The state of California has several DUI laws such as the zero tolerance law for underage drivers, the per se law for adult drivers, and other laws against driving under the influence. This means that you can easily become a suspect of a DUI arrest in California, and specifically in Encinitas, California. That is why the San Diego DUI Attorney is here for you. With the help of our experienced DUI defense attorneys, many of our clients in Encinitas have managed to get their DUI cases dismissed or their charges reduced.

DUI Laws

If you are arrested on allegations of DUI, there is a possibility you will be facing two charges; Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC and 23152(b) VC charges. California VC 23152(a) makes it a criminal offense to drive while impaired due to the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. Prosecutors normally look for any objective intoxication symptoms or the reports of your driving pattern when charging you. Common symptoms include wobbly posture, red and watery eyes, alcoholic odor on your breath and poor performance on sobriety tests that are normally administered when stopped by traffic police officers.

VC 23152(b) on the other hand, prohibits drivers to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more in their system. Prosecutors substantiate such charges by analyzing results of chemical tests like urine, blood, and breath tests. For DUI cases that involve only drugs (not alcohol), you will only be prosecuted under VC 23152(a).

What Happens When You Get Arrested for DUI?

Most drivers get arrested for DUI when they are stopped at a traffic checkpoint or if they cause an accident and the police have to investigate the scene. There are several reasons you can be stopped. For example, your vehicle may be faulty or you may have violated traffic rules. Normally, the traffic police officer will need you to perform some sobriety tests and blow into a breathalyzer so he/she can determine alcohol concentration in your system.

If you don’t pass the tests or exceed the required alcohol concentration, you are taken at the police station where you are required to perform breath and blood tests. After these tests, in case your blood alcohol content is more than 0.08%, you will face additional charges of VC 23152(b) driving with a higher blood alcohol concentration law. Refusing to take these tests may lead to severe penalties if convicted.

For a misdemeanor offense, you should be released within a few hours of an arrest after you have been booked. Booking means that your biometrics and basic information have been recorded and your charges have been registered by the police department. For felony DUI charges, one may be required to post bail before being released. Your driver’s license is confiscated and taken to the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). In turn, you are issued with a temporary license which is normally pink in color to use for a period of 30 days. When 30 days elapse, California DMV will suspend your original license. You are also given a written document which by signing it, you agree to attend the required court sessions.

After this is done, an arresting officer submits your DUI report to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then decides whether to file charges or not. If charges are filed, you are allowed either to be represented by a DUI attorney of your choice, to represent yourself or be represented by the state’s public attorney. Representing yourself is not a good idea since you may not have the skills and qualifications of an attorney. On the other hand, a public attorney may have little time to handle your case because he/she is representing many others. The only best option is hiring an Encinitas DUI attorney who will dedicate all of their time in solving your case.

The California DMV Process

With the help of your attorney, you need to contact DMV and request for a hearing in 10 days after being arrested. Failure to which, the license will automatically be suspended once 30 days are over. Requesting a hearing may delay license suspension until after the hearing. Even better, a good Encinitas DUI attorney can ensure that your license is not suspended at all.

The hearing can happen face to face or through a phone call. It is your attorney that will conduct this hearing for you. A DMV hearing is distinct from a court case. In case you lose the hearing, your license will be suspended for four months to three years contingent to whether you complied with chemical test requirements or whether you have had past DUI convictions.

Note that a DMV hearing only happens if you were arrested driving under the influence of alcohol and not drugs. The purpose is to determine if you had a BAC concentration of more than 0.08. When arrested for DUI of drugs, the case proceeds directly to court. Even then, the court can still suspend your license.

If your license is suspended, you can apply for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) restricted license. With an IID license, you can continue to operate your vehicle without restrictions provided it is installed with an IID. An IID is a breathalyzer device that won’t allow your vehicle to move if it senses alcohol. The license is supposed to last for some time. How long it lasts depends on your criminal record.

