When you are accused of a DUI crime, it means you were arrested driving while impaired by either drugs or alcohol. An intoxicated driver is considered a danger to other road users and themselves as well. This is one of the reasons the state has strict laws dealing with intoxicated drivers to act as deterrence against drunk or drugged driving. The law penalizes this offense based on the number of times a person commits the crime within a ten year period. More stringent penalties are also imposed on individuals arrested driving commercial vehicles or those underage that have their BAC levels over the legal limit.
Aside from the legal consequences of this offense, other repercussions exist that make it even more essential to have a lawyer fight these allegations for you. If in Rancho Santa Fe, the San Diego DUI Attorney will assist you to defeat the charges or get them reduced for you.
Understanding DUI Offenses
As earlier stated, the penalties a motorist receives when charged with a DUI crime depend on how many times they have committed the offense in ten years from their first one. Additionally, the circumstances of the offense also influence how one gets charged, and the penalties issued.
When you commit the offense for the first time, a conviction will mean receiving penalties for the crime. These penalties are, however, less severe compared to those of a repeat offense, up to the third time. If you repeat the crime for the fourth time in the ten years since your first one, the penalties are even more stringent. This is because while the first three offenses get prosecuted as misdemeanors, a repeat for the fourth time exposes you to a felony prosecution. Due to this, it is essential to fight against a conviction on the crime by hiring a Rancho Santa Fe DUI Attorney to represent you in the case.Second Charge for Intoxicated Driving
Some instances, however, call for the offense to get punished as a felony. This is irrespective of whether it is a first-time offense. These circumstances are what are known as aggravating facts of the case that serve to enhance the penalties you receive.
A particular category of drivers face even more stringent penalties when they repeat the offense a second time. These include underage drivers found drugged or drunk driving and commercial vehicle drivers.
Regardless of where you fall as an offender, finding sufficient defense against the allegations is essential in avoiding lasting repercussions when convicted.
First Drunk or Drugged Driving Charge in California
Upon getting accused with a first DUI, in the absence of any aggravating factors, you get prosecuted on misdemeanor charges. A conviction on the crime will earn you the following in penalties:
You will pay fines of not below $390 and not exceeding $1,000. This is besides other assessment charges that will bring the total amount to $3,600.
You get a county jail sentence of six months or less
The court can suspend your license for six months while the DMV suspends it for four months. If you declined to agree to a BAC chemical testing, the suspension by the DMV is automatic for one year. This will also mean you do not qualify to get an IID license or restricted license as you serve the suspension period.
First, offenders can get misdemeanor probation of three years. However, the judge can sentence you to a more extended period, but not beyond five years.
These are not easy penalties, and they keep getting steeper with every subsequent charge on the same offense. Finding a Rancho Santa Fe DUI Attorney to represent you is crucial in fighting the allegations.
Second Charge for Intoxicated Driving
A repeat of this offense means your penalties are steeper, though within the same range. These offenses are also charged as misdemeanors as long as no aggravating factors exist. The penalties you are likely to face upon conviction include:
Payment of fines not below $390 or over $1,000. Additionally, you will be charged with other administrative penalties making the total amount to rise to $4,000.
You will serve a jail sentence in the county jail for a year or less.
The court will suspend your license for two years while the DMV will impose a one-year suspension. You can, however, qualify to get an IID or restricted license after three months if you submitted to a chemical test and installed an IID in your vehicle. If your offense were due to intoxication by drugs, you would wait a year before getting a restricted or IID license. If you refused to take a test, you do not qualify for the licenses because your license is automatically suspended.
You could get sentenced to probation for over three years but not beyond five. In addition to this, you will have to attend a DUI program for eighteen or thirty months.
Third DUI Charge in Ten Years
Having two DUI convictions in your record means another offense makes it your third one. This is also charged and convicted as a misdemeanor in the absence of aggravating factors. The penalties upon conviction are steeper. These include:
Paying of fines of not below $390 or over $1,000. Additionally, assessment fees will get added to your fines, bringing them to $18,000 on the maximum.
You get a jail sentence to be served in the county jail for a year or, in some cases, sixteen months of state incarceration.
