California law is stringent when dealing with cases involving drunk driving. Whether you were exceeding the alcohol limit if your driving conduct was influenced by drug use, you will face severe legal penalties. Also, the law doesn’t tolerate juvenile persons operating automobiles with a significant percentage of alcohol in the blood. Besides the legal consequences you suffer, drunk driving will attract other charges, which can be quite expensive to navigate. A DUI record affects your life in many dimensions, and it would be wise to ensure you avoid a conviction at all costs. Battling DUI charges in California can be complicated as a result of the legal processes involved. Therefore, it is vital to enlist the legal guidance of the San Diego DUI Attorney in Ridgecrest Estates.

Overview of a California DUI

Driving under drug influence or the combination of drugs and alcohol is not taken lightly by California DUI laws. Other than the DUI charges, drunk driving will attract a series of charges that arise from this act. Understanding your arrest and the nature of the charges you are facing is a critical factor in navigating the criminal case. Most arrests for DUI offenses occur at the checkpoints set on the highway or at accident scenes. 

In most cases, your vehicle will be flagged down on a suspicion that you are under drug or alcohol influence. An officer of the law will carry out several tests to certify their suspicion that you were impaired. Some of these tests will include field observations that check your conduct. Also, you may be subjected to a breath test to check your alcohol content at the time of driving. You can either pass or fail the test depending on your result. Several legal limits apply for a different category of drivers.

Should you fail the Breathalyzer tests, you will get arrested, and a criminal charge process will begin. Breathalyzer tests are not always a sure way that you were exceeding the legal limit. Therefore, you get subjected to a further analysis where you submit a blood sample to test the presence and content of alcohol in your system. If your BAC indicates that you were drunk driving, DUI criminal charges will be filed against you.

After an arrest, your license will go into police possession upon which you will receive a pink notification. The notice is a way to inform you that your driver’s license may get suspended thirty days from the time of the arrest. Besides the criminal case filed against you, you will be required to deal with the DMV if you want to retain your driving privileges. There are several legal processes you need to follow when battling California DUI charged. Therefore, it is a wise move to contact your Ridgecrest Estates DUI Attorney immediately.

How the court handles your charges depends on the kind of offense you allegedly committed. When you get arrested for drunk driving, you may get charged with the following crimes:

  1. Underage DUI —

    Underage DUI charges are criminal charges brought against juvenile drivers who operate their vehicles with a BAC that exceeds 0.01%. The BAC used to determine underage drunk driving is obtained from the preliminary alcohol screening test.
  2. Commercial DUI —

    If you operate a vehicle classified under commercial cars in California, you are required to drive with a BAC, which doesn’t get to or surpass 0.04%. Failure to do this, you will find yourself battling commercial DUI charges. Commercial DUI charges could have a devastating outcome in your professional life. This is because your license should get suspended; you are not allowed to obtain the restricted license for operating during the suspension period.
  3. Hit and run —

    You commit a crime of hit and run by failing to stop after causing an accident. The law mandates you to help other people and stay at the scene until law enforcers arrive. If you were drunk driving and caused an accident after which you left without performing your legal duties, you may be faced with hit and run charges alongside DUI.
  4. Gross vehicular manslaughter —

    This is a crime that occurs when a driver acts in gross negligence, and their actions result in the death of a third party. Drunk driving is among the main contributing factors of traffic accidents in California. When your drunken driving behavior causes an accident that causes death, you will be faced with charges for gross vehicular manslaughter while under drug influence. Whether voluntarily or by accident, causing the death of another person has serious repercussions. The prison sentence and hefty fines that accompany a conviction for this offense will affect your life.
  5. Watson murder —

    DUI murder charges arise when you act with implied malice and commit an act that results in death. You are charged with this offense if you were aware that your actions threatened the safety of human life. The court does not need proof that you had an intention to harm the victims for you to get convicted for DUI murder. Getting help from a Ridgecrest Estates DUI Attorney is one of the wisest decisions you can make when faced with Watson murder charges.
  6. Military DUI —

    California law on drunk driving applies to all individuals who possess a driver’s license. Even when you are a member of the military, you can face an arrest and conviction for drunk driving. A military DUI arrest can either occur on or off the military base. Getting arrested for a criminal offense attracts severe consequences for your military career. This is because, besides the legal penalties, your commander is likely to impose additional punishment. 

DUI Court Process

A DUI case begins when you get arrested for driving with a BAC that was exceeding the legal limit on the road. When a claim is filed against you, the following are typical steps that will be followed for your case:

Investigate the Case

Many factors play a part when navigating your drunk driving case. Just because you are facing the charges doesn’t mean that you have no chance to fight for yourself. Mainly when the arrest occurs after an accident, there exists evidence to solidify or defend your case. After an accident, you should contact your DUI attorney to help you in obtaining the evidence to defend your case. 

Relevant evidence gets collected by returning to the accident scene or place of arrest. Also, using accident reconstruction experts can help understand how the collision occurred. You could also identify persons who were present at the scene and request their testimony in your case.

Attending the Court Hearing

Whether or not you are successful in defending your license at the DMV hearing, you are still required to attend your trial for the drunk driving criminal case. The key players in your criminal case will include you and your attorney. Unlike the DMV hearing, where your presence is not necessarily required, it is mandatory to attend a criminal case court hearing. Your Ridgecrest Estates DUI Attorney will be a source of your legal guidance and representation in the case.

A prosecutor is another role player and will be part of your case. Depending on the type of drunk driving offense you committed, the prosecutor aims at proving that you are guilty of the crime. The prosecutor will present evidence that is collected against you. The officer who arrested you for DUI will also provide results of your tests to the prosecutor who will present them before the jury in an attempt to get you convicted.

