Driving while intoxicated with alcohol or other drugs not only puts you in danger but can pose a threat to other road users. California DUI laws are stringent on drivers who operate motor vehicles while intoxicated. You will get arrested for DUI if you operate a car with a BAC of 0.08% on a standard driver’s license or 0.04% or higher when driving on a commercial license. Under the California zero-tolerance law, a driver who is below the age of 21 years will face DUI charges for operating a motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeds 0.01%. A conviction for DUI in California attracts severe penalties in the form of a jail sentence, hefty fines as well as a driver’s license suspension. If you are facing charges for DUI, you will benefit from competent legal representation. At San Diego DUI Attorney our Fallbrook DUI attorneys will guide you through the case to ensure your best interests in the case are put forward.

Vehicle Code 23152 - Driving While Intoxicated

In California, driving under the influence is defined as driving with an alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. You will also get charged with this offense if your conduct is influenced by alcohol or drugs.

A DUI case will begin after your car is stopped at a DUI checkpoint or during an accident. A traffic officer will ask you to stop if they notice some behaviors such as swerving from one lane to another, failing to yield the right way or over speeding. After making a stop, the traffic officer observes your behavior in an attempt to detect intoxication. Also, you will be taken through an FST to check your response further.

The traffic officer is required to take you through the sobriety test for a minimum of fifteen minutes according to the law. Some of the signs that the officer would check out for during this test are an unsteady gait or alcohol in your breath. If the officer suspects that you were driving under the influence through the FST, they will administer a breath test.

By use of a Breathalyzer, the officer will take your BAC. A Breathalyzer is a device in which you blow to test your breath alcohol. However, it is essential to understand that you have a right to refuse the tests. If your BAC exceeds 0.08%, the officer will arrest you.

After the arrest, you will be subjected to a blood test. Your blood alcohol content result is one of the most substantial evidence for a California DUI case. Submitting to the Blood Alcohol Content test is a choice you make during the arrest. However, failure to submit to the test will attract legal consequences. Also, the Department of Motor Vehicle will rely on these results in their decision to suspend your driver’s license for DUI.

If your BAC exceeds the legal limit, you will get charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. If you get arrested for DUI, it would be wise to contact a Fallbrook DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Penalties for California DUI

In California, DUI is a wobbler and can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on individual factors of your case. Also, your DUI criminal history will influence the court’s decision in your case. When charged as a misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol attracts penalties, including:

  • Misdemeanor probation

  • A county jail sentence of one year. However, a first offense will be subject to a six months jail sentence

  • Fines that range between $390 and $1,000. After assessment and penalties are added, this amount may total to three times the amount.

  • Mandatory enrollment and attendance to DUI school depending on individual circumstances of your case

  • Victim restitution where you will be required to compensate anyone who got injured as a result of your actions.

On the other hand, if you get charged with DUI as a felony, you face penalties including:

  • Felony probation. Should you get sentenced to felony probation, you will be required to adhere to all terms of probation. This will include checking in with a probation officer and avoiding other criminal charges during the period of probation.

  • A prison sentence. The duration will depend on prior DUI convictions. If you caused significant bodily injury to a third party while driving under the influence of alcohol, you might face life imprisonment.

  • Fines not exceeding $5,000

  • Victim restitution

  • Mandatory enrollment to DUI school

  • Driver’s license suspension

With guidance from a Fallbrook DUI attorney, you can convince the court to give you an alternative sentence which may entail:

· Residence in a sober living environment

  • Electronic monitoring

  • Community service

Defenses against DUI in California

If you or your loved one is facing DUI charges, you will not necessarily get convicted. With guidance from a knowledgeable DUI attorney, you can present these defenses to your case:

  1. Bad Driving is Not Always a Result of a DUI

You can argue out your DUI case by claiming that you were only driving recklessly but were not intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. One of the pieces of evidence that will be brought against you is the testimony of your behavior from the traffic officer who arrested you. This defense will be useful if your charges are based on the fact that your driving conduct was influenced by alcohol. Your attorney can disclaim this testimony since sober individuals commit most traffic violations.

  1. Disputing the Correctness of your Chemical Test Results

Chemical results in a DUI case include the breath and blood tests. BAC results are the most reliable form of evidence to be in your DUI criminal case. A Breathalyzer machine needs to be regularly serviced. Failure to do this can produce the wrong results. Also, when submitting to the tests, the officer should give you a choice, and the testing should be carried out by qualified personnel.

If you were forced to take the test or the officer failed to use the right procedures, you can challenge the accuracy of the results. This can help put the DUI arrest and investigation into question.

  1.  Give Alternative Explanation for Your High BAC

Your BAC is one of the most reliable pieces of evidence that will be brought against you in the DUI case. However, other factors could contribute to high BAC. Under certain circumstances such as fasting, diabetes, and intake of high carbohydrate diets, your body will break down the food to alcohol. This could be noticed in your blood during testing. If you offer a valid explanation to the high alcohol content levels in your blood, you may be able to fight the DUI charges.

  1.  Field Sobriety Tests Cannot Accurately Measure Impairment

Before you get arrested, the traffic officer will conduct a field sobriety test to observe your conduct. If the results of the sobriety test are used as evidence in your case, you can challenge these results in your defense strategy. You can claim that performing poorly in these tests cannot conclusively indicate that you were intoxicated.

Also, the field sobriety tests should be carried out for at least fifteen minutes to help establish accurate results. Some traffic officers do not adhere to the set time; instead, they will go directly into administering a Breathalyzer test. By showing that the officer did not conduct the field sobriety test, as stated by the law, may put a doubt on the FST results.

