San Diego DUI Attorney handles various cases for clients who are facing DUI charges, and we work hard to arrive at the best possible outcome for you. Our team of seasoned National City DUI attorneys is uniquely skilled at handling various DUI cases ranging from aggravated DUI to DUI manslaughter. Read on to understand exactly how we can help you.

Field Sobriety Tests

In most cases, DUI arrests start by being pulled over. The traffic police then proceed to ask for routine questions like your driver’s license and registration number. If your eyes are watery and speech garbled, for instance, the officer may suspect that you are intoxicated. As a result, the officer may perform sobriety tests before arresting you.

It is imperative that you comprehend field sobriety tests (FSTs) or roadside sobriety tests that law enforcement uses to impose DUI laws. The first step is administering Breathalyzer tests to determine if you are drunk. Upon their discretion, the police will then take you through FSTs in three steps to observe your balance, level of attention, physical ability, and other pertinent factors.

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: under normal circumstances, there is spontaneous jerking of your eyes when the eye looks to the side, but the jerking increases among drunk persons. The officer will be checking for three signs of intoxication: failure to follow any moving item like a pen effortlessly; distinctive eye jerking at the greatest deviation; and jerking eyes at a 45-degree angle from the center.

  2. Walk and Turn: this test determines a person's capacity to perform tasks without diverting their attention elsewhere, such as taking nine steps on a straight line then repeating these steps in the opposite route.

  3. One-Leg Stand: you will be asked to stand with one foot elevated six inches off the ground and count for 30 seconds. Swaying arms for support will lead the officer to record this as probable impairment.

If there is probable cause for an arrest, the officer will detain you, and use the FSTs as evidence for the DUI case that ensues. Law enforcement officers can also employ non-standard methods to determine sobriety – or lack thereof: counting fingers; counting rearward, e.g., from 10 to 1; listing the alphabet, or they could ask you to close both eyes and touch your nose with a finger.

Implied Consent for a Breathalyzer Test

All states including California have "implied consent laws" which means that drivers imply their consent to a BAC test once they are given a driver’s license. California's implied consent law declares that if you are apprehended and the officer has probable cause to believe you are drunk, you are subject to BAC testing. As well, applying for and being issued a driver's license in California to operate a vehicle on public roadways means you have consented to submit to a preliminary breath test.

The right to consult a National City DUI attorney does not apply to a breath test when you are pulled over. The attending officer will inform you just as much including the penalties for noncompliance with this implied consent under California law.

The test could be administered through a breathalyzer or by taking samples of your blood and urine. You can choose between a breathalyzer test and a blood test and if none of these options suits you, then testing your urine becomes mandatory. Declining to take a breathalyzer test carries a different charge from a DUI, but it does not guarantee that you won't be convicted of a DUI or have your license revoked or suspended. If the arresting officer has more reasons to suppose you are intoxicated, they could still arrest you and demand you submit to a mandatory BAC test.

Categories of DUI Charges

The California Vehicle Code stipulates two distinctive offenses for driving under the influence:

  • Section 23152(a) deems it unlawful for a person who is intoxicated with alcohol to operate any vehicle.

  • Section 23152(b) deems it unlawful for a person who has measurable blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more to drive a vehicle.

The above provisions mean that someone can be charged with a DUI offense even if their BAC is not above the legal limit. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that "consuming drugs or alcohol impaired your mental or physical abilities that you cannot operate a vehicle with the caution of a clear-headed person under comparable circumstances." This standard of examining drunk driving cases is highly subjective, and to this end, your National City DUI attorney can mount various kinds of defenses to help you avoid maximum penalties.

