Drinking alcohol in California is not a crime. However, drinking and driving constitutes the crime of driving under the influence (DUI). California prohibits intoxicated driving in all ages, with even steeper penalties for underage drunk driving. In California, you can be charged with a DUI offense if you were found operating a motor vehicle when impaired by drugs or alcohol. The penalties for this offense when convicted depend on whether one has a prior conviction in the last ten years on the same offense. Additionally, the presence of injuries or other aggravating factors also determines the penalties one receives.
The consequences of a conviction further present more challenges in one’s life. For this reason, when you are faced with DUI allegations, you must fight against a conviction or try to receive lesser penalties. Finding an experienced lawyer is key to your getting a favorable outcome. When charged in Homelands, San Diego DUI Attorney will provide a lawyer willing and ready to represent you in your case.
DUI Laws of California
When you operate a motor vehicle when intoxicated and are arrested for the same, upon investigations, you may be charged with one of the following violations. The most prevalent penalties are those of driving with a BAC that exceeds the legal limit. California charges an arrestee with one of the following seven misdemeanor offenses. These are:
- VEH 23152(a) – This offense is that of driving while impaired by alcohol. Your physical and mental abilities when impaired means you are unable to operate the vehicle as a sober driver would. For this offense, there is no requirement to prove the BAC levels meaning one can face these charges even when they do not submit to a chemical test.
- VEH 23152(b) – This offense is the per se violation in a DUI. For one to be charged with the offense, the prosecutor only needs to show the driver operated the vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or more. For this offense, there is no requirement of showing that you were impaired as you drove the motor vehicle.
- VEH 23152(c) – When one is addicted to a particular drug, it is a crime to operate a car. A drug, in this case, can be a controlled substance or even a prescription drug. Some persons become addicted to pain medication that causes a level of impairment. If you are driving intoxicated and are addicted to prescription drugs or narcotics, you face VEH 23152(c) violations.
- VEH 23152(d) – This is an offense only charged against holders of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). When this driver operates their vehicle intoxicated and their BAC is at 0.04% or higher, they face charges for violating this statute.
- VEH 23152(e) – This statute addresses those drivers that individuals that have hired their services and have a BAC of 0.04%. For instance, if you are a taxi driver, the law prohibits you from carrying a passenger when intoxicated. If stopped for drunk driving and your BAC is at 0.04% or over, you face violations of this statute.
- VEH 23152(f) – Violations of this statute, although similar to those of VEH 23152(c), they are different. When you are not addicted to any drugs but consume them and operate a vehicle when impaired, you face allegations of violating this statute. For a conviction, the prosecutor does not need to show that you are a frequent user of drugs only that you were high on drugs when arrested driving.
- VEH 23152(g) – There are those individuals that combine both drugs and alcohol and still drive. In this case, they are under the influence of both drugs and alcohol. When this is the case, you face violations of VEH 23152(g).
- VEH 23153 –When charged with violating this statute, it is usually a wobbler offense. This means, when, as a result of your impaired driving, you caused an accident that resulted in injuries, you violate this statute.
When charged with any of the above violations, the penalties upon conviction are severe, making it necessary to hire a local Homelands DUI attorney to fight the allegations on your behalf. Typically, most individuals arrested for intoxicated driving face both VEH 23152(a) and VEH 23152(b) in California. This is a strategy most prosecutors employ to give them options in ways of prosecuting the offense.
VEH 23152(a) and VEH 23152(b) in California
As earlier stated, these are the common violations a person arrested for drunk driving faces. DUI offenses in California are priorable over ten years. This means, your criminal record for this offense is considered for ten years from your first offense to determine the penalties you receive. The first three violations are normally prosecuted as misdemeanors in the absence of aggravating factors that may change the offense to a felony.
When allegations for a DUI are presented before you, getting an attorney to represent you can help you avoid a conviction and the consequences that come with it. When your lawyer has the charges against you dropped, it means that the trial will not be held against you if charged with another similar offense. However, if you have a record of the same conviction over the priorable period, the penalties you receive for the subsequent offense will be harsher.