Commercial DUI

For this offense, a commercial vehicle could be a vehicle that operates on a class B license. Also, commercial vehicles operating with a Class C driver’s license are included in commercial DUI laws. Vehicle Code 23152(d) of California makes it an offense for drivers with a commercial license to operate with a BAC that exceeds 0.04%. The following are circumstances that attract commercial DUI charges:

  • You drove a commercial vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. An individual is considered to be under control if your mental abilities are affected by alcohol intake.

  • Your BAC was over the set limit. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%

  • You were under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

Should you get convicted for commercial DUI, and there were no third-party injuries, you are likely to suffer the following legal consequences:

· Five years of informal probation. For misdemeanor probation, you will not be required to follow the probation terms.

  • A county jail sentence of up to six months

  • Fines of up to $1,000

  • Three months of court-approved DUI education program

  • At least one year of license suspension. Should you get convicted for a second commercial DUI offense, you may lose your driver’s license for life

If you caused severe bodily injury to another person, you would get charged with Vehicle Code 23153 on DUI causing damage. DUI causing injury can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction for a misdemeanor will result in:

  • Up to five years of informal probation

  • Up to $5,000 in fines

  • A three years driver’s license suspension

  • Victim restitution

If you are arrested for a commercial DUI and fail to take the chemical tests, you risk a penalty enhancement and a revocation of your license. Enlisting the help of a Fallbrook DUI Attorney is a wise step to take if you are facing these charges.

Underage DUI

Under Vehicle Code 23136 of California, it is a crime for drivers under the age of 21 years to drive a car with a BAC. This law applies to any beverage that contains alcohol in it. You can also face Underage DUI charges if your driving conduct was influenced by alcohol. For young drivers, the BAC is measured using the preliminary alcohol screening test. This is a roadside test administered in a similar way to a Breathalyzer test.

Violation of California Vehicle Code 23136 is not a criminal offense, and the punishment for this violation is a one year suspension of your driving privileges. However, if you have a prior conviction for DUI, you may face a two to three years revocation of your license.

When a juvenile driver operates with a blood alcohol content of 0.05% or higher, they face charges under Vehicle Code 23140. The penalties for violating VC 23140m include:

  • Fines that do not exceed $100

  • Driver’s license suspension for one year

  • Enrollment in an alcohol education program for a period of three months if you are at least eighteen years

If you are under the age of twenty-one years and you get arrested with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you may get charged with standard DUI. If no one were injured from your actions, you would face California Vehicle Code 23152 misdemeanor penalties. If you have a prior conviction for DUI or wet-reckless and you fail to take the chemical tests, you will face a one-year mandatory license suspension.

California Penal Code 191.5(b)

You commit a crime of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if you drive a car while drunk and cause an accident that results in the death of another person. Before you are convicted for this offense in California, the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime:

  1. You drove under the influence of alcohol or other drugs

The law considers you to be under the control if you are driving with a BAC of 0.08% or 0.01 if you are an underage driver.

  1. You took part in committing an infraction or misdemeanor while driving

You must have committed a crime that is not a felony under California law for you to be found guilty under penal Code191.5. However, it is crucial to understand that driving under the influence of drugs cannot count as the infraction.

  1. You Acted in Negligence

You are guilty of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if you acted in ordinary negligence. For this offense, negligence is the failure to use reusable care to prevent causing harm to others.

  1. You Caused Another Person’s Death

If you are facing these charges, the prosecutor needs to prove that your negligence caused the death of a third party. If death did not occur, you cannot get convicted for this offense.

This offense can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, based on your criminal history and circumstances of the case. A conviction for a felony attracts penalties, including:

  • Felony probation

  • Imprisonment for a period not exceeding four years

  • Fines that do not exceed $10,000

Should you get convicted for a misdemeanor you will face:

  • A jail sentence for one year

  • Summary probation

  • A fine of up to $1,000

After a conviction for vehicular manslaughter, the DMV will try to restrict your driving privileges for one year. Seeking the guidance of a Fallbrook DUI Attorney is one of the best decisions you can make if you are facing these charges.

Driver’s License Suspension for DUI and Related Offenses

Suspension of your driving privileges is among the most stringent penalties you will receive after getting convicted for driving while intoxicated with alcohol or other drugs. In California, there are two types of license suspension you can receive for DUI, including:

Court Imposed License Suspension

If you get convicted for DUI or a related offense, a driver’s license suspension will be one of the penalties you receive. However, the judge won’t suspend will instead notify the DMV to do the suspension.

DMV Imposed License Suspension

After an arrest for DUI, the DMV may attempt to take away your driving privileges. When you get arrested, your license will be taken away, and you get issued with a pink notification valid for thirty days. However, you can try to avoid the suspension by requesting a hearing with the DMV within ten days after the arrest. Seeking for the trial will put a hold on the license suspension until after the hearing. The trial at the DMV is an informal hearing presided over by a hearing officer.

At this hearing, you can present defenses and bring witnesses in an attempt to avoid a suspension. With guidance from a Fallbrook DUI Attorney, you can present arguments to evade license suspension. After winning the DMV hearing, you will retain your driving privileges awaiting the outcome of your criminal case. However, losing the hearing attracts a suspension for one, two, or three years depending on the number of prior convictions. If your license is suspended for DUI, you can be allowed to continue driving if you obtain a restricted driver’s license.

Find a DUI Attorney Near Me

It is a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated in California. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face serious legal consequences. You may also risk facing a license suspension or even a revocation. Fortunately, getting arrested and charged with this offense will not necessarily result in a conviction. There are available defenses to avoid the legal consequences that accompany a conviction for this offense. If you are facing charges for driving under the influence of drugs in Fallbrook, it would be wise to seek legal representation. At San Diego DUI Attorney, we work hard to ensure the best possible outcome for you in the case. Contact us today at 619-535-7150.