The Court Process

After a DMV hearing, court proceedings commence. First, you are arraigned in court where you have a chance to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against you. If you plead not guilty, it gives your attorney time to scrutinize and contest the prosecution’s evidence in a pretrial motion. A dedicated attorney should spend hishe/her time to look at every detail of your case and prepare a strong defense. If you plead guilty, penalties will be applied according to what offense you have been convicted of and the case will be closed except if you have to fulfill certain probation terms.

Defenses to a DUI charge include defective equipment like breathalyzers and chemical tests calculators. Your attorney could also argue that the arresting and investigation process was illegal. she/he can use these defenses to negotiate for your case dismissal or reduction of charges. DUI can be reduced to lesser offenses like wet reckless, drunk in public, dry reckless or exhibition of speed which have lenient punishments.

A pre-trial motion may include a motion seeking to strike illegally obtained evidence from the case or a hearing to grant your attorney time to examine the arresting officer’s record of complaints and whether to refute their testimony. After a pre-trial motion, the court may proceed for plea bargains where both sides try to come to an agreement on some aspects affecting the case out of a courtroom. 

The case proceeds to trial if no settlement is reached during pre-trial. Here, your attorney and the prosecutor will present their cases to the jury who read the verdict afterward. If found guilty, you are sentenced and penalized according to the facts of the case and your criminal record. DUI punishments include probation, serving time in jail or prison, fines, revocation of your driver’s license and compulsory DUI school programs.

Different Offenses of California DUI

A California DUI conviction depends entirely on two factors; whether you have had a prior DUI conviction and if anyone got injured due to your DUI action. Most DUI cases are misdemeanors but in case someone got injured or you have had more than four past DUI convictions, they are always a felony. DUI offenders are charged differently depending on the above-mentioned factors. The different offenses you can be charged with include:

  • First DUI offense
  • Second DUI offense
  • Third DUI offense
  • Fourth/ felony DUI offense
  • DUI Causing injury
  • DUI manslaughter

First DUI Offense

When you get arrested for driving under the influence for the first time, you will be charged with first-offense DUI. If found guilty, you will be subjected to a fine ranging between $390 to 1,000, other penalty assessments and 2 days to 6 months jail time. You are also more likely to have 3 to 5 years’ summary probation. If you are granted probation then you won’t be jailed. While in probation, you will be required to comply if an officer requests you to take a roadside alcohol test, not commit any other offense and not to drive with detectable alcohol content in your system. You may also be enrolled in a DUI school for three or nine months and have a six months’ driver’s license suspension.

Second DUI offense

If arrested for the second time within a period of ten years since the first DUI conviction, you will be charged with a second DUI offense. The penalties are more severe than those of the first offense. They include a one-year license suspension. But if you refuse to submit to chemical tests, your license gets suspended for two years. Other penalties include 4 days to one year jail time, a fine ranging from $390 to $1,000, DUI School for 18 months, and 3 to 5 years’ summary probation. However, an Encinitas DUI attorney can fight for the reduction of these penalties. For example, she/he can seek to have you house-arrested instead of spending time in jail.

Third DUI Offense

You will be charged with a third DUI crime if arrested for driving under the influence and you have had two past DUI convictions within a period of ten years. The penalties include one-year license suspension or three years if you refuse to comply with chemical test requirement, 120 days to one year county jail time, $390 to $1,000 in fines, 30 months DUI school program, 3 to 5 years’ summary probation, California DMV will label you a habitual traffic offender and a compulsory two years IID installation. Instead of serving jail time, an expert Encinitas DUI attorney can negotiate for alternative punishments like house arrest or community service.

Fourth/Felony DUI Offense

Fourth DUI is a felony. It happens when you get arrested for DUI for the fourth time in a period of 10 years. Felony DUI is punishable by serving 16 months, two or three years in state prison, between $390 and $1,000 in fines, 3 to 5 years’ probation, 30 months DUI school program, a 4-year suspension of your driver’s license and DMV habitual offender status.

