In the state of California, driving under the influence is a costly crime since it is associated with numerous fees and penalties. The DMV is expected to enforce stricter rules in the coming years as the state tries to curb DUI rates. The reason behind this move is because DUI involves other secondary crimes that cause injury or death to other individuals. Moreover, the laws are diverse and complex, as each DUI has specific penalties that carry different verdicts. However, it is not a hopeless cause since an experienced DUI attorney can successfully defend you against any DUI charges you face. The San Diego DUI attorney is a law firm that has experience in the California DUI laws, with a team dedicated to serving individuals in the Lemon Grove area.

The Legal Definition of DUI

Driving under the influence is an offense as defined under the California vehicle code, with its primary purpose being to deter and curb the driving of vehicles while drivers are intoxicated. Under the vehicle code, the law makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or any drug. The term drug describes any substance that leads to intoxication. The court can find you guilty of violating Vehicle code 23152, regardless of whether the drugs were over the counter, prescription or illegal.

It is important to note, the phrase ‘under the influence’ refers to being mentally, physically impaired or both, to the extent of having no ability to drive with caution.  In Lemon Grove, there are two ways you can receive a DUI charge. The first is violating vehicle code 23152 (a), which is the basic law of driving under the influence. The prosecutor has to prove that you were under the influence of a substance to find you guilty. The second is violating vehicle code 23152 (b), where you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher which is known as the ‘per se law. '

Nevertheless, with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, the judge can find you guilty under the two laws. If the BAC levels are 0.04% or higher, commercial drivers are guilty of violating vehicle code 23152(b). Unlike standard DUI, if you are commercial driver found guilty of a second DUI offense the result would be losing your driving privileges permanently.

If the driver is a minor and their BAC is 0.01% or higher, they will face penalties under the vehicle code 23136. The driver can also receive a charge with the violation of vehicle code 23152, 23140 or other laws involved with an adult DUI.

The Arrest Process

In Lemon Grove, CA, the arresting officer has to prove they had reasonable suspicion that you indeed violated the law. For example; the officer asked you to pull over if you ran a red light or violated a traffic rule. If these were the bases of the police officer, then they had the right to make the arrest. Moreover, the officer observed signs of intoxication and made a DUI arrest. Additionally, they might ask you to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests or check your Blood alcohol content with a Breathalyzer.

The Field Sobriety Test (FST) is a series of physical and mental exercises designed to assess an individual’s ability to maintain their attention and skill while driving their vehicle. In the city of Lemon Grove, the FST are optional. The individuals can decline to perform these tests. Under Vehicle code 23612, by doing so, the FST will not result in any penalties. The same vehicle code states that you are required to perform chemical tests and refusing to do so will have more complications on your case. For underage drivers suspected of a DUI, they have the alternative of a Preliminary Alcohol screening test (PAS). However, this test has been proven to fail in one (1) out of every four (4) tests. As a result, the calibrations of these gadgets are influenced by environmental conditions and inappropriate timing.

The officers rely a lot on the FST’s to decide whether they should make the arrest. There are three standard FSTs which the officer can use. They include;

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test.

The officer asks the suspect to follow a stimulus, from right to left using their eyes. The purpose of this test is to observe the pupil and where it starts to display Nystagmus.

  1. The walk and turn test (WAT).

The Lemon Grove officer will request you to take a few steps on a straight line. The heel to toe steps are on one foot, and you have to repeat the same exercise in the opposite direction. The officers look for various signs of impairment during the test. Some of them include; stepping off the line and using your arms to balance, to mention a few.

  1. The one leg stand.

The officer will instruct you to stand on one foot and then count numbers in the thousands.

If you fail these tests, the officer will make the arrest and take you to the police station or the hospital, considering your current situation. They also require a blood and/or breath test, which will be used to measure your BAC and presented as evidence in court and the DMV hearing. The officer will release you after booking or after a few hours of being sober. They will hand you a few documents, keeping your license if you are from the state of California. Otherwise, if the crime is a felony, they will hold you in custody, or you will have to post bail.

