Most people find themselves charged with a DUI offense because they disregard the repercussions of drinking what they believe to be minimal alcohol or drugs. Different people have various thresholds for alcohol, and drug intoxication may be because of their sex, body size, or age. However, these factors are not relevant when arrested for the offense. If found guilty, the consequences may include losing your job, and for some, their professional license. This is in addition to the court-ordered penalties for the violation according to California law.
In avoiding these consequences, your primary goal would be avoiding a guilty verdict. This is possible with the help of a skilled Palm Grove DUI defense lawyer on your side. When charged with this crime in Palm Grove, the San Diego DUI Attorney can assist you in avoiding a conviction.
Overview of DUI Laws and Their Penalties
The state of California has very stringent laws on DUI, and the offenders suffer the consequences of their violations. Whether you are high on legal medicines or alcohol or narcotics, impairment on the road is unacceptable in California. If your doctor prescribes a medication that causes impairment, he or she will let you know. Aside from that, the pharmacist will also tell you, and the drug companies indicate the counter effects of the medicines.
When drugs indicate, they cause drowsiness, do not take them and drive. Controlled substances also cause impairment. Many people since the legalization of medical marijuana drive high on it. Unfortunately, when arrested, it is not a defense that you were using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
In California, it is a criminal offense to drive when impaired. If found, you will face charges of violating the law, and the penalties are harsh. DUI offenses are monitored for over ten years. This means the punishments given are typically considered over ten years from your first offense. The first time you commit the crime, you will receive lighter penalties compared to when you engage the crime a second time.
Although the penalties keep increasing, the first three offenses are punished as misdemeanors, while a fourth one becomes a felony over ten years. Equally, regular vehicle drivers receive lesser penalties compared to those driving commercial vehicles. Sometimes during your DUI offense, you may commit other offenses that increase the penalties or charges you face. These include:
- Operating the vehicle with a child in the car
- Injuring other people as a result
- Driving at extreme speeds
- Transporting hazardous materials
When during your arrest, the above elements were present, you are likely to face additional charges that increase the penalties you receive. When convicted of a misdemeanor DUI, the penalties you are faced with include:
- County jail sentence lasting to a year
- Misdemeanor probation as opposed to a jail sentence
- Cash fines not above $1,000 or below $390
- Having your license suspended by both the DMV and the court
- Attending a DUI school for three months to a maximum of thirty months
- Installing an IID gadget in your vehicle
For every repeat offense, you receive the same penalties but at a harsher level. This makes it even more critical to engage a local Palm Grove DUI attorney to fight against a guilty verdict. Fortunately, even with these severe penalties, you will still enjoy driving when you apply for a restricted license. It is also important to note that not every defendant qualifies to get an IID restricted license, as will be discussed below.
When you face felony DUI charges, the penalties are harsher, with some of them being more hefty fines and extended state imprisonment sentences. Commercial drivers also receive harsher penalties even when they have committed the crime once or twice. Some of these penalties include:
- A jail sentence in a county jail for a first misdemeanor offense
- Suspension of their driver’s license with no-issuance of a restricted license
- Harsh cash penalties
If a commercial driver repeats the offense a second time in ten years, they will have their license permanently revoked, meaning they will cease to earn a living as commercial vehicle drivers. If the driver was arrested transporting hazardous materials or controlled substances and was impaired, he or she risks life imprisonment.
These harsh penalties make it critical for one to have a local Palm Grove DUI attorney represent them and fight the allegations. A conviction typically means you must find another job if you were previously employed to drive common carriers.
How You are Arrested and Charged with a DUI
There are multiple ways you can be arrested and charged with a DUI offense. Some of these include:
At a DUI checkpointPolice departments erect DUI checkpoints from time to time to discourage intoxicated driving and catch those that violate the law. These checkpoints are legally acceptable and often communicated through notice boards or the police websites, and sometimes through the media. The supervisor of the checkpoint also comes up with the rules to follow when stopping motorists for the check. For instance, to avoid a motorist from complaining they were targeted, the supervising officer may instruct the officers to stop four vehicles following each other and let three pass. This is an essential sequence because it means motorists were randomly picked and not targeted.
