehicle Code 23140 prohibits minor drivers from operating a vehicle with a BAC content of .05% or more. 

In addition to the California Vehicle Code 23140 and California Vehicle Code 23136, zero-tolerance laws also bind underage drivers. The zero-tolerance laws prohibit underage drivers from operating a vehicle even with slight blood alcohol content.  In determining intoxication for underage drivers, the police commonly administer a preliminary alcohol screening test. Often abbreviated as PAS, this is a roadside test conducted using Breathalyzer equipment.  After measuring a driver's breath, the kit converts the results into BAC readings.

For a first-time underage DUI offense under California Vehicle Code 23136, the court may suspend your driver's license for a period not exceeding one year. For a repeat offense under California Vehicle Code 23136, the court may suspend your license for a more extended period of up to three years. 

Vehicular Manslaughter

If you commit an unlawful act, which is not a felony and causes the death of another person, you may face charges under California Penal Code 192(c) PC for vehicular manslaughter. On the other hand, you may face charges under (Penal Code 191.5 (b) PC)-DUI vehicular manslaughter, if you commit an unlawful act while under the influence and lead to the death of another person. For more serious offenses, you may face charges under California Penal Code 191.5 (a) PC) - gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. 

To prove that you are guilty of DUI vehicular manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove that on top of operating a vehicle under the influence, you committed another act like reckless driving due to intoxication and as a result caused the death of another person. 

Under California law, DUI with injury is a wobbler offense and may attract felony or misdemeanor charges. For misdemeanor offenses, the penalties may include summary misdemeanor probation. You may also serve jail time not exceeding one year in county jail. The court may require you to pay fines not exceeding $ 1,000. For a felony charge, you may pay much higher penalties of up to $10,000. Felony charges also attract a longer jail time that may range from 16 months to three years, depending on the seriousness of the offense.

Watson Murder

Watson murder charges may apply if you have a previous DUI charge and you operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, leading to the death of another person. To face Watson murder charges, the prosecutor must prove that you had implied malice at the time you committed the offense. Implied malice refers to disregard for human life. Carelessly committing crimes that may lead to loss of human life, including negligently operating a vehicle while intoxicated may qualify as implied malice. 

You stand a higher chance of facing Watson murder charges if you had received a Watson warning after committing prior DUI offenses. A Watson warning is a sensitization of the adverse effects of drunk driving, including detrimental consequences of DUI like loss of human life. Acts that portray disregard for human life like operating a vehicle with very high BAC levels of .15% or more may attract Watson murder charges.

Wet Reckless

A wet reckless is not a DUI offense but a reduction of DUI charges. For instance, if you commit an offense under Vehicle Code 23152 (a) by operating a vehicle under the influence, or Vehicle Code 23152 (b) operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or above, a prosecutor may reduce your standard DUI charges to a wet reckless.

In most instances, a prosecutor reduces your charges if your case is weak or if you have a strong defense. For instance, if your BAC level was just at .08% or slightly above, the prosecutor may reduce your charges to a wet reckless.  Prosecutors mainly recommend DUI charges reductions for a first time DUI offenders. It is sporadic for a prosecutor to recommend DUI charges reduced to a wet reckless for repeat DUI offenders.

It is important to note that a wet reckless is a priorable offense under California DUI law. Even after the reduction of your DUI charges to a wet reckless, a note will feature in your record outlining that you have committed an offense involving drugs or alcohol. Therefore, if you face a wet reckless charge and you commit a subsequent DUI offense before ten years are over, you will count as a repeat DUI offender. 

Common Legal Defenses for DUI Charges

 With the help of your Dos Cabezas DUI attorney, you can employ several strategies to prove that you did not commit a DUI offense. With the proper defense, you may have your driver's license reinstated. You may also avoid jail time if the prosecutor reduces your DUI charges to a wet reckless. Some of the leading defense strategies for DUI charges may include:

Challenging the BAC Results- Under California law, you can only face DUI charges if the prosecutor proves that you were impaired or if you record a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or above. Your attorney may challenge the credibility of your BAC results. There are several methods of measuring BAC with the most common being breath tests or urine tests. Breathalyzers help measure breath and convert the results to BAC readings. The Breathalyzer equipment should undergo regular maintenance. Your attorney can challenge BAC results if he/she establishes that the Breathalyzer equipment used was not well maintained or if a qualified person did not administer the DUI tests.

Deny Signs of Intoxication- Upon stopping your vehicle, the officer may look out for visible signs of intoxication, including watery or red eyes, loss of balance, and difficulties concentrating. Your Dos Cabezas DUI attorney can advise you on how to deny these signs of intoxication. For instance, you may point out that the red eyes were because of fatigue and not intoxication.

You may also defend yourself by asserting that the police stopped your vehicle without probable cause. You may also state that you were a victim of unlawful seizure and arrest. 

Contact a DUI Attorney Near Me

If you are currently in Dos Cabezas and you need the services of a DUI attorney, contact the San Diego DUI Attorney at 619-535-7150 and speak to one of our attorneys. We are always ready to assist.