The documents the officer hands you include; a citation to appear in court and a temporary pink license, which will expire in thirty (30) days. Your driver's license will be mailed to the DMV, giving you a timeline of ten (10) days to request for a hearing. It is advisable at this moment to discuss the issue with your Lemon Grove DUI attorney.  The DMV hearing is optional, but an experienced Lemon Grove DUI attorney will advise you to attend the administrative hearing.

DMV Hearing

Unlike the courts, the DMV hearing is purely an administrative hearing. They will decide on whether to suspend your driving license or not. The hearing will take place at the DMV offices, where a DMV officer will preside over the hearing. For the DMV officer to conclude, there must be a great deal of proof. Though in this procedure, proving you guilty is easily satisfied compared to the court.

However, you still have rights at this hearing. You have the right to be represented by a DUI attorney, but they will not appoint one for you. The Lemon Grove DUI attorney can go through and dispute the evidence. There are other rights that you are entitled to in the hearing, they include;

  1. The DUI attorney can subpoena and present the eyewitnesses and;
  2. The Lemon Grove DUI can cross-examine the witness to check or discredit the testimonies.

The scope of a DMV hearing is quite broad, and the DMV officer will have to consider a couple of issues;

  1. The officer who made the arrest had probable cause to believe you were under the influence,
  2. The officer had a lawful reason to make the arrest,
  3. The suspect BAC was 0.08% or higher,
  4. The officer stated that the consequences of refusing to take the blood or breath test would lead to an automatic suspension or revoking of the license and;
  5. You made the personal decision not to take the breath or blood test.

Finally, the DMV will consider these matters and conclude on the verdict.

  1. If you are found to have committed the alleged DUI, the DMV will suspend your driving license and;
  2. They will reverse the suspension of the driver's license if the officers set aside the action. Setting aside an action can be described as not guilty in a court of law.

The Penalties for a DUI by the DMV   

Nevertheless, you can lose a DMV hearing. However, the Lemon Grove DUI attorney will have enough information to defend you successfully in a court of law or request for a plea deal. The suspension of the driving license will depend on the level of the DUI offense either, 1st, 2nd or 3rd offenses. The regulations related to suspending the driver’s license is explained under California Vehicle code 13352.

First DUI offense

For a first time DUI in Lemon Grove city, the driving privileges are suspended for six (6) to ten (10) months. Under the Vehicle code 13352, the law states that the suspended license can be converted to a restricted license. The limited license gives you the ability to drive to work and DUI School. However, there are some certain exceptions that you need to perform, to convert the license to a restricted license;

  1. You have to join a California DUI school,
  2. You have to submit an SR-insurance form and;
  3. You have to pay a reinstatement fee of one hundred and twenty-five dollars ($125).

If the DUI caused injuries to another individual, your driver’s license would be suspended for one (1) year. Additionally, if you refused to take the breath or blood test, your driver's license will be automatically suspended for one (1) year. For these two cases, the DMV will not allow you to get a restricted license. From 2019, the arrestees will be permitted to install the IID gadget after four (4) months and drive without limitations.

Second DUI offense

For a driver to be charged with a second DUI, they must have committed the second DUI offense within ten (10) years of committing the first. Losing the case will lead to suspending of the license for two (2) years.  Under section 5.1 of vehicle code 13352, you can convert your driver's license to a restricted license after one (1) year.

Additionally, if you were under the influence of alcohol alone and no aggravating incidents, you can apply for a restricted license after ninety (90) days.

The conditions set for getting a restricted license include;

  1. You have observed the terms set under section 5,
  2. You have signed up for a California DUI school for eighteen (18) to thirty (30) months and;
  3. You have installed an IID device in your vehicle.