California DUI by Blood Alcohol Content

The state has provided four categories of the blood alcohol content limit based on the corresponding age of drivers:

  • Adults 21 years and older (0.08% or higher)

  • Adults holding a commercial driver's license (0.04% or higher)

  • Adults on probation for a DUI offense (0.04% or higher)

  • People under 21 years (0.01% or higher)

Types of DUI Charges

  • Wet Reckless

    Being charged with a "wet reckless" is considered a lesser charge than a regular DUI, but you cannot be charged with this directly. Rather, a wet reckless charge comes as part of a plea bargain with the prosecution – as per Section 23103.5 – after pleading no contest to the California Vehicle Code Section 23103. As a result, your record will indicate that you were charged with reckless driving that is related to alcohol and other substances. The lesser penalties of a "wet reckless" charge notwithstanding, you are advised to consult your attorney before pleading no contest or entering a guilty plea.

  • Misdemeanor DUI

    Misdemeanor DUI charges usually occur with the first or second arrest provided there are no aggravating circumstances. If another party was injured, there could be additional misdemeanor charges or felony charges. Apart from BAC measured by the Breathalyzer devices, this charge includes DUI of "other substance" such as marijuana, prescription pills, or designer club drugs.

  • Commercial DUI

    Drivers holding Class A and Class B licenses facing DUI charges are subjected to more stringent standards than regular DUIs, for instance, a lower BAC threshold. The California Vehicle Code Section 23152(d) stipulates that "it is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle." The penalties are similar to those of first DUI but may encompass suspension of a commercial license for a minimum of 12 months and permanent loss of commercial license after a subsequent charge.

  • Zero Tolerance & Underage Driving

    The California Vehicle Code Section 23136 outlaws driving by people under 21 years whose BAC is 0.01% or higher, as calculated by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical tests. The charges may include violations under Vehicle Code 23152, 23140, or other codes plus the minor will be charged with possession of alcohol or other substances even if they are sealed. The penalties include mandatory license suspension for 12 months and depending on their BAC level; there could be prison time, probation, monetary fines, and obligatory DUI programs the defender may have to attend.

  • Manslaughter DUI

    If you cause an accident and someone else dies, and you have violated Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, this will be vehicular manslaughter. This unlawful act is deemed manslaughter if the death(s) is the proximate result of the accident. You will need an experienced National City DUI attorney to examine your case, or you could be facing the most extreme forms of punishment. The Penal Code 191.5(a) PC calls for a prison sentence of 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison.

  • Felony DUI

    California law is very stringent on curtailing incidences of drunk driving, and felony DUIs have become increasingly common given the following circumstances:

    • The accident causes severe injury or fatalities;

    • The defendant has accumulated three or more prior DUI arrests, including a "wet reckless" in the past ten years;

    The defendant was previously convicted of fourth DUI or more which means the latest charge becomes a felony DUI even if it would have qualified as a misdemeanor.

    If you find yourself in this situation, you must be ready to safeguard your rights and mount the best possible defense. The worst case scenarios of felony DUIs have seen defendants serve decades in prison which is a life-altering outcome by any standard.

Penalties for DUI Charges

Penalties for DUI increase with each subsequent arrest. In general, accusations of DUI have two outcomes:

  • The court compelled punishments plus mandatory jail sentencing

  • Court prompted DMV actions after conviction such as restricting driver's license

If you have been accused of driving while intoxicated, you could face DUI charges of varying degrees, each carrying punishment as follows:

First DUI: This is treated as a misdemeanor, and you are likely to spend up to six months in county jail and be asked to pay $1,000 fines. Your license will be restricted for at least six months and you are required to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program for at least three months and no more than nine months.

Second DUI: This offense can also fall under misdemeanors, and you go behind bars for 96 hours (4 days) on the lower end and one year on the higher end. The monetary fines are up to $1,000, and you will have your driver's license suspended for two years. In addition, the court will order the installation of an ignition interlock device and mandate you to spend anywhere between 18 to 30 months (1.5 to 2.5 years) in an alcohol rehabilitation program.

Third DUI: After the third apprehension of drunk driving, you are now facing a sentence of 3 months to one year in jail and maximum fines of $1,000. More so, the court will order the installation of an ignition interlock device and suspend your driver’s license for a maximum three years, and you will be asked to attend 30 months of an alcohol education program.

