Getting charged with a DUI crime in California can change many things in your life. A DUI offense is taken seriously, and for every subsequent offense, the penalties get harsher. Typically, DUI offenses get prosecuted as misdemeanors. However, there are situations around a DUI offense that make the charges against you even worse and get prosecuted on felony charges. Either way, the penalties are harsh for each DUI offense you are charged or convicted of.

When facing DUI charges in Lakeside, finding a local lawyer to fight the claims against you will help avoid harsh penalties or wrongful conviction. At San Diego DUI Attorney, we are committed to fighting these allegations against you and getting favorable results.

Overview of DUI Charges

Driving under the influence of narcotics, medicine or alcohol is a serious offense because it endangers the lives of both the intoxicated driver and other road users as well. In California, underage drinking is discouraged even more severely, and when found, the penalties are equally severe.

The blood alcohol concentration for a person below 21 years, a commercial driver license holder and a regular driver, are different. The laws that discourage underage drinking are two. These are:

  • VEH 23136, which advocates Zero tolerance to underage drinking. Under this statute, a person below 21 must not drive with a BAC of 0.01% or more

  • VEH 23140, this statute talks about underage drinking when the person is found with a BAC of 0.05% or more.

If you are a commercial vehicle driver, you are prohibited from operating the commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04%. Regular drivers, however, are given more leeway when it comes to their BAC levels. Drivers of regular cars, small trucks and motorcycles are prohibited from driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

If charged with any DUI offense, a conviction may lead to jail time, fines and a suspension of your driver’s license. These are harsh penalties aside from the far-reaching ones of getting a criminal record. When facing DUI charges, a local Lakeside DUI Attorney can assist you fight the allegations you face.

DUI offenses are priorable, meaning the penalties you receive get harsher for each subsequent crime you get charged and convicted with as a result. A standard DUI offense for the first three gets charged as a misdemeanor unless there exists aggravating factors that lead to felony charges. When you repeat a DUI offense for the fourth time, you automatically get prosecuted with a felony even when there are no aggravating factors.

First DUI Charge in California

When it is your first time to get prosecuted with a DUI offense, you face misdemeanor charges if no aggravating factors exist. If convicted on the misdemeanor offense, you meet the below penalties:

  • Misdemeanor or summary probation lasting between 3 and 5 years

  • County jail imprisonment for not over six months

  • You will pay fines of $390 to $1,000,over and above other administrative costs by the court

  • Getting ordered to attend an education program on drugs and alcohol

  • If you are an underage DUI offender, under VEH 23136 on Zero tolerance, you will receive an automatic suspension of your license for a year.

  • You may get asked to fit an IID device in the vehicle to keep driving, especially when your license gets suspended.

It is essential to understand that failing to fight these charges may result in your getting the maximum penalties allowed by the law. However, a Lakeside DUI Attorney can help you fight the allegations and get the most favorable outcome.

Second DUI Offense

You face second charges for DUI if you have a prior conviction on a DUI offense. This offense is also prosecuted as a misdemeanor unless aggravating factors exist to make it a felony. The penalties if convicted are more severe than those of a first offense. The judge, while issuing the sentence will look at the penalties given on the prior conviction, and issue you with steeper ones.

The penalties for a second DUI conviction include:

  • Summary probation that will last three to five years

  • Incarceration in the county prison lasting between ninety-six days and a year

  • Getting ordered to pay fines ranging from $390 and $1,000. This is beside the court charges that will get the total amount much higher

  • Getting sentenced to attend an education program on alcohol and drugs lasting eighteen or thirty months

  • Getting asked to fix an IID device for a year if you want to keep driving when your license gets suspended

  • If you are below 21 years, a second DUI conviction will result in a license revocation for twenty-four or thirty-six months.

  • If you are a commercial driver, a second DUI conviction, according to VEH 23152(d) will lead to a lifetime revocation of your license

From the above, it is clear that a repeat DUI offense will earn you harsher penalties, and even more so when underage or a commercial driver. When charged with this offense, a Lakeside DUI Attorney will help you get lesser penalties or get the charges dropped altogether.