Third DUI offense

For you to get indicted with a third DUI offense in California, it means you had the second offense within a period of ten (10) years, prior. Your driving license will be suspended for three (3) years for a third DUI. If you, however, adhere to the conditions of section 5.1, you will be eligible for a restricted license after one (1) year. The DUI offenders can apply for an IID after one (1) year to continue driving without any limitation.

Procedures in a DUI Court Case.

In the court case, the judge will state your constitutional rights and the DUI charges presented against you. You will be given an offer by the prosecutor to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. Each of the three (3) offers have their particular effects on the case, pleading guilty will lead to the closing of the case and the judge giving a verdict.

A skilled Lemon Grove DUI attorney will advise you not to plead guilty. By not pleading guilty, gives the defense attorney the chance to represent and defend you by challenging the presented evidence. If the court finds that you violated the DUI laws, the judge will make a verdict and give the penalties under the Vehicle code 23152(a), (b) or both. The penalties are determined by the level of DUI you are facing.

Common Defenses for a DUI

An experienced Lemon Grove DUI attorney can represent you in both hearings. They can also present findings on your behalf. Some of the common defenses used include;

  1. Violation of the California Title 17 regulations.

In Lemon Grove, California, the officer is required to observe the suspect within a fifteen (15) minute interval before performing any breath tests. The regulations defined under Title 17 regulations clearly explain the protocol. The time interval is necessary because it is easy to compromise the results, for example through regurgitation. The officer is required to follow the regulations if they are collecting, storing and examining your blood. If none of the specified guidelines are followed, the outcome will compromise your BAC results. This defense would lead to dismissal of the case by the judge and DMV.

  1. Questioning the Calibration of the Breathalyzer Kit.

Title 17 defines the standards of operating and maintaining the Breathalyzer kit. The maintenance of the kit is to be done every ten (10) days, or every one hundred and fifty (150) blows. The Lemon Grove DUI attorney can subpoena the calibration logs to clarify if the standards were kept in check. In case the logs show the failure to adhere to the standards, the DMV will reverse the suspension. The kit can also malfunction and produce false results leading to the reversal of your driver’s license suspension.

  1. Physiological Signs can Account for High BAC Levels.

There may be some bodily reactions that take place, causing false BAC levels. These physiological reactions are not associated with alcohol consumption. They include;

  • The driver had a large meal, which had low carbohydrates and high protein. The type of food consumed would be used to explain the rise of false BAC results.
  • Medication the suspect used led to incorrect BAC levels; these products include mouthwash and acid reflux pills.
  • Alternatively, there was alcohol residual in your mouth, which mixed with the air causing false readings.

If any of these conditions occurred, they would be used to explain the high BAC levels. In spite of the results, this could be the basis of winning your DMV and court case.

  1. The Officer did not Discuss the Proper Guidelines for the BAC.

In Lemon Grove city, underage drivers are not allowed to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their bodies. This law is described under vehicle code 23136 as the zero-tolerance law. The law further explains that the officers may administer a PAS test to underage drivers. A well-versed Lemon Grove DUI attorney will know that PAS and devices are not required under Title 17. For the officers who made the arrest, this will be an uphill climb trying to explain why the PAS test is reliable. The failure rate of the PAS tests is usually one (1) to every four (4) tests. Most of the officers are unable to explain the reason behind the use of this kit. If that defense fails, the DUI attorney can call other witnesses to defend against the use of the PAS tests, which typically includes forensic experts.

Find a DUI Attorney Near Me

Facing an experienced state prosecutor in a DUI case is not going to be an easy task. They will try everything to get a conviction. A proper defense from a well-versed DUI attorney would be the answer to defending you from illegal injustices. The Lemon Grove office has a dedicated team of DUI attorneys, who have the necessary experience and knowledge of the California DUI laws. If you or someone you know needs our services, feel free to call our experienced San Diego DUI defense lawyer at 619-535-7150 for a free consultation.