DUI Causing Injury

This is causing an injury to someone else other than yourself during DUI. It is either a misdemeanor or a felony offense depending on your criminal record and the circumstances of the case. Misdemeanor cases carry penalties of 3 to 5 years’ summary probation, 5 days to one year county jail time, between $390 and $5,000 fine, 18 to 30 months DUI school program, compulsory six months IID, compensation to the injured parties and a one-year license suspension.

When charged as a felony, the punishments include 16 months to 10 years imprisonment in state prison, fines ranging from $390 to $5,000, 18 to 30 months DUI school program, a compulsory one-year IID or a license suspension period of 4 years, a DMV habitual offender title for 3 years, a strike on your criminal record, compensating the injured victims and up to 5 years’ formal probation time. Depending on how many victims you injured and the degree of the injuries, you will have a sentence enhancement of one to six years in prison which is to be served consecutively with the normal sentence.

DUI Manslaughter

You will be guilty of DUI manslaughter if you killed someone while driving under the influence. This is a felony offense prosecuted under second-degree murder that carries severe penalties. The penalties include 4, 6 or 10 years in state prison, formal probation, a maximum fine of $10,000. If you have had prior DUI convictions, your sentence time will be increased to 15 years or in some cases face life imprisonment. In addition, your license will be suspended for three years by the California DMV. If you drive during the period of your license suspension, you will face additional driving on a suspended license charge.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in DUI Case

When passing a sentence for a DUI offense, the judge considers certain factors that will make him/her reduce or increase your penalties. Some factors may weigh against while some are in favor of the defendant. Factor like a non-existent past DUI conviction, a BAC of slightly higher than 0.08 and completion of drug abuse programs can move the judge to reduce your sentence. If your DUI was more serious or you have had previous DUI convictions the judge is compelled to impose harsher penalties.

Every court has a varying interpretation of these factors which makes the reduction or increase of a sentence vary too. A good Encinitas DUI attorney will navigate through these factors and exhaust every option to provide the best defense against them. Some of the aggravating factors include;

  1. DUI with a minor: If you were driving under the influence with a passenger below 14 years, you will face an additional sentence of between 2 to 90 days contingent to prior convictions. You also risk facing child endangerment charges. These can be a felony or a misdemeanor and carry maximum prison time of six years;
  2. DUI over the speed limit/ reckless driving: Driving 20 or 30 mph over the set speed limit while under the influence will attract more penalties. Also, if you were driving recklessly then you can be charged with VC 23582. Reckless driving and speeding is risking people’s lives and attracts a jail sentence of 60 days;
  3. DUI with a BAC of over 0.20: Typically, the more someone gets drunks, the higher the possibility of them causing an accident. A higher than 0.08 BAC may attract harsh penalties but higher than 0.20 will attract even more severe punishments.  You will be required to enroll in an alcohol program for 9 months and a compulsory IID on your car. You may also spend additional time in jail;
  4. Refusing to submit to chemical tests: Although you have the right to refuse chemical tests, doing so may attract additional penalties. This may lead to jail time of 48 hours and a compulsory alcohol program for 9 months. In addition, the DMV will suspend your license for at least one year unless you have a good attorney to defend your rights;
  5. DUI on a revoked license: If you were driving under the influence using an expired or revoked license, or if you did not have a valid driver’s license issued by the state of California, you will face additional penalties. In this case, the prosecutor can have you jailed for 48 hours.

Find an Encinitas DUI Attorney Near Me

San Diego DUI Attorney law firm is dedicated to maintaining your good reputation by keeping your driving record clean. We protect the freedom of every one of our clients in and out of Encinitas by effectively fighting any DUI charges against them. If you or your loved one has been arrested for DUI, reach our San Diego DUI Lawyer at 619-535-7150 to communicate the details of your case and we will begin to work ways on establishing a strong defense right away.