In California, a person can have charges brought before them in a court of law if found driving under the influence of drugs such as prescription painkillers, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. It is also against the law to drive when you have 0.08% alcohol or more in your bloodstream. At San Diego DUI attorney, we represent people facing DUI charges specifically in the La Mesa region. Our attorneys are highly respected in San Diego and have a large network of resources to help you with your case. Whenever you find yourself facing criminal charges, you can contact us for solid legal advice.

What Does DUI Mean in San Diego?

Many people have a misconception that driving under the influence (DUI) is just a single crime. However, you will likely face two charges when you appear before a prosecutor or judge. There is an (a) and a (b) count.

For an (a) count, you will still face charges even if your blood alcohol content was below 0.08 percent. Section 23152(a) of the CA vehicle code states that you can be convicted or face conviction if the prosecution can convince the judge beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving the car at the time of arrest under the influence of alcohol. Under control means that your decisions may have been impaired at the time of driving which could risk your safety and that of other motorists.

The prosecutor also needs to show that you were indeed driving. They will need to prove that your vehicle was in motion. If the police officer who made the arrest can ascertain that the car was in action, then the DUI charge is justified. Furthermore, if you were found in the driver’s seat with the engine on or the car keys in the ignition, the prosecutor will be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving.

California vehicle code section 23152 (b), on the other hand, states you will be charged with a DUI offense if your BAC level was 0.08 % or more at the time of your arrest. This section is also known as per se count since the law proves that you were impaired to a certain degree. A breath test must be taken for this case to show that you were drunk at the time of driving and the weight or BAC was 0.08 or above. If the breath test is not available, a blood test will be requested as an alternative.

Because the alcohol content levels in your bloodstream might decline as time passes, the tests must be taken within 30 minutes after being stopped or arrested. In case it goes up to three hours while you are not driving, the prosecutor will need to prove the fact that the test results they have are your alcohol levels during the time of driving.

DUI Arrests

Most people in San Diego love having fun during big weekends or holidays. During this time, sheriff departments partner with the national highway safety administration to ensure safety on the roads. They issue crackdowns to capture impaired drivers. If you are drunk after a Super Bowl game and you are headed home, you should be aware that there will be police presence after the game. In 2016 alone, 1200 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence during Super Bowl Sunday.

Stay on the right side of the law by having a safe plan of getting home even before the game begins; leave your car at home and use a taxi or sober driver to take you back. Many accidents occur when sober drivers give a blind eye to impaired drivers. Stay safe by making a 911 call whenever you see someone speeding, swerving or driving under the influence.

What to Do If You Get Pulled Over?

When an officer pulls you over for drunk driving, you may be scared since you know you will be facing a jail term if convicted. You will have many questions about what is going to happen after the arrest. At our law firm, we understand the nature of these arrests and know how you can avoid incriminating yourself.

“Have you had anything to drink today?” This question is often the first question the police officer is going to ask you once you are pulled over. Most impaired drivers incriminate themselves at this point when answering this question. Do not answer the question; instead, request to speak to your attorney before you give answers to any questions. In case you answer the question and admit that you had one or two beers before hitting the road, you have already incriminated yourself even if your BAC level was below 0.08 percent. Therefore, it is better to wait until your are able to reach a DUI attorney so that they can advise you on the next thing to say or do.

Do not allow the officer to take a breath or chemical blood test before consulting with an attorney because the police might be biased and decide you have failed even if the test does not say so. The results are relevant before a prosecutor, and you might be convicted for driving under the influence. The law does allow you to call your legal representative before the test is conducted. If the officer does not seem genuine, do not take the test. However, if the suspicion on intoxication is legitimate, you do not need your lawyer to be present to take the test.

The next thing that will happen is that you will be screened for alcohol. This preliminary test is usually done using a Breathalyzer. The majority of police officers use this device. Some impaired drivers, however, refuse to take it, especially those who know their blood alcohol content levels are high.

Breathalyzers do not require a blood sample, but the problem is that police officers make estimates of the alcohol content in your blood which might be correct or wrong. A blood test is the best way to corroborate driving under the influence. The sample taken during the test can be preserved if you would like to perform a test or analysis by an independent party of the blood later. Some impaired drivers tend to resist the blood test thinking they are protecting themselves. However, refusing to take the test can have your driver’s license suspended for twelve (12) months because a refusal leads to an automatic suspension to your driver's license. You can even get a mandatory two (2) day jail term in jail for refusing.

After the tests are conducted, you can be booked or released. The same officer who arrested you prepares a report and sends it to a prosecuting agency for La Mesa. The prosecutor who receives the report reviews the case and decides if to file charges or decline.

Types of DUI Cases

First time DUI offense: When you are charged with a DUI for the first time, it is considered a misdemeanor offense and the case can end without a jail term. However, for a second DUI offense, there must be a conviction, and the penalties are more than that of a first offense. The good thing is that it is common to get a second offense because it must happen within ten years after the first offense.

Underage DUI: These are charges or cases for anyone underage caught driving under the influence. These juvenile offenders face different charges that require individual responses.

Felony DUI: These are for impaired drivers who have inflicted injuries or have committed four or more offenses within a ten (10) year duration.

DUI resulting in an accident/injury: When you drive under the influence and cause property damage, injury or death, you will be facing jail time. These cases will require you to hire a DUI attorney with an excellent track record. A La Mesa DUI attorney is best positioned to help you with this type of case. Our experienced and highly skilled attorneys will work intelligently to keep you out of prison.