After listening to all sides of the case from the prosecution and defense, the jury will be responsible for making a judgment. They will determine whether you are guilty of the charges for which you are accused. Also, the severity and type of legal penalties you face are determined by the jury.

In some cases, witnesses play a crucial role in the case. A witness could be presented by the criminal prosecutor to testify against you. However, your attorney will also have a right to cross-examine these witnesses. If you identify an individual who saw things from your perspective, you can present them as witnesses to the case. An arresting officer is one among the main witnesses that could be called upon to give an account of the occurrences.

Monetary Costs Associated with DUI

Drunk driving will attract severe legal consequences, which include a prison sentence and probation. Also, you will incur a lot of costs when navigating the whole DUI process after an arrest in California. Even when you do not get convicted for a drunk driving offense, the entire process is likely to put a toll on your finances. A DUI arrest attracts the following costs:

Vehicle Impound Fees

Most DUI arrests occur at traffic stops or in the vent of a collision. When you fail the tests carried out on the road, you will get arrested and have to ride with the officers to the station. Sometimes your vehicle is in a bad state and cannot be driven. In other cases, you aren’t given an option to call someone who can take the car away. Therefore, it will be towed by the local towing service. However, you will be required to cover the impoundment cost, which is often three hundred and fifty dollars ($350) when you want to collect the vehicle.


Bail is the amount you are required to pay in court so you can get a release for you or your loved one before the hearing. If you get arrested for drunk driving, you can secure a release on bail so you can be free as you wait for your criminal case hearing. The amount you are required to pay in bail will vary depending on the type of DUI charges you are facing. Also, the nature of your past DUI convictions will affect your bail costs. 

If you get released on bail, the amount you pay will be refunded after attending the hearing. However, failure to adhere to court rules will cause you to lose the bail money. Sometimes bail amounts are too high that you are forced to seek the services of a surety bond that operates at a certain fee.

The DMV License Fees

When you get arrested for drunk driving or another offense arising from this behavior, the DMV will want to suspend your license. This will occur even before you get sentenced in the criminal case. Immediately after the arrest, the officer will notify you of the oncoming suspension. Therefore, you are required to contest the suspension in a special hearing held in DMV offices. If you lose the trial, your license will get suspended. At one point or another, you will need to reinstate your driving privileges upon which you are required to pay at least $125 to the DMV.

Booking and Fingerprinting

Booking is a process that follows your arrival at the station. After your blood is tested for alcohol or drugs, you will be booked. Booking involves taking down your identification and contact information and taking your mugshot. Also, the information you provide will help identify the presence of other pending cases and past convictions in your record. If it is your first arrest for DUI in California, you are required to pay $170 in booking and fingerprinting fees.

Court Fines 

A requirement to pay monetary fines is one of the penalties that accompany a conviction for drunk driving. The amount you pay in fines as a penalty for drunk driving will depend on your past convictions and the nature of offense you committed. The minimum fine you are likely to pay for a first DUI offense is $390, and the amount totals to $1500 when assessment fees are added.

Alcohol and Substance Abuse Programs

As part of sentencing and driver’s license reinstatement, a driver who gets convicted for a drunk driving offense may be required to attend DUI School as well as an alcohol rehabilitation program. The fees associated with these programs vary depending on the plan chosen and duration, which it lasts. In California, DUI education programs cost at least $575, which you pay for three months in DUI School. Even for out of state drivers who get arrested for drunk driving in California, a mandatory enrollment for the DUI program has to be completed before you are permitted to continue operating your vehicle.

Insurance Fees

If ever you are arrested and convicted for a DUI crime, your insurance providers are notified of the conviction. Most insurance companies will consider you a reckless driver, pushing them to increase the amount you pay for vehicle insurance.

Installation of IID

When your driver’s license is suspended by the court or by the DMV, you can be offered to continue driving upon an IID installation. An IDD is a device that keeps an account of the alcohol content in your breath before you start the vehicle. An ignition interlock device is to be fitted on all the cars you frequently operate at your own cost. On average, the installation of an IID in California will cost you $170.

DUI Aggravating Factors

A DUI conviction attracts a series of penalties, including a jail or prison sentence, fines, and probation. Aggravating factors are circumstances that prompt an increase in the severity of the penalties you face for drunk driving. Typical aggravating factors for a DUI in California Include:

  1. Prior convictions -

    Drunk driving is a priorable offense. Therefore, having a prior conviction will play a part in your sentencing. The penalties you receive for each charge will be increased if you had a similar sentence in the past ten years.
  2. Having a minor passenger -

    Having a passenger who is under the age of fourteen years at the time of DUI will attract an increased jail sentence. 
  3. Over speeding -

    Different parts of the road have a speed limit, which you should not exceed. If you were exceeding the legal speed limit at the time of DUI arrest, your jail sentence is increased by sixty days.
  4. Multiple victims -

    Drunk driving contributes to a significant number of road accidents in California. If you cause an accident when driving under drug influence, you will face enhanced penalties during DUI sentencing. The penalties increase with an increase in the number of injured victims. However, a Ridgecrest Estates DUI Attorney can help you avoid fault in the accident and evade the enhanced punishment.

Find a Ridgecrest Estates DUI Attorney Near Me

A DUI offense conviction in California attracts legal consequences that range from probation to a jail or prison sentence. Also, your ability to continue operating your vehicle gets cut short, leaving you with the burden of finding alternative transportation means. If you have been arrested for DUI or another offense arising from drunk driving behavior, some legal guidance will go a long way for your situation. Getting sound legal advice is especially vital when faced with charges for other offenses resulting from a DUI. By contacting San Diego DUI Attorney, you will receive the much-needed advice and legal representation for a less complicated process. Call us today at 619-535-7150 from any location in Ridgecrest Estates, CA.