Third DUI Offense

When charged with a third DUI offense, you must have two previous DUI convictions in your record. Just like in the second offense, a conviction on misdemeanor third DUI will earn you harsher penalties. These penalties include:

  • A misdemeanor probation longer than the previous one given

  • A jail sentence in a county prison lasting between 120 days and 365 days

  • Paying a fine that is higher than you did in your second DUI conviction but ranging from $390 to $1,000. Additionally, the court will charge you for other administrative costs.

  • You get sentenced to attend a DUI approved education program for thirty months

  • Getting asked to fit an IID on any vehicle you drive for two years. The DMV will also suspend your license for thirty-six months irrespective of the court outcome

DUI with Injury

As earlier stated, even a first DUI offense can get charged as a felony depending on the circumstances of the offense. When you get accused of a DUI offense that resulted in injuries to a third party, you will get prosecuted on either felony or misdemeanor charges. How the prosecutor decides to pursue the case largely depends on your criminal background and the circumstances of the offense.

The penalties when a person suffers an injury are more severe than ordinary DUI offenses. However, these only apply when a third party gets injured as a result of your drunk driving, but not when you get hurt.

When charged with a misdemeanor DUI causing injuries, you will face the below penalties:

  • A misdemeanor probation for three to five years

  • Incarceration in county jail ranging between 5 and 365 days

  • Asked to pay fines of $390 to $5,000

  • Getting sentenced to attend a DUI education program for three months, or eighteen months or thirty

  • Mandatory installation of an IID in all the cars you drive for 6 months if you need to keep driving after a one-year suspension on your license

  • Paying the injured victims restitution

A felony charge and conviction will, however, lead to harsher penalties. This will include:

  • State imprisonment for 16 months to 10 years. Additionally, you get extra prison time lasting a year to six based on how many people got injured and the severity of the injuries.

  • Getting a strike on your record based on the Three Strikes Law

  • Paying fines of between $1,015 and $5,000, in addition to other court charges

  • Getting ordered to a DUI school program lasting 18 months to 30.

  • You record will indicate you are a Habitual Traffic Offender for three years

  • You get sentenced to fit an IID device in your vehicle for two years or three to continue driving

  • You get sentenced to pay all the victims restitution

With such harsh penalties, your life gets altered when convicted. A local Lakeside DUI Attorney can help you fight against these charges and receive lesser punishments.

Felony DUI Charges in California

There are instances where a DUI offense gets charged as a felony offense. Even without aggravating factors, a fourth DUI charge within ten years from your first conviction will automatically get charged as a felony. When convicted of a fourth DUI offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • California state imprisonment for sixteen months, or 2 or 3 years

  • Getting fined $390 to $1,000, in addition to administrative charges by the court

  • Getting ordered to install an IID in your vehicle if you want to keep driving. The installation must be for a minimum of a year

  • Earning the HTO title in your DMV record

A DUI offense can also result in fatalities. This will get charged as a felony, but the punishment differs and is more severe. The penalties when convicted of causing death may include life imprisonment in addition to earning a strike in your record.

Probation Conditions

One of the best outcomes when faced with a DUI charge is getting probation as your punishment. A Lakeside DUI Attorney can help you get this sentence when they defend you against the allegations. Although this is the best outcome, it comes with various conditions that must be followed. If you fail to keep with the terms of your probation, you may get it revoked and in its place, a jail sentence issued. Some of the conditions that will get issued along with your probation sentence include:

  • You must never drive with any trace of detectable alcohol in your system

  • You must submit to random or any other chemical test to check your BAC, especially when arrested on a DUI suspicion

  • You must never get involved in any other crime

Other terms to your DUI probation can be imposed depending on various circumstances. These are:

  • Attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings or Alcoholics Anonymous

  • Getting involved in impact programs such as Mothers against drunk driving

  • Paying restitution to victims that suffered injuries due to your DUI offense

If you violate these conditions, you can get your probation revoked and sentenced to jail instead.