The DUI Court Process  

When breath and blood test reports are forwarded to the prosecutor, and they decide to file criminal charges, you must appear before the court. The prosecutor, judge, jury, you and your DUI defense lawyer must be present. The process begins with you being summoned.  The prosecutor gives you an offer for the sentence they deem appropriate.  If you plead guilty, you will agree to the prosecutor’s proposal. You will serve your sentence, and the case will be close.

In case you plead not guilty, you and your legal practitioner must go through the evidence tabled by the prosecution and challenge it. You have the right to access all the information the prosecution attorney has against you including reports filed by the arresting police officer, samples used for the chemical blood tests and the equipment used to conduct these tests.

Once you have the evidence, the DUI attorney will begin to build defenses that apply to your specific situation. After preparing the defenses, negotiations can begin. These negotiations typically take place in during a pre-trial. Faulty testing instruments and improper investigation methods are some of the arguments your criminal attorney might use to get you acquitted or negotiate a reasonable offer.

During the first arraignment, most prosecutors will ask you to plead guilty and provide an offer. However, once the defense receives the evidence after the first arraignment, they will try to poke holes on the prosecution’s evidence and find the strengths and weaknesses of the case. With the defenses, the prosecutor will be willing to negotiate. The negotiation happens in the pre-trial phase. Your attorney must take time to get all the facts right that will work in your favor.

They can run a probable cause hearing to challenge the initial stop of your motor vehicle by the arresting officer. A motion to suppress can also be used where your DUI attorney feels that the evidence provided in the case was improperly obtained.

A plea bargain comes after a DUI attorney has gathered enough evidence to mitigate the charges and penalties. They will highlight all the weaknesses they see in the prosecution’s evidence, forcing the prosecutor to drop the charges or reduce them. In the event your DUI lawyer fails to negotiate effectively and reach an agreement, the case goes to trial. A DUI trial begins with the jury being selected. Opening statements are made, and then the prosecutor gets to present their case to the judge and jury. Next, your attorney will give your defense after which closing statements are made. The ruling or verdict is verbally communicated in court, and if you are not guilty, you are released. If found guilty you are sentenced to serve your term, and the case closes.

DUI Fines and Penalties  

For the first offense within ten (10) years, the case becomes a misdemeanor offense. The fines for such crimes include alcohol rehabilitation program because the prosecutor proves you have an alcohol or drug problem, a fine of between three hundred and ninety dollars ($390) and one thousand dollars ($1000), six months driver’s license suspension and forty-eight hours (48) to six (6) months jail time. Without probation, you can get ninety-six (96) hours in jail, a fine of between three hundred and ninety ($390) to one thousand ($1000) dollars, and have your license suspended for ten months. It is even possible to get a restricted driver's license when going to work or coming from work.  Additionally, you will be able to drive to and from all court-ordered programs as well as other important duties you are responsible for such as school.

If you get arrested for the second time, you will have to complete an eighteen (18) to thirty (30) month drug program, three (3) to five (5) year summary probation, fixing of an (IID) ignition interlock device for a period of up to three (3) years or a mandatory jail term of ninety (90) days. Some people even end up with a two (2) year license suspension.  

If an individual commits a third DUI offense within ten (10) years, they might spend one hundred and twenty (120) days to one (1) year in prison, fines and penalties amounting to approximately two thousand eight hundred dollars ($2800), complete a thirty (30) month alcohol program and installation of IID for two (2) years. Their license might also be revoked for three (3) years.

In the event of a fourth or subsequent offense within ten (10) years, an individual gets four (4) years revocation of license, eighteen (18) to thirty (30) month alcohol program if they had not completed the previous ones and a three hundred and ninety ($390) to one thousand ($1000) dollar fine.

The penalties vary due to aspects like having a child passenger, speeding over the limit, chemical test refusal or very high levels of alcohol content in your blood. An impaired driver with BAC of 0.15 or more will face additional penalties than one with a BAC level below 0.10. These other penalties include impounding your car for six (6) months, extra jail time and one (1) to three (3) years of required use of an ignition interlock device.

DMV Privileges and DUI

After an arrest, the officer who made the arrest submits a report to the California Department of Motor Vehicles accompanied by your driving license. If you fail to act first, you might lose your driving privileges. A request for a DMV hearing through your attorney should be complete before the end of ten (10) days after an arrest. Remember these ten (10) days include weekends so you must act fast; otherwise, your license will be automatically suspended for a year.

You will need a La Mesa DUI attorney because at this point you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that suspending your driver’s license is not justified. The evidence is provided to the DMV hearing officer who analyzes the facts of the case to give a verdict. The decision to suspend your driving privileges will be made if the arresting police officer did not doubt that you were driving under impairment, lawfully arrested and your BAC levels were 0.08% or higher.

Keep in mind this is the initial stage of the defense proceedings, and it is not part of the charges you will be facing in court. Hire a La Mesa DUI attorney before going for a DMV hearing because they will make sure that all relevant facts are presented and that you do not lose your driving license for years because of a simple mistake. The wrong DUI attorney might not have the experience or knowledge against testimony and evidence provided to the DMV which will lower chances of your license not being suspended. Hiring the right legal representative means that the report and tests presented during the DMV hearing will not hold and hence increases the possibility of not getting your license revoked or suspended.

Find a DUI Attorney Near Me

After reading the above information, you might have questions on DUI arrests and penalties. Call our offices at 619-535-7150, and speak to one of our many qualified La Mesa DUI attorneys. They will answer all your questions regarding a California DUI and offer a free case evaluation. In the event you are arrested, consulting with a DUI defense attorney with decades of experience is paramount because it is not easy to walk away when facing these charges. In case you are convicted, the consequences are harsh and can be a detriment to your life. The San Diego DUI Attorney Law firm will fight hard to build a defense to weaken the claims of the prosecutor and have the judge possibly dismiss or reduce the penalties of your charges.