The court will also suspend your license for three years while the DMV imposes a one-year suspension. After the first six months and having installed an IID in your vehicle, you qualify to get an IID license or a restricted license.
You may get sentenced to informal probation for more than three but not exceeding five years. Additionally to this, you must complete a DUI education program that lasts thirty months.
Fourth DUI Conviction in Ten Years
When charged with this offense for the fourth time in ten years, the crime ceases to be a misdemeanor but a felony. Felony convictions usually carry steeper penalties than misdemeanor convictions. Some of the penalties you will face include:
You pay fines of not below $390 and not over $5,000. Additionally, you get ordered to pay other assessment charges that will raise the total amount to $18,000.
You get sentenced to state jail time for not below sixteen months or more than three years.
Your driver’s license will get suspended for four years and a probable permanent suspension.
You may get sentenced to felony probation for three years or more but below five years. Additionally, you are required to attend a DUI education program for thirty months.
You will also attain a convicted felon status.
DUI Conviction with Bodily Harm
Certain DUI crimes may include causing harm to a third party. When responsible for an accident while intoxicated, resulting in injuries to other victims other than yourself, the crimes become a wobbler. This means the prosecutor decides whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony. In determining, the prosecutor will evaluate your criminal record and the circumstances of the offense. When you get convicted of this offense on felony charges, the below penalties will be handed down:
You will pay a fine of not below $390 or over $5,000. Additionally, penalty assessment charges will be added, raising the amount to $18,000.
The court will order you to pay restitution to the victims of the accident
You can get a state jail sentence of not below sixteen months and not over three years
Your license will get suspended for four years with a possibility of permanent suspension
You may get sentenced to probation for not less than three years or over five years. In this case, you must attend a DUI education program for thirty months. In case you want to drive, you must install an IID in your car for not below three years.
You automatically attain the status of a convicted felon.
These penalties are stringent, but with a local Rancho Santa Fe DUI Attorney fighting for you, you may get the charges reduced, resulting in reduced penalties.
When DUI Results in Death
A DUI offense can lead to the death of a third party. If, because of your drunk or drugged driving, you cause a death, you will face added charges of vehicular manslaughter. Some of the offenses you can get charged with include:
PEN 191.5b – these are charges where you get prosecuted for negligently causing death due to intoxication.
PEN 191.5a – these are charges for grossly causing death due to your intoxication
PEN 187 – these charges are also called Watson murder or second-degree murder
Commercial Driver DUI Offense
When you drive common carrier vehicles, you must be a holder of a particular driver’s license for driving commercial vehicles. Commercial drivers are held in higher regard compared to ordinary drivers meaning their penalties when convicted of DUI offenses are more stringent.
A commercial driver must not drive with a BAC of 0.04% or over. If found for the first time, he or she will get prosecuted on a misdemeanor offense. One of the penalties for this offense is having your license suspended for a year.
A subsequent offense will result in a permanent revocation of your driver’s license. This will mean that you will have to stop working as a commercial driver and look for another job. Regular drivers get to continue driving, provided they have an IID fitted in their vehicles. Unfortunately for commercial drivers, no restricted driving is permitted.
Sometimes, commercial drivers get sentenced to jail, depending on the nature of their crimes. Some of the possible sentences include:
If you get arrested for drugged or drunk driving and you were carrying hazardous products, you get jailed for three years.
Any other offense that involves the above will earn you life imprisonment.
If using your commercial driver’s license, you are found committing another felony offense that involves controlled narcotics; you get sentenced to life imprisonment.
These are severe penalties, but with an experienced Rancho Santa Fe DUI Attorney, you can fight them and get lesser penalties.
DUI Offenses and Immigration Status
When you are not a US citizen, a DUI charge can result in the revocation of your Visa. The law does not require you to get convicted of the offense to have your Visa revoked. The cancellation often happens fast, and in most cases, before the defendant can defend themselves against the allegations.
It is, however, essential to note that not all DUI offenses lead to the revocation of your license. When aggravating factors accompanied a DUI crime, then it is likely for the defendant to get deported.
Legal Defenses to DUI Charges
When faced with DUI charges, getting a skilled attorney to represent and fight the allegations is crucial to you. A Rancho Santa Fe DUI Attorney will employ various strategies to fight the claims on your behalf that may result in lesser penalties or a dismissal of the charges.