Felony DUI: As explained above, facing a charge of a fourth DUI or more within a decade, automatically escalates the offense to a felony, and the punishment is even harsher. Firstly, the monetary fines are as high as $3,000, and if the transgression caused grave bodily harm or death, you could be incarcerated for 180 days on the lower end. The prosecution follows this up with a license revocation of 4 years, mandatory attendance of DUI School, among other penalties and assessments.

San Diego County DUI Programs

Revocation or restriction of your driver's license is a prompt administrative action known as Administrative Per Se (APS) that is lodged against your driving privilege. This action is autonomous from any court-imposed jail sentences or other forms of punishment that will be meted out upon a DUI conviction. The state will then order you to participate in an Alcohol and Drug Education and Counseling program for a specified duration.

This mandate must be fulfilled at a State-licensed service provider, and there are several of these in San Diego County. Please note, California does not permit taking such classes online so you will have to attend all sessions in person or risk contravening this mandate. The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs provide a list of licensed DUI Programs through members of the California Association of DUI Treatment Programs CADTP. Its mission reads in part "to promote the effectiveness of DUI treatment in reducing DUI offenses and enhancing public safety" in the state of California.

Depending on your preferred location, you can choose any of these schools in San Diego:

  • Episcopal Community Service

  • Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty of San Diego County, Inc.

  • San Diego State University Foundation

  • MHN Government Services, Inc., among others.

After your license is revoked or restricted, you must be eager to get it back and resume normalcy as soon as possible. Completing these classes is a vital requirement for getting back your unrestricted license so give them the attention they deserve. DUI programs are classified into two broad categories: first offender programs and multiple offender programs.

First offender programs include the following:

  • Wet & Reckless (BAC below 0.08%)

  • 3-Month Program (BAC below 0.15%)

  • 6-Month Program (BAC 0.15% to 0.19%)

  • 9-Month Program (BAC of 0.20% or more)

Multiple offender programs include the following:

  • 18-Month Program (more than one conviction inside ten years)

  • 30-Month Program (3rd arrest within ten years)

Each program and school will have varied minimum requirements, but essentially, you will need the following:

  • Current Court Referral, DMV H-6 Print Out or Admin Per Se

  • Down payment of a stipulated amount

  • Identification card with a passport photo

  • No measurable level of alcohol or other substances before enrollment

  • Other instructions that are specific to your program

The Best Possible Defenses for DUI

If the outcomes of standardized and non-standardized tests indicate you are intoxicated, you are subsequently afflicted with a drunk driving charge. Your best recourse is to contact a defense attorney who specializes in handling DUI cases. Here are the possible defenses we can help keep you out of jail and other suitable outcomes:

  • Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are not always accurate

  • Even sober people can be found guilty of reckless driving

  • "Objective symptoms" of alcohol and drug intoxication are not objective

  • Due process was not followed when testing your blood or breath

  • Your (BAC) was rising steadily at the time of measurement

  • "Mouth alcohol" led to erroneously high levels of BAC

  • Health-related issues are responsible for a misleadingly high BAC

  • The process was unlawful from being pulled over to being detained and arrested

  • You were facing an unexpected crisis and acted reasonably in that scenario

  • Your constitutional rights were desecrated such as the right to seek legal counsel

With the best National City DUI attorney, even a seemingly unwinnable case can possibly be thrown out of court and have you resuming normalcy in no time. The lawyers will be dedicated to putting forward a logical explanation for your supposedly incriminating actions that got you in this predicament. For instance, a police report that you were intoxicated with alcohol is not tangible proof that you were intoxicated during the accident or successive arrest. Crossing the center line while driving does not necessarily indicate alcohol impairment; you could have been driving on a dark, unfamiliar road and therefore, uncertain about the road. In the best case scenario, your lawyer will get an acquittal or at least keep you out of jail or prison.

Find a National City DUI Attorney Near Me

Any DUI indictment is a substantial legal issue that calls for adequate response to mitigate adverse consequences that can ruin your life forever. Reach out to the San Diego DUI Lawyer to speak with our top-rated legal team and learn how we can intervene to get you out of this dilemma. If you are in National City, CA, call us today at 619-535-7150 to book your initial consultation at no cost.