Factors that can Enhance Your Sentence

Your standard DUI charges can attract enhanced penalties. Depending on the facts of the offense or facts at the time of arrest, your county imprisonment sentence can turn to state imprisonment. These are known as aggravating factors that enhance the penalties you received if convicted of the offense. It is important to note that these aggravating factors can affect your first, second or third DUI charge. Some of these factors that will increase the penalties you receive are:

  • When your BAC is found to be at 0.15% or greater

  • When you refuse to submit to a chemical test to establish your BAC

  • When you cause an accident as a result of your DUI

  • When you drive at high speeds while intoxicated

  • If you had a minor in your car at the time of arrest, you could face additional charges of child endangerment as found under PEN 273a

  • When you were below 21 years when arrested.

The enhanced penalties, in this case, depend on the circumstances of the arrest, and they differ from one offense to the next.

Declining to Submit to a Chemical Test

Holders of California driver’s license operate under the implied consent rule. This means, as long as you hold this license, you allow law enforcement officers to carry out a chemical test to ascertain your BAC levels. Before, the implied consent law covered both breath and blood chemical tests. However, the Supreme Court ruled against punishing a defendant that refuses to submit to a blood chemical test.

Under the implied consent rule, it means that when lawfully arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving, you cannot refuse to submit to a breath test. When an officer has a probable cause to stop you on the road, they may discover other indicators of drunk driving. For instance, having alcohol bottles in your car or smelling of alcohol will trigger an investigation into your intoxication.

An officer can ask you to submit to field sobriety tests. These tests are however, not mandatory and refusing them will not result in enhanced penalties. However, when the officer arrests you lawfully, you must submit to a chemical breath test. If you refuse to have your breath tested, you will enhance the repercussions of your offense.

One of the consequences of your actions is that the judge will sentence you to enhanced penalties from the standard ones when convicted of a DUI offense in California. Another result will be the automatic suspension of your license by the DMV. This will happen irrespective of your court case outcome.

Typically, when one gets arrested on a DUI suspicion, the arresting officer takes their driver’s license and sends it to the DMV. The officer further issues the arrestee with a thirty-day temporary license that will enable them to drive as they await the decision by the DMV. When the DMV receives your license, they will notify you of the impending suspension of your license. Fortunately, you get ten days from the date of the notification to request for a DMV hearing to argue against the suspension of your license.

Once the date for the hearing gets set, engage a local Lakeside DUI Attorney to defend and represent you. If you win your hearing, your license will not get suspended. However, if you lose your DMV hearing, your license will get suspended regardless of the court case outcome.

Driving with Excessive Speed

Your standard DUI penalties will get enhanced if, at the time of arrest, you were driving beyond the speed limit. When convicted of this offense, you will receive a mandatory sentence of 60 days of county jail time. This is in addition to the standard penalties you would receive when convicted of a standard DUI offense. This means, even when the defendant is sentenced to probation, they must still serve the jail sentence of sixty days.

Additionally, a defendant will get ordered to undergo a counseling program for drugs or alcohol. These mandatory sentences do not get waived unless it is necessary to serve justice.

DUI Charges with a Minor in the Car

When you get arrested on DUI charges and a minor below 14 years is in the car with you, the prosecutor will charge you with two offenses; standard DUI charges and Child Endangerment according to PEN 273a. The law is strict in protecting minors from harm. When you drive while intoxicated, you are exposing a minor in your car to the danger of injuries and even death should an accident occur.

These are serious allegations that require you to hire an experienced Lakeside DUI Attorney to represent you during the trials. A conviction on both cases means you will serve two sets of penalties as opposed to one set of penalties.

DUI Charges When Below 21 Years Old

The state of California discourages underage drinking by imposing a zero-tolerance law against this type of behavior. When arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and you are below 21, you must submit to both field sobriety tests as well as chemical tests. Failure to submit will result in more enhanced penalties.

Underage drinking leads to automatic suspension of their license. When your BAC is beyond the legal limit for your age, you automatically violate the law.

Find an Attorney Near Me

When faced with DUI charges, fighting against them is the best thing to do. The penalties, as discussed, can affect many aspects of your life, not to mention the consequences of having a criminal record. If charged in Lakeside, an experienced Lakeside DUI lawyer can help you fight against these allegations. At San Diego DUI Attorney, we are committed to getting our clients the best outcomes with their cases. Call us at 619-535-7150, and let us defend you against these claims.