As earlier stated, the primary purpose of the checkpoint is to arrest persons found driving under the influence. When you are among those stopped, an officer will engage you in a conversation and observe you to check if you display any signs of intoxication. If these symptoms are observed, the officer may ask you to breathe into a handheld breathalyzer or carry out some sobriety tests. How you perform, and the officer’s observation will result in your arrest.
After an arrest, further tests involving chemical testing are carried out. These are typical to establish the level of intoxication in your blood. Once it is established, you are intoxicated over the legal limit, your license is taken, and you are further charged with the offense. When the officer charges you, you may be expected to post bail before your release. After, you are given notice of when to appear in court for arraignment. This is the point that you should get hold of a local Palm Grove DUI attorney.
Routine police patrolDuring a standard police patrol, you can also be arrested for a DUI. The officer may not move to arrest you on this offense at first. An officer may notice you are driving over the speed limit, have broken light, or have broken a traffic rule. An officer must never stop you without a legal reason to do so. Once stopped for any lawful purpose, the officer may notice signs of impairment. This will prompt him to carry out further investigations leading to your eventual arrest and charges.
Following an accidentWhen an accident occurs, the officers that come to the scene are expected to write a report regarding it. One of the things required in the report is establishing the cause for the crash. Officers at the scene want to determine if any of the people involved in the accident were intoxicated. If this is confirmed, and further you are found to have been the reason for the accident, you face harsher charges. These are those of DUI with injuries. This crime is prosecuted as a wobbler in California. The penalties are severe, including paying damages to the victims if convicted.
DUI Hearings in California
After your lawful arrest, you may be charged with various violations that expose you to two kinds of hearings. One of these is with the DMV, which is an administrative hearing aimed at preventing the suspension of your license. This hearing is also known as a per se hearing and only happens when you are found intoxicated beyond the legal limit.
The other hearing constitutes the criminal court hearing aimed at punishing you for violating the law. The criminal court hearings are typically carried out in the court of law. At the court, a judge, jury, prosecutor, yourself, and your defense attorney are the leading players. The penalties issued by the court are independent of the DMV decision.
A DMV hearing happens at their offices, and unlike a court hearing, no jury or judge is present but a DMV officer presiding over the trial. Equally, the outcome of the court will not influence the decision by the DMV, meaning if your license is suspended and you are acquitted in court, nothing changes.
Getting your license suspended is one of the harshest consequences of a DUI offense. This is why the primary goal in a DMV hearing is to prevent a suspension from happening. A suspension can, however, happen automatically when:
- You fail to request a hearing in ten days.
- Decline to take a chemical test
- Are a commercial driver
In such cases, the DMV will suspend your license, and at the same time, you fail to qualify for an IID restricted driver’s license. When you request for the hearing, you are entitled to have your Palm Grove DUI attorney represent you. Your attorney will formulate various strategies to persuade the officer from suspending your license.
The court hearing also requires you to be represented by an attorney, although you can express yourself if you waive your right to an attorney. This is, however, not advisable if you want to avoid the harsh penalties. An attorney understands what is at stake, keeps informed on the latest way to fight DUI charges, and can find loopholes in the evidence against you.
Best Defense Against DUI Charges
When faced with DUI charges, you risk many consequences that include increased insurance premiums, among other harsher ones. The legal penalties are equally severe, making it imperative to find an attorney for fighting the allegations on your behalf. Many defense strategies are depending on the circumstances of the crime. Some of these include:
Challenging Breathalyzer Results
Per se charges are typically out of a person recording BAC results beyond the legal limit. But, breathalyzers do not directly measure BAC levels. The science behind it is measuring the alcohol in the breath and multiplying it by partition ratio. A breathalyzer uses a partition ratio of 1:2100, while the actual tested rates on people are between 1:1300 and 1:3000. These ratios sometimes are higher based on sex, breathing patterns, weight, and body temperatures.
Your attorney can challenge the results by citing issues that can result in falsely elevated results. These are:
- The differences in the size of drivers affect the partition ratio
- The breathalyzer device has an error margin
- The breathalyzer is not well maintained or calibrated
Your attorney can present an expert that will testify to the error rate in chemical testing that is found between 0.005 and 0.02%.