Your lawyer will evaluate the charges against you and the evidence to come up with defenses in your favor. Some of the legally acceptable defenses are:
Reckless Driving is not Equivalent to a DUI
Your lawyer can argue that you were merely driving recklessly and not intoxicated. Prosecutors when trying DUI cases often focus on the driving pattern of the defendant. The arresting officer may testify to your reckless driving to mean it was consistent with that of an intoxicated driver. The officer may allege that you were changing lanes recklessly or speeding.
Your lawyer will refute this argument by indicating you drove properly and bring up statistics showing that most sober drivers commit traffic violations. Additionally, your lawyer will argue that a pattern of driving is not a sufficient indicator of intoxicated driving.
Having Intoxication Symptoms Does Not Mean You are Impaired
This is an effective way to argue against DUI charges. Most arresting officers focus on physical signs to arrest a motorist on drunk driving. However, a person can display these signs even when not intoxicated. Some of the symptoms the officers look out for are:
Having watery and red eyes
Having a slurred speech
Alcohol smell in your breath or around you
Having an unsteady walk
When your face seems flushed.
When officers get training in identifying intoxicated drivers, these are some of the signs they are told to look out for. However, there are medical conditions or other situations that can cause you to display similar symptoms that your lawyer can argue. These are:
You suffer from allergies causing similar symptoms
At the time of your arrest, you had a cold
You were exhausted when you got arrested displaying these symptoms
Your eyes were irritated at the time.
All these factors cause eyes to get red, meaning not only alcohol or drugs would cause your eyes to display those symptoms. Your lawyer can also argue that you had not taken an alcoholic drink but a beverage with a similar smell.
Field Sobriety Tests are Not an Accurate Measure of Impairment
Not every person passes field sobriety tests even when sober. Various conditions can cause a person to fail these tests. If the arresting officer based their case on your failing these tests, your Rancho Santa Fe DUI Attorney could argue the accuracy of these tests. If well-argued, your case can get dismissed if these were the only indicators of your impairment.
The BAC Results were Falsely High
When the BAC tests recorded falsely high results, it is an excellent ground for a legal defense on a DUI. The state has set legal BAC limits that, when surpassed, the motorist gets charged with a DUI offense. Unfortunately, the test is carried out by testing the alcohol in the motorist’s breath.
Because a person’s breath can give falsely elevated results, an officer before carrying out a breath test must put you on continuous observation for fifteen minutes. This is important in ensuring that you don’t eat or take anything that may have alcohol in it. Some medicines, mouthwashes, or drinks contain alcohol such that when not intoxicated, the alcohol in them registers in the BAC results.
If you regurgitate, burp or belch during this time, the tests may register high BAC results. When a person eats anything that has alcohol in it, the mouth is left with residual alcohol. This makes the results from breathalyzers inaccurate in most cases.
The Fifteen Minute Observation Rule was not observed
If the arresting officer failed to follow the required 15 minute rule before carrying out a breathalyzer test, your skilled lawyer could argue that the results were inaccurate. A successful argument can result in the removal of the BAC results from the evidence. This ultimately weakens the prosecutor’s case, which may result in the dismissal of the charges against you.
Violation of Title 17 Requirements
The state has set out procedures and regulations in carrying out chemical tests for BAC results. These are contained in Title 17 that governs the processes as well as the officers taking the tests. If proper procedures as outlined were not followed, your lawyer could present this argument resulting in the dismissal of the allegations against you.
All these defense strategies, among others, are legally acceptable in fighting DUI allegations against you. Your lawyer analyzes the case and evidence against you and comes with an appropriate defense based on the circumstances at the time of the arrest.
Find a DUI Lawyer Near Me
DUI convictions can result in life-altering penalties. Fighting against these allegations is essential to avoiding a criminal record and penalties that result from a conviction. The hiring of an experienced lawyer to represent you during your trial is crucial in defeating the charges brought against you. If in Rancho Santa Fe, get in touch with the San Diego DUI Attorney to fight these allegations on your behalf. Find us at 619-535-7150 and allow us to represent you during your trial.