The standard penalties when one is convicted on a misdemeanor DUI are contained in the below spectrum:
- A suspension on your California driver’s license for one to four years
- Payment of fines and assessment fees of between $390 and $18,000
- Attendance and completion of a DUI school program lasting between three and thirty months
- Installation of an IID equipment for you to qualify for a restricted driving license
- Probation sentence for three years to a maximum of five years
- A jail sentence between two days to a year at a county jail.
Any felony offense attracts harsher penalties than misdemeanor offenses. A DUI becomes a felony when it has been repeated for the fourth time in ten years. When prosecuted on this offense, the penalties you are likely to face when convicted are:
- The fines and other fees you pay range from $390 to $18,000.
- The judge can also sentence you to state incarceration for a minimum of sixteen months to a maximum of three years
- The court will suspend your license for not more than four years, with a possibility of a permanent suspension
- If sentenced to probation, it may range between three and five years
- You will attend and complete a DUI program for thirty months
- For every vehicle you drive, it must have an IID for not less than three years
- Your record will indicate you are a convicted felon
DUI With Bodily Injury
As earlier stated, a DUI can also result in bodily injury when the offender causes an accident. The injured victim, in this case, is another person in the vehicle or the other car involved in the accident. When charged with this offense, the penalties are as described under VEH 23153 in California. The offense is prosecuted as a wobbler. This means, depending on your criminal history and the seriousness of the injuries, you will face either a misdemeanor or felony charge.
When convicted on a misdemeanor, the penalties you are likely to face are:
- Summary or misdemeanor probation ranging between 3 and 5 years
- A minimum of five days county imprisonment and a maximum of a year
- A minimum fine of $390 and a maximum of $5,000. This is in addition to other administrative and assessment fees by the court
- Attending a DUI program for between three months to thirty
- A suspension of your license for a year and installation of an IID
- Payment of restitution to the victims
Felony Conviction, on the other hand, attracts the following harsher penalties:
- State incarceration for sixteen months to a maximum of ten years. Additionally, you will receive further jail time served consecutively between a year and six due to the number of victims and how significant they got injured.
- According to the Three-Strikes Law, you will earn a strike
- Your fines are higher, ranging between $1,015 and $5,000. This is besides the court assessment fees that you must pay
- Attending a DUI program that lasts between eighteen and thirty months
- You earn the Habitual Traffic Offender title for three years
- Your vehicles must be fitted with an IID for three years
- A suspension on your driving privileges
- Paying your victims restitution due to the injuries
These penalties are steep and sometimes hard to fulfill. However, your Homelands DUI attorney can argue your case to ensure you receive the most favorable sentence under the circumstances.
The Arrest Process for a DUI Offense
One of the most important aspects of a DUI arrest and when violated gets used as a defense is lawful arrest and stopping. In California, it is against the law to be stopped by a police officer without probable cause. When an officer has no reason to arrest you but did anyway and found you intoxicated, it is still a basis for getting the charges against you dismissed. An experienced Homelands DUI attorney knows how to exploit this weakness to your advantage. This makes it essential to understand your rights and what constitutes lawful detention.
A police officer can have multiple reasons to stop a motorist. If you commit a traffic offense such as reckless driving, over speeding, or have a broken tail light, among others, you can be stopped. When stopped, a police officer will engage you in a conversation on your violation. At the same time, the officer is trained to look out for other signs that may be the reason for your committing a traffic offense.
If the officer notices your speech is slurred, your eyes are red and watery, among other signs, he or she may suspect you for intoxicated driving. The officer will, at this point, ask you to get out of your car and carry out field sobriety tests. The officer will also check to see if there is evidence that you have recently used drugs or taken alcohol. Things like empty alcohol bottles or paraphernalia used in drug-taking, if found in your car, are used as evidence against you when charged with the offense.