Ketosis Due to a High Protein Diet or Diabetes
Some conditions, such as diabetes or eating low carb diets, can initiate ketosis. This is a metabolic process that your body triggers when it lacks sufficient carbohydrates from food consumption to use for energy. When your body lacks glucose, it will use stored fat cells for energy and release ketones. When a person has diabetes, ketosis happens when the body fails to use enough insulin.
Ketones are eliminated from the body either through urine or breath. When they do, they are converted to alcohol. Due to the mouth alcohol, the breathalyzer device will inaccurately record high BAC results.
When you hire an attorney, he or she will question you if you have underlying medical conditions or are on a diet. This is one of the most important reasons you must disclose any ailments because others also trigger symptoms similar to those of an impaired person.
No Probable Cause on the Police Stop
As earlier discussed, an officer must have a probable reason to stop you. When an officer stops you, he or she must reveal the reason for their stopping you and issue a citation for the offense. In the process, it may be discovered the reason for your reckless driving is impairment. Your attorney will ask you to narrate what happened and what the officer told you up to the point of arrest.
If the officer had no probable reason to stop you, your Palm Grove DUI attorney could petition the court to suppress evidence collected as a result. If the motion is granted, the BAC results and any other evidence will not be used against you. This may result in the dismissal of the allegations, and you go back to your normal life.
This is a medical condition that results in the production of alcohol in the digestive system. Although it is a rare condition, it is present in some people, with some producing highly intoxicating levels of alcohol. Individuals that consume high amounts of carbohydrates and processed foods or overly use antibiotics can suffer from this syndrome. The bacteria or yeast found in the intestines change carbs and sugar into alcohol. The process involves fermentation, as is in the production of beer.
Although no one is born with the condition, some medical illnesses can result in this occurrence, such as diabetes or Crohn’s disease. If you are suffering from this condition, your lawyer will use it with support of evidence to have the charges dropped.
Invalid Results From the Blood Test
The law provides for the strict adherence of protocol in testing blood to ensure accurate results. When these protocols are not followed, inaccurate results are recorded. When blood is not well stored, it can ferment, resulting in high recordings of alcohol in the blood. Your attorney can challenge the blood testing process according to Title 17 by citing the following:
- The blood sample taken was not stored under ideal conditions.
- The blood sample fermented
- The sample was contaminated
If your lawyer can establish this, he or she can petition for the suppressing of the blood test results. When this happens, you may not be convicted for the offense you are charged with committing.
The Inaccuracy of FSTs
It is a standard procedure for an officer to subject you to field sobriety tests when he or she suspects you of impairment. There are three commonly used FSTs, these are:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus with an accuracy level of 77%
- One leg stand with an accuracy level of 65% and
- Walk and turn with an accuracy level of 68%
These low accuracy rates are also only achievable if the tests were carried out under ideal circumstances, which is not always the case. Most people fail these tests even when they are sober. If you are charged with impaired driving due to failing these tests, your attorney will challenge their accuracy. An expert testifying on your behalf will state the common reasons why motorists fail, including you. These are:
- Non-athleticism or poor coordination
- Intimidation from the officer administering the rests and your nerves
- When the surface is uneven, or there is inadequate lighting.
- When your way of dressing prohibits you from carrying out the test well
These reasons, among others, may be argued as the causes of your poor performance but not intoxication.
You Were Not Driving
One of the critical elements to prove for the prosecutor is driving while intoxicated. When the prosecutor is unable to determine that you were driving at the time of arrest, then you are not guilty of the offense. The arresting officer may have found you asleep in the car, or if you were in an accident, there are no witnesses to testify that you drove the vehicle.
Find an Attorney Near Me
The inconvenience of a conviction or having your license suspended is not pleasant. The possibility of wrongful conviction is even more frightening when faced with these allegations. However, an experienced attorney can fight to ensure you are not wrongly convicted nor receive excessively harsh penalties. When charged in Palm Grove, an experienced lawyer from San Diego DUI Attorney can represent you with favorable results. Contact us at 619-535-7150, and we will professionally discuss your case in detail.