Taking field sobriety tests is not mandatory and will not result in any penalties. However, this is not a precondition of whether you were arrested for the offense or not. You can also fail in the sobriety tests, but it is not an indication of your guilt. Your Homelands DUI attorney can argue on the accuracy or validity of field sobriety tests and get an acquittal.
When all the above are followed, the officer, as long as they have a valid reason to stop you, can arrest you for carrying out further investigations. Once at the police station, you must submit to the breath chemical test according to the implied consent law in California. This law states that as long as you hold a California driver’s license, you give the state the mandate to test your level of intoxication using a breath chemical test. You will, however, not be forced to agree to the test, but refusing it enhances your sentence.
Some of the consequences for refusing to take a chemical breathalyzer tests are:
- The DMV will suspend your license automatically without giving you a chance to argue against their decision
- If you are a commercial vehicle driver, a refusal means an admission of guilt. This will result in a permanent revocation of your CDL
- You do not qualify for a restricted or an IID license in California. This means you will not enjoy driving privileges until you serve your suspension time.
Most people fear to take a breathalyzer chemical test for fear that it will confirm their guilt. However, this is not true. Your attorney will have many strategies to fight against the results obtained and get the evidence dismissed, especially when you are innocent.
The Department of Motor Vehicles and DUI Offenses
After a lawful arrest on DUI charges, the arresting officer will take your driver’s license and issue you with a temporary one valid for thirty days. Your license is then sent to the DMV along with a report of the findings by the officer. These include a narrative of your arrest and the investigation carried out from the field up to the station. The officer will also include the results from the chemical test if you agreed to one.
Once the DMV receives this report, they will issue you with a notice to suspend your license through registered mail. In this notice, you are given ten days to ask for a DMV administrative hearing where you get a chance to defend the impending suspension of your driver’s license. You must, however, make this request in ten days from the date of the letter. If the window for requesting the hearing expires, then your license is suspended automatically.
When the request is received on time, the DMV will give you a date for your hearing. Having your Homelands DUI attorney represent you during the hearing is vital because he or she understands the questions to ask the arresting officer. If you lose the hearing, the DMV will proceed to suspend your license depending on the particular offense you are accused of committing.
The DMV is independent of the court proceedings. This means your case can be dismissed due to a technicality, but it will not affect the DMV’s decision. The DMV can also allow a person convicted of a DUI to continue driving as long as they install an IID in their vehicles. This is a breathalyzer device that keeps a person from driving with alcohol in their system. If you are facing your first DUI charge, you are required to put the device for four months. For the following second and third offense, your car must have the IID for one and two years, respectively.
Fighting Your DUI Charge
The repercussions of a DUI conviction are many, with some resulting in extended consequences. Fighting against these allegations is critical to your continuing to enjoy life like before. An experienced Homelands DUI attorney can help you fight against these charges by formulating various defenses in your favor. Some of the defenses include:
- Errors in the breathalyzer machine especially when not calibrated as required by the law or the test was not administered as it should
- That you are on a protein diet like the Atkins or suffer from diabetes causing ketosis that has similar properties as alcohol and is detected as such by the breathalyzer machine
- The stopping by the officer was unlawful as well as the arrest because the officer had no probable cause
- In carrying out the test, the officers violated the regulations of Title 17 that gives guidelines on how to perform a chemical test
- The field sobriety tests conducted did not provide an accurate indication of impairment
- There was police misconduct during the arrest
These defenses, among many others, can effectively be used to defend you and get you acquitted or punished with less severe penalties.
Find a Homelands DUI Lawyer Near Me
A DUI charge can be inconveniencing and frustrating when it comes. The consequences upon a conviction alter a person’s life negatively more than you could wish for. Other times, without proper legal representation, you can be wrongly convicted of the offense. It is crucial to get an experienced attorney to fight these allegations on your behalf. If you are in Homelands, the San Diego DUI Attorney can assist you in defeating the accusations against you. Contact us at 619-535-7150 for an appointment to discuss your case.